the best companies know that innovative thinking is the only competitive advantage that can't be outsourced. The best schools are those with deep cultures of creative problem-solving. But both innovation and creativity depend on imagination first: the ability and willingness to conceive of what is not. In times like these, imagination matters more than ever. And fortunately, it's something we all can cultivatewith practice.
This powerful book shows us how. At the heart of Imagination First is a set of universal practices for opening minds at work, home, and play. These 28 (and a half) practices, with titles like Think Inside the Box, Break the Hand, and Routinize Randomness, are designed to enable anyonefrom corporate executive to platoon sergeant to preschool teacherto get unstuck, to reframe challenges, and to help others do the same.
With stories drawn from the lives of leaders, teachers, scientists, artists, and other diverse professionals, Imagination First is an essential guide for practitioners of possibility at any scale and in any sector. Playful and provocative, useful and inspirational, this book transforms the way we seeso that we can change the way we live.
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About the Author
ERIC LIU is at the New America Foundation and writes for Slate magazine. He is the author of Guiding Lights and The Accidental Asian, a New York Times notable book featured in the PBS documentary Matters of Race. Eric served as a speechwriter for President Clinton in the first term and as White House deputy domestic policy advisor in the second. After the White House, he was an executive at the digital media company RealNetworks. A frequent commentator on CNN, CNBC, and MSNBC, Eric is one of GQ magazine's "Pundits We Like" and was cited by A. Magazine a one of the national's 25 most influential Asian Americans. In 2002, he was named by the World Economic Forum one of the 100 "Global Leaders of Tomorrow." He lives with his family in Seattle, where he hosts a local NPR interview show called, "The Power of Voice" and teaches at the University of Washington's Evans School of Public Affairs. Eric speaks regularly at conferences and campuses around the country.
SCOTT NOPPE-BRANDON is executive director of Lincoln Center Institute (LCI), an arts and education organization where students learn about and through the arts by focusing on works of art, including performing and visual arts, and architecture. LCI's principles support learning across the curriculum. The Institute works in partnership with pre-K through grade twelve educators and degree-granting teacher education programs, and provides numerous professional development opportunities. Founded in 1975, the Institute is the educational cornerstone of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc, and a global leader in education and the arts. Since its inception, it has reached over 3 million students and some 50,000 educators.
Table of ContentsAcknowledgments.
Lincoln Center Institute.
Part One:The Premise.
What, Why, and How.
Part Two:The Practices.
Practice 1: Make Mist.
Ready, get still, go.
Practice 2: Leave the Campfire.
Know your enemy: it is you, scared.
Practice 3: Flip What's Foolish.
Make it wise to be foolish, and every fool will generatewisdom.
Practice 4: Make Way for Awe.
Nurture humility and the wonder that comes with it.
Practice 5: Reinvent the Wheel.
Be willing to give back the givens.
Practice 6: Think Inside the Box.
Make greedy, grateful use of limits.
Practice 7: Hoard Bits.
Collect obsessively; sift; trust that the right bits willemerge.
Practice 8: Mix Your Metaphors.
Change the metaphors that frame your reality.
Practice 9: Renew Your Narrative.
Ask whether your story still serves you.
Practice 10: Untie Your Tongue.
Talk about your work with someone who doesn't understand it.
Practice 11: Swap Bodies.
Lose yourself in a role.
Practice 12: Make a Gap.
Obscure part of the picture.
Practice 12.5: Finish the Story.
Make the ending open-ended.
Practice 13: Chunk It.
Show how small it all starts
Practice 14: Don't Blink.
Snap in slow motion; see how you get primed for decision.
Practice 15: Cloud Appreciation.
Search out ambiguity and sit with it.
Practice 16: Spotlight Off, Lantern On.
Trade sharp focus for full-field awareness.
Practice 17: Play Telephone.
Engage in meaning-laundering.
Practice 18: Help Out a Boobonian.
Make every task a quest.
Practice 19: Teach Nonzero Math.
Expand the pie before dividing it.
Practice 20: Microexperiment.
Test your hunches playfully.
Practice 21: Rewrite History.
Turn "what would've been" into "what could be"
Practice 22: Design for the Hallway.
Let informal spaces thrive.
Practice 23: Routinize Randomness.
Regularly rinse out expectations.
Practice 24: Ride the z-axis.
Find elemental forms, then play with scale.
Practice 25: Challenge Your Challenges.
Find better problems.
Practice 26: Break the Hand.
Unschool yourself periodically.
Practice 27: Yes and . . . .
Never say no to an idea.
Practice 28: Fail Well.
Treat failure like a skill.
Practice X: Make Up Your Own.
Part Three:The Purposes.
For Further Exploration.