The world has never moved this quickly, yet it will never again move this slowly.  Exposure to unknowns will amplify. When situations are unfamiliar it may be best to approach them as curious mysteries, rather than attempt to solve them as puzzles based on a logic that worked before. Think about first principles, encourages Peter Thiel, author of Zero to One, rather than formulas. That’s how we find value in unexpected places. Every time we create something fresh and strange, we go from a ‘Zero’ to a ‘One’. The more we create, the more we thrive. But are we too tempted to copy, in place of invent?

Creativity is by its very nature disturbing, and yet humans are designed for creating and ‘making meaning’. We are the only animals that can invent new things and better ways of making them. The more we compete through ‘match and beat’, the less we gain. In business we call this the race to the bottom, where products become commoditized. Machines already perform most repetitive, monotonous and dangerous tasks much better than humans. They are set to take on a lot more. Machines may well free us humans up for safer, interesting and more purposeful work. It’s likely however that we’ve fallen out of touch – and may need to work quite hard at rediscovering and refining a human contribution. Both at school and at work, we are conditioned into applying logic, solving puzzles, finding the answer. We are less skilled in generating possibilities, ‘seeing’ the possible magic, not easily seen, or seen only by few. A formula-culture has also taken root. We look for the formula that is easy to apply, and sure to bring success.

If you are copying the most successful companies you can think of, you are not learning from them, says Thiel. Shane Parrish, from Farnam Street Blog, reinforces the same message with his statement: “There simply is no formula for success. Giving up that notion might be the most helpful thing you can do today.” It is time to step out of the race to the bottom, as humans, as businesses, to move beyond the relentless clamber for competitive advantage and growth at all costs, suited and glamorized on countless cover pages of business magazines across the globe. We can get better at exploring that magic we bring as humans – hard to define, hard to measure, hard to copy – and set it within a frame that has more meaning for us, one we can call generative rather than extractive.

By creating new technologies, humans can rewrite the plan of the world.

#CREATIVITY

  • Creativity is connecting things. “Technologies connecting to social movements. Industries converging. Bringing together disparate groups into a more powerful whole. Connecting the right message to the right medium. This is what great innovators have done for all time.”
  • We can be prosumers or makers. We can do more than consume what others make. In this way we can shape our own worlds and create more meaning in them.
  • Creativity by it’s nature ‘disturbs’. Creativity is risky. The system around you will almost always seek the path of less change. But creativity and innovation is everyone’s business. So develop and flex your muscles to effect change. Improve your skills in recognizing good ideas, getting them heard, and getting them to stick.
  • Growth mindsets are key enablers for the future. Creativity starts with the individual. We must provoke, unwrap and explore the way we understand the world, and discover the individual contribution we make. Growth mindsets are potentially one of the biggest enablers of better futures.

“We do not see the world the way it is, we see the world according to our instruments.” – Immanuel Kant.

#INNOVATION #PURPOSE

  • Innovation is a team effort. The hero innovator is a myth. There are many diverse contributions to game changing outputs. Once we recognize, appreciate and truly enable these different inputs, we move closer to ‘innovate-as-usual’.
  • Innovation can be purposeful. Purpose brings focus and directs attention and action. It engages humans. It keeps them motivated and flexibly persistent. It also solves important problems, of which we have many.
  • Purpose should be personal. Poke awareness of your purpose and think about how it links to the impact of the work you do and the work of your business or larger working context. Work to iron out what does not fit, even if this takes a long time.

“The world has an infinite supply of interesting and profitable problems, it also has in infinite supply of significant problems. I would love for us to focus on the latter.” – Andrew Ng

#MAKEITCOUNT

Traditional employee engagement measures will not secure the game changing outputs needed for a Fourth Industrial Revolution future. More money, more holiday, more check-ins, more projects, better food and fancier offices will not assist with the shift from red to blue oceans, to better work and to better working futures for all. So what will?

