| | |

Artistic Approach To Innovation

Chris Gregory

Over a 50+ year history HLB has seen and helped develop a wide array of products spanning various industries and markets.  Today we continue to work with Fortune 200 as well as start-up organizations and everything in between.  Whether as a result of highly formulated market research or identifying a need from personal experience, I am continually amazed at how product ideas and concepts originate.  Given our relentless pursuit to address user needs, we are always looking for new and interesting paths to innovation.

Recently I had the opportunity to sit with Tim Morrison of the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago.  He shared a project he is working on for the Chicago Incubator for Innovation, part of the Art of Science Learning program being hosted by the Museum of Science and Industry. The Art of Science Learning, a National Science Foundation-funded initiative based in New York City, has also launched similar incubators in San Diego, California at the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership and in Worcester, Massachusetts at the Ecotarium. The project uses a newly designed curriculum that brings arts based learning together with training in innovation to spark creativity in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education. 

At all three sites this new learning curriculum is being implemented in a yearlong series of workshops with a diverse group of participants, known as Fellows which includes scientists, artists, engineers, educators, business professionals, high school as well as college students, and community members.  Workshops introduce the participants to new creative tools and thinking patterns drawn from the arts, innovation techniques, and business tools including business model and market planning, user research and product launch techniques.  The Fellows will then bring all these tools together as they meet a STEM challenge

In Chicago, the STEM challenge is focusing on the issue of urban nutrition.  Working in small innovation teams the Fellows will use the tools they have learned to design and develop solutions to meet the challenge of providing healthy nutrition and increasing access to food for everyone in our community.  Some of the arts influenced exercises include:

  • Jazz improvisation to help recognize themes and patterns.

  • Sculpture as a method for expressing metrics and quantifying information.

  • Chicago Blues to identify wants, needs, desires, loss, hardship, etc., which are themes at play in the urban nutrition challenge.

  • Juggling as a way to open up mental pathways for moments of synthesis and creation, as well as notions of supporting partners, that dropping a ball is not failure but rather a chance to learn from experience, and an expression of the risk taking inherent in innovation.

The goal of all of these exercises has been to open new pathways to innovation and learning by using creative tools and thinking that can be found in many different art forms.

The Chicago Incubator for Innovation began workshops in January this year and is approaching the stage where eight innovation teams form from the larger group of Fellows and take the solutions ideated during their workshops through a design and development process.  Tim Morrison has been kind enough to ask a few of us here at HLB to acts as advisors during various stages of the program.  We are thrilled to play a role and, as always, eager to see yet another constructive and creative avenue to innovation.

Please check back throughout the year as we learn and share more from The Chicago Incubator for Innovation.

To learn more visit: http://www.artofsciencelearning.org/ and http://www.msichicago.org/