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Innovative Thinking offers a new way to solve old problems

Imagine if there was a roadmap that could help you successfully tackle a complicated issue at work, or finally resolve a reoccurring challenge.  The Certificate in Innovative Thinking at Western Continuing Studies offers just that.The program teaches learners new and creative ways to approach almost any situation.

“There’s never been a time when change has been more rapid,” says Western Continuing Studies instructor Anna Foat. Organizations no longer have the luxury of investing large amounts of time and money to research and develop a new service or product, she explains, so the old ways of thinking may no longer apply.

Foat teaches Design Thinking, one of the courses that make up the Innovative Thinking curriculum.  She brings almost two decades of experience working in Canada’s high-tech sector to the classroom, beginning her career at BlackBerry in 1999. Today she serves as Director, Global Digital Transformation Office at SunLife Financial.

“Design thinking starts from a position of trying to understand what is important to the user,” Foat says.“We start from scratch and ask:Who are we serving? What matters to those people? It sounds like a simple thing, but it’s not the way organizations generally tend to think.”

Peter Sherriff completed the two-day Design Thinking workshop and has applied what he learned to his role as aWestern Continuing Studies instructor.  He currently teaches The Power of Strategic Questions, and Problem-Solving, Decision- Making and Creativity, which is also part of the Innovative Thinking curriculum.

“I was looking for inspiration. Instead of approaching things from the perspective of an instructor I wanted to shift my thinking to focus more on the student,” Sherriff says.  “Design Thinking gave me a holistic approach that allows me to close the loop.”  Sherriff found the workshop’s Empathy Map process particularly powerful.  The mind-mapping tool is something he now incorporates into his lesson-planning.  “I love it because it’s visual, it’s quick, and it helps me break down each step to make sure I get the best results for my students,” he says.

western continuing studiesThe Certificate in Innovative Thinking is about continuous improvement, he notes, and it attracts a wide range of students – from organizational leaders and managers to small business owners and entrepreneurs.

With only three required courses that are delivered in- person and online, the certificate offers a focused, practical way for busy professionals to learn new skills they can apply immediately. “It encourages you to be flexible in your thinking and it allows you to recharge your batteries,” Sherriff says.“It really kick-starts the process of looking at things in a totally different way.”

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