Hunches and Ideas

Last week I was introduced to a great video. The video is called WHERE GOOD IDEAS COME FROM by Steven Johnson. I was introduced to it via Greg Whitby’s Blog Blueyonder
With the understanding that “Ideas take time to incubate”, the video talks about the “slow hunch” combining with other hunches to form great ideas. The four and half minute video can be found at
As a result of viewing the the video I have the following questions…..
“What are the hunches in our workplace?”
“How many great ideas do we currently have?”
“Do our spaces support ‘great idea making’?”
What are your questions?????

24 thoughts on “Hunches and Ideas

  1. Collision. Spaces. Vision. Incubate.Collide with other hunches = dialogue, systems, networking, the coffee house. Connectivity.These are value words, they describe the how of communication/creativity.Tom Peters relates Creativity to Engagement:"When Gallup asked people to agree or not with this statement: " My current job brings out my most creative ideas," the responses based on levels of engagement are as follows:Engaged Employees = 59% agreeNot Engaged Employees = 17% agreeActively Disengaged Employees = 3% agree"Questions:What hunches do I have?Who am I sharing them with?To whom am I asking "What hunch do you have"?Spaces? Great question Greg. Is space Who+where+how often+role+intention?What role engagement in all of the above?Is engagement a chicken/egg thing? Is creativity an affect of engagement, or a cause?My hunch is that such a space can’t be mandated, but it is essential. That the significant moments of innovation in my life have always been in community. That ideas beget ideas, not all ideas are good, but good ideas grow from the cultivation of ideas. Failure is rewarded, the more we fail, the closer we get to succeeding. Failure = the product of ideas.My hunch is that the thing we are taking responsibility for in Education will be incredible, and demands the best we have as a group. And "we" and "group" is diverse.My biggest hunch is that the risks we take in 12/18/24 months are too scary to imagine now, but our imagination will grow as we exercise it. Pedagogically my biggest hunch relates to the role our students will play in selecting, designing, shaping and leading their own learning. It will be significant.Great provocation. Questions = delicious.

  2. Apologies for the double post:Hunch Number 2:People matter.“Over the past decade the biggest employment gains came in occupations that rely on people skills and emotional intelligence … and among jobs that require imagination and creativity. … Trying to preserve existing jobs will prove futile—trade and technology will transform the economy whether we like it or not. Americans will be better off if they strive to move up the hierarchy of human talents. That’s where our future lies.” —Michael Cox, Richard Alm and Nigel Holmes/“Where the Jobs Are”/NYT/05.13.2004The same is true for… everywhere?What is the hierarchy of human talents?How does the time spent by our students reflect this hierarchy?Can we design our best "people" innovations *OTHER* than with the people? (Staff/students/parents/etc…?)The development of the hunch is eloquently dismissed as being a single person moment of insight – it is collegial. What size = collegial? Are there thoughts about think-tank+pilot+broader implementation=effective?

  3. That is why Finland has had such success – time is given to teachers to collaborate and reflect on their pedagogy. Michael Fullan discusses these ideas in his latest book, "Stratosphere". He looks at Jonah Lehrer’s research into how creativity works in the brain. It looks at how people grapple with problems and many times come up with great ideas and solutions when they break from problem solving and reflect. it is then that the left hemisphere rests and the right hemisphere of the brain works subconsciously and out of the blue can emerge great ideas.Our work places can have some great ideas. Do we provide adequate time for serious collaboration and reflection to truly nurture them?

  4. I find my hunches incubate as I procrastibake! Dialogue and bouncing ideas around with others help me continue to formulate and articulate the ideas. Creating the space by setting aside time to have the group ‘thought showers’ around the initial idea triggers further possible idea sparks and the energy brought to the group by the people involved elevates motivation, engagement and the desire to complete the project. There is much to be said for celebrating the success of an idea ‘we’ worked on together. Making the time is the key!

