Education consulting

Zones of Innovation: How Education Must Adapt


To keep pace with the changing world around us, it is vital that School Districts andUniversities delegate time and opportunity for the best ideas to be developed, tested, and expanded upon.  

Many practitioners view innovation as a product or integration of the newest technology craze. However, those are simply manifestations of the innovative process that precedes them.  Long before any product is created or any system goes live, innovation begins. It originates with the creative thinking process that is cultivated within an organization.  Sir Ken Robinson says “A culture of Innovation is when having creative ideas and acting on them is routine.”  The key is to establish an environment that both encourages and cultivates innovation, making it part of an organization’s culture.  

Organizations must also be adaptive when incorporating innovative ideas.  The business world has been contending with disruptive innovations for decades, if not centuries.  There were many that doubted telephones and automobiles when they first arrived, but despite this, innovations sweep the nation and the world over and over again. 

Just recently all major television networks joined together to air a special production focused on the need for innovative high schools.  The program, “XQ Super School Live,” took a detailed look at the “As-Is” and “To-Be” status of education today. Programs that prepare young people for the future by incorporating new models of education were highlighted. 

High Schools and Higher Education institutions must embark on a path that substitutes lecture for interactive and experiential learning.  The time is now to integrate all forms of media into the learning experience: video, photography, 3D printing, augmented and virtual reality, as well as gaming and collaboration facilitated through technology, just to name a few.

Incorporating the innovations of today will provide students with the learning they need to solve the problems of tomorrow.  

The Team at Curtis Strategy recognizes that harnessing creative thinking is a vital part of any organization making progress. We have created an Innovation Canvas as a means of tapping in to that creativity that is present within an organization but is often underutilized.

This series of steps is just one way that Universities and School Districts can establish zones of innovation within their organizations: 

  1. Create the i-Lab:  Innovative ideas can come from a variety of sources. The i-Lab is a place where people can share and develop their ideas into a prototype to share with organization leaders. 
  2. Selection Panel:  Establish two-four times per year that people can bring their ideas to a panel of peers and leaders who evaluate their innovative strategies.  The panel will select the most promising proposals to advance to the next stage.
  3. Testing Tank: Now that the idea has been selected, the designer, with support from the school, organizes an opportunity to test the idea/product/system in a real-life scenario. It is during this stage that the viability of the concept will be realized. 
  4. Expand or End:  The designer is now given time and resources to further develop the innovation.  This provides opportunities for reflection, modification and improvement.  If the designer is able to show positive results and real opportunity for expansion, they receive additional support.  If the innovation does not prove to be sustainable, then it is back to the drawing board!

This activity can be utilized within any Educational Organization, using our strategic planning tool, the Innovation Canvas. For more information concerning the canvas or our approach in building strategy to prepare schools or Universities for the future, please contact Eric Curtis, at