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Ewan McIntosh on Design Thinking, Creativity and Mindset – PP61

The topic of the week is Ewan McIntosh on Design Thinking, Creativity and Mindset.


It was great to speak to Ewan McIntosh from the enigmatically-named NoTosh global consultancy this week.Ewan didn’t want to be a teacher and went as far as joining the army to avoid his family tradition of entering education. However, he ended up teaching in France for a time and found he really enjoyed the process of switching learners on. In the early 90s, teaching was a difficult profession to be in, financially, so Ewan considered creating some kind of online business instead but, after the McCrone report made changes to teachers’ salaries and conditions in Scotland he returned there and started engaging learners through the new tools of social media. His school was the first in Europe to start podcasting and they also blogged extensively. In those days he had to have students hand-coding xml files in order to get the podcast episodes into itunes – how things have changed!

EwanMcIntosh2012smOn the back of creating large partnerships of schools, the Scottish Government asked Ewan to come and lead some projects for them. These were initially very successful but, when he tried to spread the practice to other local authorities, he ran into many cultural problems which made the adoption of the projects impossible.

This experience prompted Ewan to leave education and he found himself working for Channel 4, developing digital products. This showed him what it meant to be really creative and he wondered why we weren’t teaching to children the fact that it was possible to be creative and still do really well.

So as a result, Ewan created NoTosh to work with anyone in education or the creative industries. It’s all about showing how people can create a much brighter future for their employees or their learners.

The original idea behind NoTosh was to work with creative businesses and then bring that learning back into schools, blended with relevant research. The aim was to show that creative and academic goals could live side by side and complement each other.

Long Term Relationships

NoTosh develop long-term relationships with schools – 3 or 5 years and recently they have realised that ‘creativity’ is no longer a big enough term for what they do. They have used the techniques of ‘design thinking’ but that also has been hijacked and its meaning changed. They are developing relationships with some of the largest and most important companies and organisations in the world and they are increasingly working around the concept of ‘learning spaces’ in education – not just the technological space but also the physical, digital and curricular space in which we operate – and of course the pedagogical space.

There are projects in curricular areas but also developing notions around teacher learning events take place. Ewan helped to create the TeachMeet format and now NoTosh are taking this further with partners like Google to define what a teacher education event could look like 5 or 10 years from now.

What NoTosh have realised as they have developed is that creative companies have at least as much to learn from schools as the other way round.

Get Involved With The Lab

There is a section of NoTosh’s website called ‘The Lab‘ where they give a way a lot of their techniques, project approaches and tools – what they call ‘actionable innovations’. One of the easiest to explain and use is ‘Ungooglable Questions’. Another essential concept is about volume – those who find 100 ideas around a topic are far more likely to have one or two brilliant ones in amongst them than a group who only come up with 5 or 10. There are full instructions for these activities as well as many more in The Lab.

Ewan says making all this available is entirely worth it just for what they get back from educators who have been able to make use of it. There will always be plenty of innovators to work with so it doesn’t harm the company at all and spreads the word about what NoTosh do in completely positive way.

Ewan takes time to explain all these aspects of their work in great detail so do listen to the episode.

Find Ewan and NoTosh on Twitter – @NoTosh @ewanmcintosh

Check out the book – How to Come Up With New Ideas And Actually Make Them Happen


Pivotal Podcast Pocketbooks

PEpocketbook-BUNDLE2Newly-created Pivotal Podcast Pocketbooks are now available from Amazon. There will be a huge range of Pocketbooks from Pivotal Education, starting with the edited transcripts of some of the most popular episodes of the podcast.

The idea of releasing written versions of episodes came from listeners who wanted to be able to make notes and use the content in different ways. If you would like a particular episode to be converted into an ebook, please let us know!

(Creative Commons Sound clip by Johnny Pixel Productions, Inc. –



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