After a delicious meal at Bottoms Up Pizza, the Ambassadors rode to the Science Museum for a session with Dr. Kenneth B. Kahn, director of the da Vinci Center with the help of Seth Caskey, coordinator of Virginia Commonwealth University’s da Vinci Center for Innovation, to learn more ideas about innovation. Said Mr. Caskey, “[the da Vinci Center for Innovation defines] innovation as a two part definition: it’s a process… [but] its also an outcome.” The da Vinci Center teaches and advances collaboration between students across Virginia Commonwealth University’s curriculum, with a focus upon innovation and entrepreneurship.
Dr. Kenneth B. Kahn led the International Emerging Leaders in a workshop demonstrating the da Vinci Center’s creative process. First, he gave each team member a single minute to think of great ideas. Next, he directed their individual creative energy towards improving the chairs in which they sat, for “Innovation works well and better when we give you a focus… because oftentimes people will talk about innovation, and say, ‘We are innovating!,’ but no one really knows what they are innovating.” . Finally, Dr. Kahn let the teams share ideas, which led to audibly greater success. Explaining this effect, Dr. Kahn said, “Innovation is like a team sport, and many programs tend to look at it as a discipline-specific endeavor… but we like to make you realize that collaboration is an important part of innovation.”
However, every Ambassador’s face showed surprise when Dr. Kahn directed, “I want you to pretend that the world is being taken over by animals… each of you is going to get an animal, and I want you to solve [your environmental issue] as if the animal would have solved the problem.” The participants deliberated and struggled, and certainly thought of interesting solutions. Dr. Kahn ended the session with the advice, “Innovation is not the same thing as ideas, but it does incorporates ideas… Innovation requires execution… With innovation, you have to think about how you actually implement this idea.”
Said Alberto P., “[Dr. Kahn’s workshop] was crazy… it helped us stop and think about how much the project would cost.”