Just Seven Things

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

Archive for the tag “Creativity”

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…)

“Artistry Unleashed: Pursuing Great Performance in Work and Life” – quotes

Quotes from panel session held at Savoy hotel, London, 29/3/11.
Dr. Hilary Austen, Adjunct Professor, Rotman School of Management, U of Toronto and Author, Artistry Unleashed: A Guide to Pursuing Great Performance in Work and Life (Rotman/UToronto Press, 2010)

Tyler Brulé, Editor-in-Chief, Monocle

Prof. Roger Martin, Dean, Rotman School of Management, U of Toronto; Author, The Responsibility Virus, The Opposable Mind, The Design of Business and Fixing the Game; Director, Thomson Reuters, Research in Motion

Tom Hulme, Design Director, IDEO

Daniel Weil, Partner, Pentagram

Quotes (with my favourites in bold)

Artists take on a wicked problem with glee

It is the qualitative experience that enables the right diagnostic to be done

Measurement is not everything when compared to a qualitative relative comparison

Where is the room for serendipity?

Entrepreneurship is the most creative profession

Tell stories to create value alignment in humans by showing the value objective

Identity is a qualitative experience of self

Where is qualitative taught (other than architecture?)

Vision is a set of principles that allow you to take steps that otherwise
you wouldn’t

In arts, interpretation is key. There is none of this in science. Interpretation should be taught: the meaning for its creator and its meaning for you

Social media is a great way for enabling our children to be creative (network influencing/ leadership/ relationship interpretation)

Learn more efficiently than everyone else from failure

There is a new belief in craft

Everybody should be an artist for 15 minutes

Real experience has risk and shouldn’t be avoided via the lobotomizing act of passive media consumption

Excellence in seeking talent and nurturing talent = future of corporations

Take away = you need to take charge of your own knowledge
– experiential
– conceptual (awareness of your own frameworks and perspectives)
– directional (own ideals and hopes)

Contradiction is a dynamic relationship which enables you to define the processes that have led you to your conflict

Having a process unlocks creativity as it gives you bounds

Because it’s easier to communicate quantitative information, this is the reason we have a leaning against qualitative in education and corporations

How do you overcome the barrier of ‘you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it’? – if you can’t measure it, it probably is one of the most important things for your business eg. attachment of readers to a magazine – what is the feeling in their hearts?

As soon as you measure it, you affect it. Employee satisfaction is a good example?

There is a lot of stuff off-balance sheet of the company that is incredibly important for the future success

How can we learn ‘beyond success’? How do we stop ourselves failing because of focusing on the development of mastery vs. the development of new ideas

Let the things that work be moments that pass by.

Find the edge of what is possible, rather than looking to win the medal.

We’ve overly-charged successful outcomes with too much importance

Forgetting is an important part of creativity. A quantifying mind doesn’t want to forget.

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