  5. We will know what the hunches in our workplace are when we create the space for them to emerge. So the question is "How do we create the space?". Social Networking through avenues such as blogs, Twitter and Facebook allow us to share, contemplate and collaborate in our own time, in our own space, when the ideas come. Rather than demanding more time it actually frees us up to then collaborate or connect when we feel we can. It’s liberating! A waste disposal company in Canada wanted colleagues to collaborate more… share their ‘hunches’, increase workplace dialogue; so they created the 5 minute morning ‘Huddle’. It’s a stand-up, voluntary meeting where employees are encouraged to share ideas, positive comments, provide feedback about something that may or may not be working, discuss opportunities for ways to do things better; you could volunteer to be ‘huddle master’ – to host a huddle. Would people view this as just another meeting? What if the huddle was already happening right before our eyes? Should we, could we, increase the incidence of huddles? What do we need to have huddles? Shared, open workplaces? Check. Open doors? Check. Lots of windows? Check. The late Professor David Bohm (Emeritus Professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of London) although a physicist, was also known for his work around dialogue back in the 1950’s. He based his thinking around the meaning of the word ‘dialogue’. If we could get the ‘word’ through, among, between, then new, shared understandings would emerge around these new ideas and these would be the glue or cement that held the group together. We are.We do.We need to keep doing.Hhhhm… food for thought

  6. What about a Space in all schools called "The Incubator"? Whiteboards/Idea Paint readily available to assist the incubation of hunches that can be transformed into ideas that can be actioned. A place where teachers come and go and bounce ideas off each other? I can smell the innovation.Do we need a space to "get traction"? (As an aside, in having such a place does this then limit it as the ONLY place/space in which ideas flow? Better than having one space than none. The culture could build from there.) Maybe build in one a hour a week into teacher loads and they spend it in "The Incubator" with a TEAM of people. Collaboration, cross pollination! Wow, the possibilities! Taking this a little further, should meeting times become known as “Incubation Gatherings”. System personnel may say it is costly. From a purely financial perspective, it is costly within the current funding model; However, what is the cost of NOT doing it. What is the cost of NOT acting now for the future?

  7. Proof of concept: We discussed the possibility that the flexible learning spaces for 2013 would grow the staff – that they have a "Cafe" feel, we wanted "Booths" to facilitate this.What we are doing next year is a collision of Hunches already, and we are early days…Love the space idea Greg… I blogged about it a while back, our social role/spaces determine the conversation that takes place there, we lose momentum and opportunity for dialogue by not having a space for it. Raising innovation at morning tea is, probably, poor form? People want to relax and just be on a break?We end up with hallway meetings, which is better than none… but it isn’t exactly the incubator that the west bank of Paris was in the 1960’s :)Incubator, love it… "TAKE RISKS HERE" "SHARE YOUR HUNCHES HERE". I want that on a badge.(Love the Huddle Reference Trish. We have a huddle at the football… huddle is already one of our learning spaces, let’s steal it.)The Slow Hunch: (Emergent Properties) ( Book by Kevin Kelly – Out of ControlA sink brims with water. You pull the plug. The water stirs. A vortex materializes. It blooms into a tiny whirlpool, growing as if it were alive. In a minute the whirl extends from surface to drain, animating the whole basin. An ever changing cascade of water molecules swirls through the tornado, transmuting the whirlpool’s being from moment to moment. Yet the whirlpool persists, essentially unchanged, dancing on the edge of collapse. "We are not stuff that abides, but patterns that perpetuate themselves," wrote Norbert Wiener.As the sink empties, all of its water passes through the spiral. When finally the basin of water has sunk from the bowl to the cistern pipes, where does the form of the whirlpool go? For that matter, where did it come from?The whirlpool appears reliably whenever we pull the plug. It is an emergent thing, like a flock, whose power and structure are not contained in the power and structure of a single water molecule. No matter how intimately you know the chemical character of H2O, it does not prepare you for the character of a whirlpool. Like all emergent entities, the essence of a vortex emanates from a messy collection of other entities; in this case, a pool of water molecules. One drop of water is not enough for a whirlpool to appear in, just as one pinch of sand is not enough to hatch an avalanche. Emergence requires a population of entities, a multitude, a collective, a mob, more.More is different. One grain of sand cannot avalanche, but pile up enough grains of sand and you get a dune that can trigger avalanches.

