In Conversation with Trish Kill – MICL Student

Trish Kill - MICL CogsTrish is a current student of the Masters in Innovation, Creativity and Leadership (MICL). After successful completion of her first year she is now undertaking the second year of the part-time course and will be embarking on her dissertation in 2014. Trish worked for News International until 2012 and now runs her own consultancy business http://www.trishkillconsulting.co.uk

Tell us how you became a MICL student.

“I initially made my first enquiries in April 2012 and started the MICL course in October 2012. 2012 was a big year, I hit the big 50; and having spent 15 years at ‘News’ building a challenging and rewarding career with lots of long days and late nights, I decided to leave and try new things. I came into News when I was in my mid-30s with an appetite for making up for lost ground in my career. I put an MBA I’d started on hold as promotion and responsibilities took over. So, there was some ‘unfinished business’ which I aim to complete through the MICL. MBA studies certainly served their purpose, however I needed a new angle, which the MICL is certainly delivering.

What helped you in your decision to become a MICL student?

“I liked the feel of City and it was the only University offering a combination of creativity, leadership and innovation. I was looking for something new and like me the MICL was finding its feet – a shared challenge. I came to an open evening in April and met Dr Sara Jones the Course Director and two students from the previous year. I was sure that I’d find it difficult, and getting back into study was daunting so, when signing up for the MICL which started in October 2012, I also signed up for a ten week creative writing course which started that May as a precursor. Completing that meant I was able to get myself comfortable with my surroundings and that was reassuring. I have been thrilled by how its all worked out, it was the shot in the arm I needed.

Can you walk me through what it’s like to be a mature student?

“Most of us forget how old we are until we are looking in the mirror! The MICL is about a new way of looking at things. On a peer group level I have had the opportunity to be helpful and useful –importantly it’s reciprocated. You never know when an avenue of learning is going to open up. My advice to someone would be to be prepared to jump in and make a splash. People will support you making mistakes as long as you do likewise for those around you.

Can you talk about an encounter on the MICL that completely took you by surprise?

“The ‘Creative problem solving and leadership’ (CPSL) module in the first semester helped us be patient with each other. This meant that when we started the ‘Leading creative design’ module there was this established climate of good will and respect, and we were able to identify with each other’s problem solving styles. All credit to Andy Wilkins our CPSL tutor. He uses principles that encourage collaboration and resists the creation of factions. We have had teams that were competing against other, yet still shared information. It was very sporting and supportive. We were also able to draw on our creative writing/script writing module in our team design project. Realising how to use the MICL modules to build a holistic approach to projects was very satisfying.

You’ve set up your own consultancy. What advice would you give on becoming an independent consultant?

“My key advice is to go slowly and consider the following
• If you’re employed then take a year to plan towards becoming an independent consultant.
• Be very careful about the profile you want to develop if you want to develop one at all. You have to maintain and evolve it.
• Get an accountant, and decide if you are a self employed or limited company and find out about the different responsibilities, liabilities and opportunities associated with each..
• Have a rate-card for your products and services and know your own value.
• Gather information and understand your market. Look at what others are offering and be flexible and imaginative about how you can give a company what they’re looking for without devaluing your rate-card.
• There are times when you have to say NO to work. Even in lean times.

What challenges have you had to face working as an independent consultant and studying, how did you overcome these?

“You’ve got three things that you are managing. You’re managing the work you’re doing for your customer, the work you’re doing for yourself (unpaid because you’re not paying yourself), and then you have your study. It can be stressful but there are peaks and troughs. It can also be difficult on your own, so find your network. Having a range of people, who aren’t necessarily doing the same thing that you’re doing, but in the same place enables you to compare notes and give each other a well done. Express an interest in the people around you and be flexible. Humility and humour will also take you a long way.

What books on the MICL have inspired you?

‘Jack’s Notebook’ by Gregg Fraley, I loved reading it before I joined the MICL. It gave me the courage to persist in the first few weeks in the Masters degree, and as a result I couldn’t wait to get to the creative problem solving module. ‘Creativity’ by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi was both insightful, and useful, and helped me to prepare for the interview I did with Andrew Mullins of the Evening Standard.

Watch Trish’s interview with Andy Mullins, Evening Standard http://www.city.ac.uk/centre-for-creativity-in-professional-practice/research/student-projects#Trish

Reflections on Reflection

Image

 

I was asked recently to prepare and deliver a talk for Business Studies undergrads at Cass Business School on the topic of Reflective Practice.  Pulling strands together from my current academic endeavours, my career to-date and my busy family life, I realised just how important it is to being a fully rounded human being!  How I wish someone had introduced me to Reflective Practise as an undergraduate or even earlier in my education.  It seems to me to be a life skill we should all learn early so that it becomes second nature.

