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The ABCs of Innovation: Teach Yourself to Actively Be Creative

By September 13, 2018January 21st, 2022Innovation
Michelle Histand with Philly Tech Girls

Michelle Histand and Philly Tech Girlz members during a design thinking workshop at the Independence Blue Cross Center for Health Care Innovation.

The moment I’ve been waiting for is here — September! Back to school, back to sweaters and boots, back to not needing another shower the second I step out the door.

Maybe you’ve seen the video of the mom shopping for school supplies, willing to buy anything the teachers want to get her kids out of the house. Maybe your kids are like mine, desperate to get in just 27 hours more of Fortnite each day, anticipating their school-night bedtimes making a comeback.

Even if you don’t have kids, it’s hard to escape that the month of September universally signals back-to-school in our part of the world. Have you thought about going back yourself?

Pack Your Resume with In-demand Creative Skills

It’s a great time of year to try something new, and a slew of readily-available content means you can be a student without having to sit in a classroom, if you don’t want to. In 2016, a World Economic Forum report indicated creativity would be one of the most in-demand skills in the next five years — that’s now!

The top three coveted skills? Complex problem solving, critical thinking, and creativity. And guess what? They all go together and enable each other, and they can all be learned and practiced. So, as the kids pack their pencil cases, why not pack your resume with some new skills?

Ideas for Going Back to School on Your Schedule

Here are some resources for innovation and creativity I love and consult often. Feel free to send me your progress reports!

Ideo Field Guide to Human-Centered Design – This is hands-down my favorite book because it has every innovation and design tool you could need for getting down to serious business in the most creative way possible. There’s a free download of the PDF version of the book, but I’m a sucker for the hard copy, and at around $45 it’s well worth it. Ideo also offers occasional free online courses; grab a couple of friends to form a team and take one.

Design Thinking and Creativity for Innovation on edX – So many online courses, so little time! Coursera, edX, and several other massive open online courses are out there. This one from edX is a good starting point with some basics, is self-paced, and is free (with an optional certificate for $99).

Certificates in Creativity and Innovation – Most local universities are getting deep into the innovation space, since we know it’s a skill employers demand (see above).

I teach at Temple University, which offers an undergraduate degree in Innovation and a master’s degree in Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship. Our team at Temple can also put together specialized certificate programs according to an employer’s needs.

Two other schools, Drexel University and the University of the Arts, offer graduate-level degrees in creativity. Why not look into these programs, and put your employer’s tuition reimbursement policy to work?

This blog was was originally published on LinkedIn.


Michelle Histand

As Director of Innovation at Independence Blue Cross, Michelle uses design to solve sticky problems in health care and beyond. She loves taking a mess and making sense of it while giving people new tools and frameworks to get creative. She has been with IBX for over 15 years and previously worked with LA Weight Loss and Nordstrom, where she gained a wealth of customer experience insight. Michelle has her bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts and her master’s in Writing Studies from St. Joseph’s University. She also teaches topics on innovation and entrepreneurship at Temple University. When she’s not drawing flip charts and ideating, Michelle spends her time in South Philadelphia with her husband and three amazing boys, who do their best to exhaust her tireless energy.