The best way to describe my personal story of creativity, innovation, and change as I proceeded through the course is to use the world’s technological advancement as a parallel. The period before the course would be the period up to the mid-20th century and from the point the course started would be the incredibly fast pace of world’s technological advancement ever since.
Starting with Week 1 material – and when I say m a t e r i a l, I mean the video lectures, the recommended reading, the idea cloud, the exercises, and the discussion forums – the pace was set. My creativity style and the master driving force in all my life decisions were identified. Having gone through all the material, I was highly anticipating Week 2 material which was very influential and set new standards for me.
At this time, I had a personal method for keeping track of ideas which was more of a hassle than a benefit due to the low efficiency and the uneasy process of inputting ideas when they occur. Having gone through Week 2 video lectures combined with discussion forums, I set what-I-would-later-learn-to-call a Big Rock for that week – the Big Rock was streamlining my idea journal method. The video lecture Idea Journal led me to set this Big Rock and the discussion forums helped me knock down the Big Rock. After experimentation with several methods and applications, I found a method that suited me very well and made the idea journal method an enjoyable benefit. Next up was the Idea Generation Technique exercise which completely and in a positive way changed how I approach problem solving. The techniques learned in the exercises I applied to a business project – BalkanViator – that my friends and I have launched on July 2012. To keep it short and not go into the details, BalkanViator’s mission is to enhance the quality of travel experience in Southeast Europe by organizing – and making easily accessible, information on bus, taxi, and carpool travel while promoting tourism, culture, and a positive image of the region. How was the mission made? The mission was made during the CIC course and by using methods and materials from the course!
BalkanViator’s mission is to make planning journeys in South-east Europe convenient by organizing information on bus timetables, bus tickets, taxi services, and ride-sharing and making it easily accessible online.
Have a look at the
Going further, the existing goals of the project were streamlined and new goals were added by using the newly learned creativity and brainstorming methods from the course. The pace at which everything was coming together in the project was lightning fast. Then an inspirational Idea Cloud video “My invention that made peace with lions” by Richard Turere showed me how one can achieve success without having it done on someone else’s account. By that I am referring to the creative thinking process that Richard Turere went through before coming up with a solution – an invention – that helped the village cattle remain untouched by lions without killing or harming lions in any way. This video material had a profound affect on me that from that point on made me strive to always maintain the “mutual benefit of all parties involved” factor as much as the situation allows when looking for solutions to a problem.
Week 3 standout was the exercise Bold Act of Defiance. How much do we all worry about not breaking cultural norms and worrying about whether something we do might cause shock and stares from others? The result of completing this exercise was more than just having completed an exercise and overcoming the uncomfortable feeling when breaking a cultural norm. It set a new way of how I think, how I do things, how I create. It spread into every area of my life.
Week 4 was about learning how to improve communication and better channel team’s skills towards productivity. The recommended reading on Crucial Conversation reinforced the thought of having to listen and not just hear what is being said in a conversation. It reinforced the old saying that always resounded when I converse with someone – “Listen. Don’t just wait for your turn to speak.” This was a week when our team began communicating more often and collectively working on any goal or issue in our project. New standards were set, new light was shed upon the strengths and weaknesses of the team and the project. Ideas came as how to convert weaknesses into strengths. It was a period of great reorganization through brainstorming and collaborative team communication.
The project, at this point, has existed for almost 18 months and although we had received tremendous feedback and request from our website’s visitors, the data was not analyzed in depth which would produce ideas on how to further improve things. It is Week 5 and having read Chapter 5 of the book Innovation or Die – The Role of Experimentation, our team began looking more closely at feedback data received from our website’s visitors to this point and started brainstorming on how it can be used to improve the website. Inspired by and more determined after reading the chapter, we made a decision based upon the feedback from our website’s visitors – which was to have the ability to book bus tickets online – to launch a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to develop the first ever online bus ticketing system in Southeast Europe. We would attempt to gather the funds, succeed or fail in the campaign, we would succeed from the new feedback and new experience learned throughout the making and the duration of the campaign. One thing that Professor Matson mentions in Chapter 5 is that “Research shows that creativity varies with age, peeking first in the mid to late thirties, then in a person’s early sixties. This double peak is attributed to normal life events; it takes roughly ten years for young adults to attain mastery of their profession and are first ready to be creative.” Having read the book Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill while taking the CIC course, I know that in Chapter 11 of his book – The Mystery of Sex Transmutation he claims a similar thing as he states that most men who succeed in life usually do it once they enter their forties. The Role of Experimentation got our team rolling into an experimentive mode. We were on our way to produce a crowdfunding campaign.
Week 6 was tough. Measuring some ideas – to be more specific – is tough. That means this was something that I needed to learn much about. Setting any goal is easy, but setting a smart goal – I realized – takes effort and concentration. I learned that if a goal is not smart – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time framed – than it will be tough to measure it.
The Big Rock approach was infinitely helpful in Week 7. The amount of materials absorbed and the knowledge gained up to this week has been tremendous. Just seven weeks ago, I thought I was organized and efficient, and here I am now in disbelief at how much I have improved the quality of my time, my thoughts, my actions, and last-but-not-least, my goals. Thanks to the m a t e r i a l from this course. It was exciting setting two Big Rocks to concentrate on for the week and it will be for many, MANY weeks to come.
Sir Ken Robinson’s speech from the Idea Cloud was very inspirational. After having watched the video, I was grateful for all the material provided by the professors to me and the colleagues. Every, every material was worth the time it took to read or view. I was thankful for having the privilege to be given this proofed-known-to-be-quality-filtered material from the professors for the whole duration of this course. Every video and reading had a message, or an inspiration, or a lesson to be learned from it, and ideas to be generated from it. Week 8 was consistent with all other weeks. Consistent in a way that it kept teaching me new things, but also led me to reflect on the course. The exercise I chose was to write a letter to a friend summarizing the course and what I’ve learned from it. It was a great, needed exercise idea.
Now the course is finished and its influence continues to grow with time. At this point in time, our project has been given a rocket boost by the material learned in this course. We have a clear mission, a great vision, and smart goals.
By the end of the month of November 2013, we will be finishing up the two months long reconstruction work of the website aiming to improve user interaction and experience, to improve the SEO rankings of the website, and by 10th December we will be finishing up our Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign (http://igg.me/at/balkanviator/x/5341495) that aims to raise funds for the project’s goal of developing the first ever online bus ticketing system in Southeast Europe. Noting that within the first week of the campaign, an article on Montenegro’s main news media portal was published to promote on our campaign and the NIU Dekalb media as well as Chicago area media has contacted us about doing a story on our project and campaign. With that said, it is almost scary for me to share with you the following text below which is the exact text of the Starting Point that we had set for our project in Week 2 of this CIC course.
• Increase traffic to website by
◦ improving search engine optimization of the website
◦ improving user interaction experience on the website
◦ marketing the website on social media networks and in media
• Begin implementation of bus and carpooling systems
• Raise funds for the project
I look forward to taking part in next year’s course along with bringing some friends into it as well.
UPDATE – June 2014
On May 16th 2014, BalkanViator was selected as one of the winners at the annually held Balkan Venture Forum and invited to the Europe Venture Summit in Germany as one of the top 100 start up companies in Europe. Along with that, the team will be launching a new website design and an online ticketing system this summer.