Just Seven Things

Exploring why and how we do what we do, and how we can do it better

Archive for the category “Creativity”

Are you having visions?

Well, if you’re not, you should be.

The power of the human imagination is still relatively little researched. Productivity literature, parents and teachers ask us to focus on the task in hand and our project plans. Yet we know through our human history that it has been the big thinkers that have enabled our faster progress as a human race: not those who just focus on the here & now and accept the norm.

As animals, we are goal oriented (food, sex….) and from what we know about our evolution, we can speculate that a sophistication in our goal setting was introduced as we developed consciousness. We could defer satisfaction. Invest time and energy, working together for a longer-term and ultimately more rewarding goal. I suspect this skill is also subject to further evolution. We can be bound by what we know, as framed by our human history and what we tell each other. Limited by the current ‘realities’ of our knowledge. Or we can recognise this will just bring us a tomorrow that looked like yesterday.

Instead, we need to recognise our own power of imagination. We use the same parts of our brain in imagining as we do in remembering. Your ‘brain’ doesn’t really know that your big vision hasn’t already happened; therefore you are the only blocker to your dreams. Your limiting self-beliefs, your why-nots. So let’s take advantage of our sophistication. Let’s blow the doors off everything that limits us. Let’s all start to have visions that we’re proud of: our reality is what we make it.

Fortunately a giant robot dinosaur called FAKEGRIMLOCK comes to the rescue of our human limitations on a post on Eric Ries’ Lean Startup blog. My favourite part:




Leadership Traps: Thinking too Fast and Continuing Biases

I’ve been thinking about leadership traps I’ve read about recently (predominantly in Guy Claxton’s Hare Brain Tortoise Mind, but brought into relief by various mainstream Management Today, Fortune and FT articles)

By leadership traps I’m thinking of things (like ‘not reading management texts because of apparently being already ‘at the top of the tree”) that appear to be structural faults in a number of management and leadership teams and the nature of the relationships therein:

  1. The ‘sycophancy’ of leaders not being challenged, with the result that their beliefs and business/ life ‘filters’ drive the same types of decision-making that they always make
  2. Too busy and too fast: the super-human CEO. Carlos Ghosn (as much as I admire him) style of hyper-tasking – he is CEO of both Renault and Nissan. I wrote previously about whether the leadership position would have to morph over time into the thoughtful/ contemplative strategic CEO and the ‘hyper-executive’ Chief Operating Officer (COO). If the leader does not make time to sit back and think: to contemplate and percolate, who else will? And yet, the demands for efficiency and performance currently reach their nadir in the leader. Sitting and thinking or reading appears to be frowned upon…
  3. Challenging leadership teams: a flip on the first point above. George Prince is cited by Claxton in research on speculation (the exploring of tentative ideas in public) as being capped by management teams that are in any way competitive or judgemental ‘the victim of the win-lose or competitive posture is always speculation, and therefore idea production and problem solving’:  so if the leader does not work on an environment of constructive/ non-competitive challenge, then lack of idea production and problem solving will perpetuate too narrow a leader-led focus and unchallenged decision-making

Structuring how to be creative

What is the relationship between structure and creativity. How does the use of planning and systems, structure and frameworks fuel enhanced levels of creativity?

I suspect there is a greater depth to the relationship than the obvious connections:

  1. The control and structuring of all tasks and ‘to-do’s’, as well as the ordering of thoughts and the use of systems and processes creates free space for creative thinking
  2. This free space for creative thinking can be conscious: as in consciously planned time and space for creative thinking. It can also be unconscious: as in the freeing up of mental space to allow thoughts to percolate in the background
  3. The creation of structure or parameters around the object or subject of the creativity focuses the thinking and creativity. Does it enable fewer variables to disrupt the thinking around the possible options? To concentrate the power in the focus? (is this the opposite of 1. above?)
  4. Does structure reduce the sense of panic? Quell the reactive brain by avoiding the stress of ‘having to be creative’. Removing the pressure of blue sky thinking. Creating the shallow ‘on-ramp’.
  5. Something about answering questions. When framed or structured, do we have something deeper/ more genetic pre-disposed to answer problems
  6. Creates a kind of brain ‘anchor’. Avoids the natural tendency to bounce around from thought to thought, and makes it keep on coming back to the framed and structured challenge

I know a man who uses a flamenco dancing analogy when it comes to using constraints to achieve creativity: where strong control over the dancer’s movements portray the deepest passion and emotions (I added the last bit after a bit of ‘flamenco research’ Dan…)

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