“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It's not about money. It's about the people you have, how you're led, and how much you get it.” - Steve Jobs

Teaching is a pre-req to learning

Today I entered my teaching space for the first time in months. This time I am just teaching for a week. And I’m teaching in a foreign country. This offers a new set of challenges and opportunities.

So far the biggest challenge of being a visiting foreign instructor is about being able to “working the system”. You can’t. You can only go w/ the flow and figure out later if the flow leads you down a clogged pipe, or worse causes you to break the rules.

The biggest opportunity so far is that I get to use material I’m very familiar with but riff and improvise in front of a 1-time audience both at the same time gaining validation on old modes of expressing ideas and being forced out of your previous analogies that may have been too culturally embedded.

An example of this occurred today during my discussion on creating affinity diagrams. In my lecture, I came up with a new analogy (for me). I discussed how as a researcher it is easiest to describe the whole forest or an individual tree in the forest. What is difficult is describing the impact that all the individual trees have in the forest on each other and on the forest itself.

Going on, I explained to them that each datapoint they captured is the equivalent to an individual tree of the total context which is the forest of the data set. They need to externalize every tree abstracting their experience into a tangible artifact. The goal then is to reveal the relationships of the data (trees) thus creating clumps of data.

The new epiphany for me coming out of this talk, was that the real win, is when a researcher can see relationships between the newly formed groups of data that would have otherwise never been realized before those groups were created. That is the power in the affinity diagramming process, that I never truly grasped till today.

Again, proving that teaching still remains for me my greatest learning tool.

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