Published in International Journal of Engineering Education, Volume 28, Issue 2, January 1, 2012, pages 275-285.
Copyright © 2012 International Journal of Engineering Education.
This paper describes the educators’ disposition that we believe is required for transformational innovation. Innovating in this domain relies on interrupting existing patterns. This interruption requires the conscious recognition of patterns through an active practice of self observation. Though self observation does not necessarily need a collective process, it is served by encountering the diversity of views present in groups. Innovation in this sense consists of a fundamental identity shift in the human system and the innovators themselves. Unlike the processes of problem solving and process improvement, transformational innovation requires insight into the individual and collective attention of the designers. It also allows access to unexamined mental models and apparent cause and effect relationships. The praxis of transformational innovation within organizations looks like an active practice of reflection, experimentation and learning within the human system. We explain the theoretical perspective, suggest a protocol to begin experimenting with self observation for the purpose of pattern interruption, summarize preliminary results from a year-long process of action research involving over 25 university agents in such a change process, and comment on the limitations and risks in the protocol.
Materials Science and Engineering