  8. This post reminds me of Steve Jobs and his reflections on leadership and managing people. TRUSTING that his team comes through with "their parts" , TEAMWORK and bringing ideas, problem solutions into a "product". Under 3 minute viewing and worth a watch, especially around 2 minutes- Jobs states "The best ideas should win, others people won’t stay." People love to contribute and feel valued. A successful Leader allows that process to occur. Some ideas are light bulb moments, others are a niggling thought that eventuates in the right context and environment. Sometimes this takes time. As we know the biggest area in education that most staff claim holds their progress back; is time. Greg, SCIL (Sydney centre of Innvotive learning) is the "incubator" you speak of at NBCS (Northern Beaches Christian School) where principal of the Year Stephen Harris encourages staff ideas to be actioned, reflected upon and refined if valuable. @7mrsjames

  9. Hunches. Enjoyed reading the comments on this post as much as the initial questions – an illustration of how ideas (hunches) should ‘bounce around’ and create improved or new ideas! I’d be wary of ‘incubation gatherings’ that might silo the thoughts to a few. The ideapaint idea works … perhaps called an idea garden?? .. a place people can ‘plant a seed’ and see if it grows? .. in an open wall space for all to see/discuss. For inspiration, I’m now thinking a "twitter fountain" on display in the staffroom that regularly follows various #hashtags might also generate discussion. As always Greg, your post has developed my thinking – Thanks!

  10. I love the idea of a Coffee House for ideas. Several ventures in Sydney do this in some way, usually as "start up" weekends or evenings. People come together to intensively work on a project and the best ideas usually come through. However, I also agree that this isn’t always the way that the best ideas are generated or fostered and put into action.There does need to be a place in every school where staff separate their daily practice and their creative idea generation. Our desks are sometimes too literally or metaphorically clogged with the ‘usual’ to make room for new ideas. It needs to be a space where people can run in and write something quickly or record their idea (audio/video etc) or to come to and contemplate, or work with others on a specific project. I think more than that, there doesn’t just need to be a physical space for ideation but also training for teachers in the language and frameworks for generating and cultivating ideas and promoting innovation. Completing the AITSL Leading Curriculum Change course exposed me to the idea that innovation is "executing a new idea to generate value". Dr Tim Kastelle talks about how most institutions and organisations are IDEAS RICH but INNOVATION POOR. We all work with amazingly creative and inspiring people – but the ones who are real movers and shakers are the ones who manage to take it from the lightbulb moment to the final product or process. Even if it’s not our own idea to begin with, having an idea is only as good as the action of innovation that brings it into the world to add value. Most schools, unfortunately, are incredibly innovation poor and only innovate when mandated or required to by circumstance. There needs to be a culture of change and innovation brought into schools, including physical spaces, thinking and communication skills, collaboration and active innovation so that our ideas can be generated, elaborated, shared, critiqued, evaluated, reimagined and reworked as appropriate to our current needs and aspirations. Thanks for the prompt Greg :)Matt@mesterman

  11. "Do we need a space to "get traction"? "Yes. Reformers will find each other in a space like that. Build a language around their hunches and change. This would be easier away from the ears and constant gaze of those who would resist change.

  12. That said I have shared some really good hunches lately with my neighbor in the NE. Problem is I should probably be sharing these with some in the SW as well…

  13. That said I have shared some really good hunches lately with my neighbor in the NE. Problem is I should probably be sharing these with some in the SW as well…