  • Having a true north and living by it will make a difference. It could even be massively transformative. Some organisations outstrip the performance of more traditional, slow-moving peers. These organisations go beyond competing to creating. Whilst leveraging exponential technologies can be key to success, exponential organisations have one thing in common, they acknowledge and live by their “Massive Transformative Purpose”.
  • Valuing and enabling FLOW will make a difference. We need people in Flow at work, leveraging this deeply human desire to apply, to stretch ourselves and to create.
  • Leaders will make a difference. Our greatest responsibility and challenge is to champion, enable and example creative, purposeful work.
  • Bringing the human back to work will make a difference.

 

Tried of the same old workplace tools and methods? Try something new. Like the Game Changer Index or Lego Serious Play or Playing Lean.

“Soon is not as good as now.” – Seth Godin

Copy of #creativity#innovation#purpose

#creativity#innovation#purpose

  • We can be prosumers or makers – we do not have to be just consumers of what others make. In this way we can shape our own worlds.
  • Creativity starts with the individual, and growth mindsets are key enablers for the future. We must provoke, unwrap and explore the way we understand the world, and discover the individual contribution we make.

“We do not see the world the way it is, we see the world according to our instruments.” – Immanuel Kant.

  • Traditional employee engagement measures will not secure the game changing outputs needed for a Fourth Industrial Revolution future. Creativity will become a business essential. We need people in Flow at work, creating amazing things to make the shift from ‘compete’ to create, from Red to Blue Ocean.
  • Innovation is a team effort. The hero innovator is a myth. There are many diverse contributions to game changing outputs. Once we recognize, appreciate and truly enable these different inputs, we move closer to an innovation-as-usual. We also build resilience through positive, appreciative and strengths-based approaches in our workplaces.
  • Innovation can and should have purpose. Purpose brings focus and directs attention and action. It engages humans. It keeps them motivated and flexibly persistent. Making money on its own is not a purpose. That is a result. Each person should reflect on and poke awareness of their impact and purpose, within the larger scheme of what’s being done at work.

“The world has an infinite supply of interesting and profitable problems, it also has in infinite supply of significant problems. I would love for us to focus on the latter.” – Andrew Ng

  • Purpose can be massively transformative. Some organisations outstrip the performance of more traditional, slow-moving peers. These organisations go beyond competing to creating. Whilst leveragingexponential technologies can be key to success, exponential organisations have one thing in common, they acknowledge their “Massive Transformative Purpose”.
  • As leaders, our great responsibility and challenge is to champion, enable and example creative, purposeful work. Creative cultures are aligned through a golden thread of purpose, and led by inspirational role models.
  • Creativity and innovation can no longer be the preserve of the elite or of genius talent. But you need strong muscles to effect meaningful change. Flex your muscles and build them. Invest in them. Disrupt yourself and keep learning. The system around you will almost always seek the path of less change. Creativity is by its very nature disturbing. Creativity is risky. Take novel opportunities to champion originality within your system, improve how you recognize and speak up about new ideas, and get them to stick.

“Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead.

 

Tried of the same old workplace tools and methods for discovering more about yourself and the future direction of your business? We use tools such as Lego Serious Play and The Game Changer index to open the horizons on any business or personal challenge.

Contact us.

Unleashing the big c

I recently took part in a Connectle on Innovation Mindsets. The panel of speakers was impressive and inspiring. Take Ira Munn from Ierospace. Ira is changing the world, one Drop at a time. Later this year he will launch The Drop, a 3D-printed, energy-efficient, electric vehicle kit made from up-cycled local plastic, like the plastic clogging up our oceans. Making the body of each Drop with recycled PET plastic and a hardener additive reduces the amount of energy consumption and the amount of carbon burn in the manufacturing process. The Drop can be charged at charging stations and standard household outlets. Due to the weight of the vehicle and new technology, it has incredible range. We have the ability to go from vision to vehicle in months not years thanks to 3D printing, says Ira. This is big C – breakthrough creativity.

Adaptation that is creative, rather than reactive, leads us to a better place in the future. Mostly, in our organsiations, we are doing the little c – the incremental builds and innovations, the adjacencies. So how do we get to big C?

People who change the ways things get done start somewhere. They build their skills like a muscle. And we have tools at our disposal to do this. I use one such tool, Lego Serious Play, to open minds and unleash creativity with groups. We get participants to play with Lego, and to model their ideas. First we chat through creativity, and what makes a creative organization. And that often prompts a comment about how hard it can be to push breakthrough ideas through large, legacy organisations and systems. So this post shares thoughts on unleashing the big C.

