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New Tech Blog: Max On Media
Max On Media is a technology-based blog written by Burke Liburt. Burke Liburt is the co-founder and CMO of SynchroPET, a biomedical device company that has licensed patented nuclear imaging technologies from Brookhaven National Laboratories. He has developed marketing strategies at television groups (Dun & Bradstreet/ ABC Television) and at his own multi-media company. Read Max On Media Now!
Stony Brook Innovation Center Blog

Innovative Learning

Aug 29 2017

The most helpful topic for an Innovation Center blog would seem to be examining whether innovativeness can be instilled in people the way installing computer programs enables us to do different things, and if so, how is it downloaded, or learned?  Is there a single Skill Set underpinning all the other attributes that are identifiable in the majority of innovators, short of the few savants floating around, and even there?  Do innovations like the light bulb and Internet arise out of nowhere, or evolve as species do: putting similar things together again and again, and how is that done?  

	 "The eye--it cannot choose but see;
                We cannot bid the ear be still;
                Our bodies feel, where'er they be,
                Against or with our will.

                "Nor less I deem that there are Powers
                Which of themselves our minds impress;
                That we can feed this mind of ours
                In a wise passiveness."

                 “Expostulation and Reply,” William Wordsworth

For about as long as the average age of students here, since before many of you were born, I’ve been looking at learning programs of all kinds, to see if anyone were doing anything like the one I delineate—some might say, elucidate—here, and keep finding nothing but strange schemes (I’m being kind) that brought the originators fame and fortune, so obviously multitudes of people fall prey to them.  One that I scanned yesterday, called The Book of Afformations by Noah St. John, is largely based on people constantly asking themselves negative questions, like “Why am I broke?” or “Why am I getting F’s?” and simply reversing them into positive ones … somehow.  Something like, If you believe it, you can achieve it.  ‘Tis true, one has to believe you can first, BUT … who wouldn’t be nervous, sitting down with an orchestra or strutting onto an athletic field, who doesn’t know how to play an instrument or sport? 
Nowhere in the book, or any others like it (except mine), does the author so much as mention acquiring the SKILLS, on which to base someone’s belief in themselves, unless you consider mere pretense a skill.  In all fairness, most such books are based on changing behaviors, and that is a skill, BUT … the KEY behavior, how they THINK, not just WHAT they think, is still never—I rrrepeat, NEVVER—addressed.  Once again, this book about afformations is filled with anecdotes and analogies, taking for granted what is obviously The Key Skill of All Skills, since that is the one common characteristic that every expert shares.
Once you notice that in everything you read, look further into the common characteristics of anecdotes and analogies.  The easiest way to see them is from life, itself, or TV shows and movies, which depict it: every situation has characters, actions, settings, and time frames, both the period during which the situation occurs and its duration. I mentioned, for example, being at this long ago and all the while since then.  The world was quite different when I began: there was no internet, but one of my professors already ran The Odyssey through a computer and ascertained that the most frequent adjective describing the world’s greatest storyteller is resourceful.  Close enough to innovative for my blood.
WHY is storytelling the basis for innovativeness?  For the same reason that navigators have triangulated since time immemorial to get somewhere.  One point can be misleading.  A point is meaningless without a CONTEXT.  Anecdotes put situations in PERSPECTIVE with other situations like it, showing what isn’t understood in terms of what is already known.  Furthermore, perspective works in our mind the same way it does on a canvas, keeping details in PROPORTION.  Further still, anecdotes REMOVE you from the situation at hand, so your emotions don’t INTERFERE with your thinking, which by the way is also overlooked in the many books about Emotional Intelligence, and is the key to THAT, as well.
Our eyes have a lens, so we can’t focus on foregrounds and backgrounds simultaneously, but a painting or story can do that, and we can learn from them to do likewise in our mind, as well, which not only facilitates innovation, but avoiding oversights and missing out on opportunities to be innovative.
Analogies are derived by likewise equating components of situations to components of other ones, as in “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” or “When it’s cold outside, I’ve got the month of May,” to go from Shakespeare to Smokey Robinson.  Both, as it happens, spring from relating time frames and settings to other situations’ facets or components.  Einstein recognized relativity, watching two boats cross from the one he was on.  Freud recognized similarities between the dreams of patients and tales in folklore or mythology.
Evolution is perhaps the original, primal innovation.  It occurs by putting two similar but different creatures—a male and female—together, again and again.  Why would individual—or business—innovations work any differently? 
IF you want a COMPLETE analysis of the process, the website for my book on the subject, The Key Skill of All Skillshas a wealth of information.  

Stony Brook University Innovation Center, Stony Brook, NY 11794-3775

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Fax: 631.632.8181