  14. "Chance favours the connected mind" I really liked this concept as the last idea that Steven Johnson left us with and I connected this with his idea about space being the online space where we communicate with liike minds, be it Twitter or Facebook, blogs or wikis or whatever. While we hear that people aren’t reading as much or as deeply as they once did, I actually think we’re on the cusp of a change in the way people are using this online space. I’m listening to young people saying that they are sick of reading online, that they can’t get a real picture of the scope and breadth of an idea or a concept if they can’t see it and pull it apart, which one can’t always do online. In a school, I think that a space for incubating ideas is great if it is integral to the way the school oeprates and the way the curriculum is handled in classrooms. Separating a space for incubation in a regular school running a traditional curriculum may not work, whereas in a school where project or challenge based learning is in operation, may have great spin-offs.I can see that the online space for connejcting people with like minds extends to students connecting with their peers across the world in global communities, developing entrepreneurial ideas like Nick DÁloisio. We read about him as a 14 y.o developing his first app while still at high school; now he’s developed morre apps after raising $1M venture capital as a 17 y.o. at school. <>How many teachers and school would be open-minded enough to promote this sort of innovation?Would they have the capabilities required?Would they have enough experience in the broader world of work to be able to link students up with people who can get their innovations happening?It’s difficult enough as an adult to put our innovative ideas into action – an incubator or an online space would need to have input from educators, economists, financiers, artists etc – the whole gamut of experience that you would find in a school community – if you could encourage parents/loacl business owners to link up with kids to discuss their ideas. That could certainly be done onliine in any school:)Provocative ideas Greg – great for future development.

  15. Online is good, good for sounding ideas and getting feedback. But if you are looking for innovation on-the-ground at a school then for me nothing beats face to face. Probing for meaning, inquiring, facial expressions, real time discussion. All difficult in an online text only environment.

  16. Space. Isn’t the most Important space the one where ‘good’ people ideas are enabled, supported? Yes they need time, and space. To make it happen, good dreamers need time to dream, others to make sense of those dreams, to find structures/organisation. You need space – ‘permission’ for the dreamers to dream, that is, they need to be valued and potentially be given a mandate if what they dream about is good learning outcomes. Best ‘space’ is when there is a synergy between dreamers and the doers. Of course these people can be one and the same, but the product of several minds is often richer. Time is the most important ‘space’.

  17. Hi GregI found that the Steven Johnson video truly resonated … only today I was doodling in a notebook while supervising a class for an ill colleague. And, I was putting down ideas about innovation at my school in 2013! In the past few days some of the Twitter-ati have been tweeting about the need for "innovation time" and have been citing the Google policy as an example. I did not know that Google had mandated 20% of the working week for individual innovation.I certainly intend next year to give at least some of my classes "innovation time" where they can work on personalised learning … no tests or results but a sharing time at the end (… of each term?) I see the prospect of providing teaching staff with such time as far more problematic. Most, I fear, would come back at me with the classic retort, "I don’t have time for this."In recent days I have been thinking about George Couros’ belief that what so many teachers are missing is not a "skill set" but a "mind set." My way around this has been to start building a PLN … as Johnson says, its connectedness that will incubate the hunches. Perhaps in the end, Twitter is the 21st century version of those Parisian Coffee Houses … and I do like coffee!Hope these musings make sense and are of some value, thanks for the opportunity.

  18. Funny you should pose these questions. My mother and I just had a conversation about a month ago about ‘thinking time’, and how people are so busy nowadays that they don’t take time to just think. Didn’t Christopher Robin have a thinking tree? Blues Clues a thinking chair? One of the commenters reminded us that the most valuable commodity to teachers is time: time to plan, time to research, time to explore new technology, time to collaborate with colleagues, and time to think. I like to think, but I feel guilty if people come into my computer lab where my desk is and see my staring off into space, like somehow I’m not BUSY, I’m not PRODUCING anything. Therefore, I tend to do my thinking at home while doing something monotonous, like mowing the grass, shaving, running, or falling asleep at night. But I think you are right, Greg, in that we need to provide a time and place for educators to think. I would say (at least in my district) a digital venue is out, because unless it’s Facebook or maybe Pintrest, most educators are uninitiated, and claim that it’s just "one more thing" you’re making them do. As a solution that could be implemented tomorrow, perhaps there is an old whiteboard or chalkboard laying around that could be put in the room where teachers gather most, say, for lunch. Butcher paper could even be put up across the walls, and tantalizing questions could be posed, mind maps started, a non-digital twitter feed could be written, etc. In some buildings, it would have to be monitored closely so that it wouldn’t become a PROBLEM board instead of a SOLUTION board. I found this idea so intriguing that this response found it’s way onto my blog as a post: think it’s brilliant how you are making this blog a sort of whiteboard for ideas.