I started my own blog a few months ago to help with my own personal reflection.  During our recent Technologies for Creativity and Innovation module, we were required to write reflective tweets and I’ve carried on doing it (@AlisonDuffyMICL).  I’m also putting together a reflective journal for assessment as part of our Creative Industries module.  I’m finding all of this activity fascinating, energising and really helpful.  I’m discovering who I am and what I’m capable of and I’m listening to my ‘inner voice’. 

Looking back on something to examine what went well and what didn’t is so important in all aspects of our lives.  Recognising feelings, behaviour patterns and mental models is relevant to relationships, team working, leadership, creativity, innovation, self-awareness, confidence, motivation…

Why is it then, that very few organisations seem to encourage it? 

Reflection requires time, space and a desire to discover how things really are.  And it’s personal.

Have I just answered my own question?!

 

Taking the MICL – Lived experience

We here at the Centre for Creativity could tell you all about our Masters in Innovation, Creativity and Leadership (MICL), but there is nothing quite like hearing about the experience directly from current students, so why not have a look at some of the things the current MICL students are saying about the course:

Alison Duffy, one of the students on the MICL has posted a very nice piece on her experience of the first year of taking the MICL on her company website, Per Diem Projects (www.perdiemprojects.com).

Marc Scheimann, last year’s scholarship competition winner writes about the MICL experience in his blog,  http://scheimann.tumblr.com/

Katherine William-Powlett, also a MICL student writes a blog about innovation, you can read it here: http://www.ncvo-vol.org.uk/networking-discussions/blogs/194

By the way, the 2011 scholarship competition is still open until the 5th July – don’t miss out!

A New Renaissance for Creative Design?

[tweetmeme]I recently went to the excellent exhibition of Italian Renaissance drawings at the British Museum.
Verrocchio's Head of a Woman

The drawings were, of course, amazing, and included works such as the Head of a Woman by Verrocchio, and Leonardo’s first landscape (1473). But what has stayed with me, as well as the memory of the drawings themselves, is a couple of thoughts the exhibition triggered about today’s world of design and technical innovation.

So, the main source of material for new works of art before the Renaissance period were ‘model books’ – collections of images and compositions from which artists copied and used ideas and representations they liked. During the Renaissance, artists began to take their inspiration and draw more directly from nature, leading to a more naturalistic style, and more freedom for creative expression. This was in part due to the increasing availability of paper – much cheaper than vellum – on which drawings could be made.

My favourite section of the exhibition was dedicated to explaining the impact on artistic practice of the new tools (such as paper) and techniques for drawing that were developing at the time of the Renaissance. For example, how the use of pen and ink for sketching was increasingly favoured for its responsiveness and expressive capabilities, how techniques for drawing using silverpoint – that couldn’t be erased – compared with those for drawing with lead – that could be rubbed out and changed, and how the development of print-making techniques enabled designs to be mechanically replicated and shared with larger numbers of people for the first time. The exhibition shows how developments of this kind in drawing laid the foundation for a new world of art.

It struck me that current developments in interactive tools and technologies offer the potential to deliver a similar revolution in today’s world of creative design. Interactive technologies are more pervasive and available to us all than ever before – they are in our buildings, on our desks and in our pockets. We can share digital artefacts as never before, and the possibilities of gestural interaction offered by devices such as the Wii and iPad offer huge potential for flexible and fluid interaction. How are such developments in new technologies laying the foundation for a new world of creative design?

This is a question I’m looking forward to exploring in my course on Technologies for Creativity and Innovation as part of our new Masters in Innovation, Creativity and Leadership. In the meantime, I’ll be happy to share more experiences, and hear yours too.

Pressure to Innovate Getting to You?

innovation[tweetmeme]Everywhere you look/listen these days people are talking about Innovation. Business is talking about it, universities are talking about it, government is talking about it.  We need to innovate to solve climate change, and we need to innovate to stay ahead of the game… Then there is the call to innovate our way out of the economic downturn.  When don’t we need to innovate?

What is innovation anyway? Is everyone talking about the same thing? Maybe not. There are many definitions to choose from. Just google it, you’ll have more choices than you could ever want. As with everything deemed important, everyone has a take on it. It’s hard to know when you qualify as innovative. Has Open Innovation caught your attention yet? Perhaps it should? The mind boggles…

Add to it all the statistics that proclaim “90% of innovations fail!” (or somewhere in that region), it might just make most of us want to give up before we even try. What’s the point?

Feeling daunted by the pressure to innovate? Fear not, there is light at the end of the innovation tunnel, with blue skies thinking and implementable action plan to boot.

What if someone could give you the skills you needed to understand innovation, give you an understanding of what it takes to lead innovation, and the tools to make it happen? Would you want it? We’d like to think you would. Check out our new Masters in Innovation, Creativity and Leadership http://creativity.city.ac.uk/master/overview.html