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Masters in Innovation, Creativity and Leadership - Alison shares her experiences from her first year of study.

As one of the first intake for this new, multi-disciplinary Masters at City University London, I feel like a pioneer.  There are twenty of us, all different ages and from a variety of backgrounds including large corporates, consultancies, arts organisations, charities and public sector.

It’s been an amazing first year and much of what we’ve covered so far has been really useful to integrate with my work at Per Diem.  The mixture of academic theory and exploration of the origins of current practice, together with very practical tools and techniques has been particularly useful to me in developing some new Per Diem products and services.

Our first module was Creative Writing, led by Barbara Norden in the School of Arts.  On the face of it, it seemed a rather strange module for this course but this assumption was quickly proved wrong.  It was a very practical module and we produced masses of new and exciting material.  We shared and commented on each other's work each week and in doing so we got to know each other very well.  We gained confidence in our own abilities and became more able to provide constructive criticism of the material we produced.  We have come away with a whole host of useful techniques for structuring business communications.  We looked at the Hero’s Journey, poetry, the visual media of film and computer games, script-writing, characterisation, speech writing.  We practiced using a variety of creativity tools many of which I wish to use in my work.  For me, it was an inspiring 10 weeks that really helped me with the development of our new products and services.  It’s also inspired me to enter a number of writing competitions and I've already been shortlisted for one of them!  

The second module was Creative Problem Solving and Leadership, delivered by Andy Wilkins from Cass Business School.  This contained a mix of academic and practical approaches and certainly gave us food for thought on the elements of effective leadership.  We learnt a lot about our own personal styles and were given many opportunities to try out tools and techniques for setting the right climate for innovation and for leading and facilitating groups in idea generation and problem solving.  This was really helpful in broadening my toolkit for facilitating groups.

Our third module was Leading Creative Design, delivered by Professor Neil Maiden from the School of Informatics.  This was another mix of academic theory and practical application, by means of a case study exercise, using the university as the subject.  Working in teams, we problem-solved, explored ideas and developed solutions using a variety of techniques which have come from the design and IT domains.  We then produced a design specification which we presented to senior management at the university.  This was problem-solving and innovation in action!

Our fourth module was the Psychology of Creativity and Innovation, delivered by Professor Fiona Patterson and Dr Maura Kerrin from the School of Social Sciences.  We explored creativity and innovation from the people point of view, from individual to group level and then to organisational level.  It proved to be a complex arena but, for me, it was a fascinating one.  Given my background in motivation and performance improvement, I particularly enjoyed this module and it has given me some ideas for my final dissertation.  It has also provided me with some solid underpinning of academic theory for creativity and innovation in practice.

We resume in September, so watch this space!  In the meantime, you may wish to visit the MICL website to find out more and to read  Masters in Innovation, Creativity and Leadership, City University London Blog.

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