Toolkit Tuesday: Innovation in higher education is like…

Jan 25, 2016

One of our favorite exercises to use in model design workshops is to ask participants to frame a given context as a metaphor. It’s a surprisingly simple and effective activity because the humble metaphor can be a powerful catalyst for generating new thinking or reveal commonly accepted conventions and beliefs. It can quickly create a shared understanding and provide common ground for framing a challenge.

Don’t take my word for it though.

Here’s a book of metaphors we created to consider how states might fund innovation in higher education that results in improved student experiences and outcomes. We asked a group of institutional, policy and thought leaders to complete the following: “Innovation in higher education is like…”

What follows is a vivid set of images representing a host of assumptions and beliefs.

What influence on the innovation process might result from these beliefs? What new opportunities might emerge from challenging them? We’d love to hear from you. Or, feel free to add a metaphor of your own.

2 Comments. Leave new

Norman L. Jones
February 11, 2016 6:39 pm

I enjoyed this. It catches the nearly impossible task we have taken on!

Chris Flanagan
February 11, 2016 6:51 pm

Oh, it sure does! I was especially fond of the grandma’s living room metaphor. I really believe higher ed innovators need to honor the past while building out the future. Because quite often, that hip lamp from the 80s might just play a significant role in the re-design. 🙂


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *