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Interesting encyclopedias

SAGE gives free access to lots of their encyclopedias from March 12 until April 16. I have browsed through the SAGE Encyclopedia of Social Science Research Methods and the Encyclopedia of Human Development. Lots if interesting stuff! (Note that free access only works when logging in from your university library). After April 16 try the Encyclopaedia of Informal Education (free access really is free access here). The articles offer a good overview of various concepts and thinkers (e.g. on the work of Donald Schon or Chris Argyris).

Action Research into Supporting International NGOs to Learn


This well-written paper by Maaike Smit, is online available: We're Too Much in 'To Do' Mode: Action Research into Supporting International NGOs to Learn. Her study, for which data was collected within three NGO's was guided by these questions:

  1. How do international development NGO's learn in practice?
  2. From her literature review on organisational learning and from initial interviews it became clear that how people think and talk about learning (the discourse they use) strongly influences the way they are able to shape organisational learning in practice.That's why question 2 is: how do int developm org think and talk about learning- wat is their discourse?
  3. And, question 3: How can action research help to support organisational learning by promoting joint reflection on organisational learning processes?

Activating research methods Smit used are, amongst others: creating a storyline, discussing Kolb's learning cycle and looking at learning principles. Findings of her study comprise:

  • The organisations characterized themselves all as having an activist learning style.
  • Over half of the respondents found their ability to conceptualise (one of the phases in Kolb's learning cycle) the least developed.
  • The respondents feel the need to focus on systematising learning experiences and knowledge by writing them down. However, when looking at their organisational learning practice, they value talking with others.
  • Respondents feel there is little time for reflection.
  • The researcher observes that by organising her research activities iin the way she did, she created space for reflection and learning that may not normally have occurred.

European conference for Creativity and Innovation

14 Oct 2007
17 Oct 2007

Recently I found out about The European Association for Creativity and Innovation (E.A.C.I.). They want "to contribute to a better understanding, practice and acceptance of creativity and innovation in Europe". It looks really interesting. Not too single focused on creativity and inventions: innovation has an important place. The 10th European Conference for Creativity and Innovation (ECCI X) will be held in October this year in Copenhagen. I consider going there. They have the ambition to make a combination of both academic and business. They announce creative forms to be used in the 'paper jam sessions'. I like that! No more sessions on learning on innovation where you don't learn anything or that are not innovative at all. It's about time for the form of these conferences to become equal and similar with their themes.


21 May 2007
23 May 2007

I just announced innoday and now look at this: innotown. It's getting better all the time. Innotown is Norway´s annual innovation conference: "
InnoTown is a truly unusual business conference for people who want to open up to the new opportunities that lie beyond the traditionally tried and tested". The programma looks very diverse. With subjects like:

  • The business value of cross-cultural innovation.
  • Finding the spark: A Cirque du Soleil Approach to Managing Talent


29 Mar 2007

convention factoryMarch 29 in the Amsterdam Convention Factory Innoday will take place. Looks like a cool event (althoug in Dutch). Focused on businesslife; Research on innovation is not scheduled as such.

Open access journals

It is about time for science to democratize... Fortunately I am not the only to believe in that. I found quite a lot of open access journals and articles lately. In the Netherlands there is the 'Keur der Wetenschap'. A place where lots of articles of Dutch scientists can be found. Recently the work of Robert-Jan Simons was added to this database. The database is also very helpful in finding on-line versions of dissertations.
Another place to visit (and to stay for a whole afternoon, browsing your way through all the interesting stuf!) is the Dirctory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). From this site you can access lots of journals in various fields (from food sciences to social science). Within every field the journals are divided into sub-themes. I browsed through some magazines under 'education' and found it worthwhile. In the he Journal of Cognitive Affective Learning I found an interesting article on 'the relationship between love and knowledge'. A well-written article in an interesting field. One could tell that most of the journals are peer-reviewed. It obviously ensures their quality. In the Journal of Educational Enquiry I found an article on the value of think-aloud-data in understanding learning. So, lots of interesting and good stuff that is accessible to anyone with an internet-connection!

Questions and answers


This weekend I joined a workshop on questions and dialogue. In the beautiful village of Fulda (where every single person somehow seemed to expect us!) we made our own dialogue-game. As a researcher asking questions is one of my biggest passions. As a consultant I learned the power of questions in creating conversations that really matter. In the workshop, facilitated by Carsten Ohm who is initiator of Unfolding Cards, we explored different kinds of questions. I very much like the distiction between:

  • Questions for the mind --> Thinking (T)
  • Questions for the heart --> Feeling (F)
  • Questions for the body --> Sensing (S)
  • Questions for the soul --> Intuition (I)

It depends on the people, the time, the context, what questions appeal. A group of managers who just came back from a retrait might ask different questions than a professor from university.

Each of us developed her/his own game. It were quite different kinds of games: one for conflict solving, one to stimulate innovation, one to tame your inner cremlins... We found out that many questions however (some with a little adaptation) could be used in different games:

  • Whose opinion would add something now? (T)
  • What slogan should accompany the innovation? (F)
  • When you couldn’t hear and would enter the room, what would you see? (S)
  • When this innovation project would be part of a bigger project/movement, what would that be? (I)

The workshop did of course also bring up some new questions (what else should a workshop on questions do..). We forced ourselves to formulate them into Thinking, Feeling, Sensing and Intuition-questions (an amazing exercise!). They sound like this:

  • (T) How does the experience of the game changes by changing the rules?
  • (S) What and whom do you need to host your first game?
  • (I) Which process us your game a part of?
  • (F) How would children play the game and what could we learn from that?

A variation on this way of working is to formulate your urgent question in 4 questions, T, F, S, I. That offers quite new perspectives!

Obviously, making a game that wants to stimulate learning is quite different from a game like monopoly that is developed to relax. One of the main differences for me that learning goes together with action (you want to start doing something else, act differently e.g). One of the questions that stays with me: how can a question-game, that mainly stimulates a refelection process, can lead to the design of a first experiment?

The facilitator of the workshop, Carsten Ohm was, just as some of the other participants, involved in the Pioneers of Change-network. Their website is worthwhile visiting, lots of unknown treasures!. Ohm supports the idea of open innovation very much. He works with a 'friend-chise concept' and games created can be found at the Creative Commons, a (nonprofit) organization with a great mission. Creative Commons uses private rights to create public goods: creative works set free for certain uses. Like the free software and open-source movements, our ends are cooperative and community-minded, but our means are voluntary and libertarian. We work to offer creators a best-of-both-worlds way to protect their works while encouraging certain uses of them — to declare "some rights reserved."

Read more on making your own game...

Design Research in the educational context

The most important argument to choose for design research stems from the desire to increase the relevance of research for (educational) practice and policy. That is the statement the editors of this volume on design research, van den Akker, Gravemeijer, McKenney and Nieveen, start with. That is a good reason indeed and it is exactly what drives me in my own research.

In this volume they bring together theory and practical examples of design research, also referred to as design studies, development(al) research, formative research or formative evaluation. The context is that of education but I found the book to contain interesting notions for the context of HRD as well.

McKenney, Nieveen and van den Akker, in chapter five, look at design research from a curriculum perspective. They see three kinds of output from design research (similar to the three aspects curriculum should be oriented to):


  • Knowledge: they regard knowledge as the primary output of design research. This usually takes the form of design principles. They state that "design principles are not intended as recipes for success, but to help others select and apply the most appropriate substansive and procedural knowledge for specific design and development tasks in their own setting" (pp. 73)
  • Society: The secondary output consists of the products (e.g. programmes, teacher guides, tools, online environments) that are developed during the course of the research.
  • Learner: The professional development of the participants in the research is mentioned as the tertiary output of design research. The data-collection methods can be designed and used to stimulate reflection, dialogue and engagement.

This book offers guidelines for conducting design research, it offers insights in its deliverables, as well as its pitfalls. It can be ordered via Bol or Amazon.

Van den Akker, J., Gravemeijer, K., McKenney, S., & Nieveen, N. (2006). Educational design research. London: Routledge.

Workshop on learning blockages

Last week I gave a workshop on learning blockages together with two of my colleagues at the conference for the Dutch association V&V. We worked very actively with a group of 130 people (I am convinced! It is possible!) on blockages in individual learning, team learning and organisational learning. Heike Wabbels was the expert on individual learning blockages (such as hindering convictions), Saskia Tjepkema told about the cultural and structural factors that can hinder organisational learning and I shared my findings on team learning. The design principle of 'working from individual motive' took a central place in my story. Attached to this post are the slides we used and the contribution on team blockages (both in Dutch!).

Tips to promote innovation

After a short historical overview of the role of innovation throughout the ages, Rosabeth Moss Kanter shares with us the lessons that can be learned from that. Some lessons are new, some are old, but all are worthwhile reading. I recognise almost all of them from my own research in innovative teams. One of the pitfalls she mentions is 'to act as if only products count', even though transformative new ideas can come from a range of functions such as production and marketing'. As an example she mentions the interactive website Procter & Gamble made for the soap opera it sponsors. This may prove to be more valuable for the companies future than its new inventions such as Swiffer. The authors distinguishes four types of lessons:

  • Strategy lessons: 'Not every innovative idea has to be ablockbuster'.
  • Process lessons: Allow for 'disobedience': if employees in their yearly review are rewarded only for doing what they committed to, and even punished for everything they did outside this framework of appointments and rules, you can be sure that innovation is not going to take place.
  • Structure lessons: 'Facilitate close connections between innovators and mainstream business'.
  • Skills lessons: 'Surround innovators with a supportive culture of collaboration').

This article offers some concrete handles for those who want to (learn more about) promote innovation.

Moss Kanter, R. (2006). Innovation, the classic traps. Harvard business review, 84(11), 72-83.

Moss Kanter_innovation the classic traps.pdf521.39 KB