  19. What I really like about this idea is the language – "A Hunch"Very often when I’m working in schools, or workshops, those present feel they don’t have much to offer, believing only "great" ideas are wanted. That they have to offer something that is a real conversation stopper for it to be worthy. In my opinion, stifles the creativity process as it places undue pressure on those present…Enter "the Hunch!" Just the word "hunch" is less loaded… everyone has "hunches"What is needed is the Incubation "lab". A spot in the staffroom, a room set aside if you can afford it! And time in teachers’ loads to think. (again if you can afford it!)Just my 2 cents…CheersDan

  20. I love the idea of creativity coming from a collision of hunches. Read my latest blog post at to see how our latest creative expression of innovative learning came from a collision of different hunches from divergent interests to create a wonderful end-product.The hunches came from a need to address the issue of storage in our new Design Studio. My IST students had a fabulous Robot Soccer table that they used to become NSW state champs & Australian Open semi-finalists thus qualifying for the 2013 World Robotics Olympiad. The table however took up a huge amount of space in our Design Studio which created an uneasy tension with other teachers/students who didn’t like losing the space. Mobile options weren’t practical due to the size and weight of the table. At this point our hunches were colliding in an uncomfortable divergent way. It took a separate hunch from a different teacher who was less attached to the divergent hunches to deliver the crucial hunch that allowed the other hunches to work together. The crucial yet simple hunch was to keep the table in the learning space but put table top panels on it so that the Robot Soccer table could be easily accessed when needed but could but used as a Design table at other times. The other teacher jumped at the idea of being able to create a cutting surface as the table top. I then chipped in with the idea of having different surfaces on each side of the table top so that the table top could be used in a flexible combination of surfaces. The collision of hunches created an innovative piece of furniture for learning which now inspires students to be creative & innovative with their own ideas. I guess this also addresses the question about creative innovative spaces supporting great ideas. The innovative space that is our Design Studio sparked the hunches to begin with and the need to be creative with our solution which in turn adds to the innovative nature of the entire space thus creating the environment for our students and teachers to be inspired with more hunches that will become great ideas. Finally this has been an example of the very latest of the great ideas that I am fortunate to experience with my staff at NBCS.LD

  21. Very interesting stuff. Highly keen on the idea of "THE INCUBATOR", although my brain is having trouble dealing with the type of things we would be baking up in there. How would we set it up? Who would go and spend time there and when? Where do our ‘eggs’ go post incubator? Are there enough like-minded people around to get something like this up and running in a dynamic and worthwhile way? My mind can’t quite come to grips with the practicalities, but it knows that its a great idea!

  22. I think it is important to remember that ideas are the product of problems. We need to encourage students to ask questions and from those questions they will come up with new, brilliant and creative ideas. (thats what young people do).I also love the idea of dedicated incubator spaces in schools, but often, there just isnt the time to use them here in the U.k

  23. I love the idea of creating a specific space and the time for new ideas to flow. As our lives get busier and busier and we continue to absorb ourselves in so much (technology partly to blame) I often wonder ‘where’s the time to just stop and think?.’ A few things come to mind whilst perusing through the above posts:- I too often find the best ideas come when completing the most mundane tasks or most often when trying to get to sleep. Unfortunately this is the only time these days that we do often just stop and give ourselves the opportunity for ideas to come to mind and the creativity to flow. – I do think simply creating opportunities to move away from our desks and have discussion in a different setting can have a positive impact…A meeting at the ‘cafe’ immediately creates a more relaxed environment where the nature of conversation is different. – On a larger scale, at another school I once taught at our small faculty used some leftover PD money to have our end of year planning days at a beach house on the coast. Two full days to simply plan the year ahead, I was amazed at the productivity and the different mindset and hence ideas that came from this change in setting. Some ‘food for thought,’ I look forward to seeing what unfolds in the ‘incubator’ space

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