Anyone can learn to be an original

Creativity is an expression of our uniqueness. To be creative is to be vulnerable. Creativity is also, by its very nature, disturbing. So first, acknowledging these feelings in yourself, and in those around you, is a good start. Added to that, stop thinking that the most successful entrepreneurs (inside and outside of organisations) are creative geniuses who stumbled across that ‘one big idea’. Adam Grant presents the research on this – most of these successful people are relatively ordinary people with original ideas, and perhaps surprisingly, they are taking very calculated risks. He calls them Originals, and whether at home or at work, he believes that all of us can learn to be Originals. Anyone can learn to recognise a good idea, to speak up without getting silenced, and to get new ideas to stick. Think about building a muscle. Managerial bias (evaluating the outliers OUT), confirmation bias (looking for evidence to prove you are right), and too much deep knowledge in one area can do you a disservice. Some breadth and some depth of knowledge is most helpful, says Grant. Think too about kissing a lot of frogs – and by that we mean coming up with sheer numbers of ideas, because one will stick at the right time in the right place. Take feedback from creative peers, not necessarily your evaluative management team as a first point of call. You could also do well to look out for those people who have passion for ideas as well as the execution of them.

Do new things – the seven dimensions of creativity

Doing new things, like playing an instrument or traveling to a new place, is good for your creativity. Spend time with people who are different to you. This stretches awareness, of self and of the world. It also induces a certain humility into your worldview, because over time you become aware of what you do not know. Or put another way, you become aware of just how much there is to know. Awareness is one of the seven dimensions of creativity according to Nick Heap. The others are listed here:

  • Play, which produces new insight and action, and demands the ability to suspend judgement and allow new ideas and experiences to connect and form. It is one of the reasons I love to work with Lego.
  • Flexible Persistence, because anything new challenges what is established, and you need to be flexible and persistent to ensure your ideas do not fail prematurely. You need to take others with you, influencing them and understanding ‘what’s in it for them’, so that you can harness organizational energy in pursuit of success.
  • Purpose. People show up for things that are bigger than just themselves. What’s the purpose behind what you are doing? Is it communicated and understood?
  • Attention. New ideas need positive attention, attention nourishes creativity. Yet new ideas in their essence may not fit, they disturb, and so often we do not give them attention. Think about how you might reward for innovative ‘tries’ in your context.
  • Inspiration. What is inspirational in your context? How do you inspire as a leader?
  • Power – a strange dimension, one might think. Heap defines this as the ability to make good things happen. It is about taking charge of our own destiny and creating new realities, rather than playing what John Sanei calls the victim, waiting on what other people decide.

“No organisation can be creative unless it has lots of powerful people who can be models for others. You can learn to be more powerful.” – Nick Heap

Co-consulting to feed creativity, and other final tips

Encourage employees to support each other, using a co-consulting approach. This gives attention to each other and to new ideas, which feeds the creative process. Co-consulting is where one person talks about and explores an issue while the other listens, encourages, asks questions and challenges assumptions. Relax the rules so that people can play a little, just make the outcomes clear. Commit to building your influencing skills, so you are the change maker not the victim of a system that paralyses you. Try to think broadly and openly, and embellish your ability to do this by doing new things with new people. Lastly, search for the truth, in the context of your true north.

“We have the ability to come together, where creators can become consumers. We can do things differently, one drop at a time.” – Ira Munn

 

 

Many organisations remain unclear about their purpose. When asked, Why does your organisation exist? they answer: ‘to make money’. Money is essential, but making money is not a purpose.

Read the inspirational classic from psychiatrist Viktor Frankl: Man’s Search for Meaning. Frankl practiced logotherapy, from the Greek word logos (‘meaning’), asserting that our primary drive in life is not pleasure, as Freud maintained, but the discovery and pursuit of what we personally find meaningful. Newer kids on the block are talking the same language. Watch Simon Sinek’s TED Talk How great leaders inspire action, by starting with Why.

A reason for existing is important to people. A reason for existing is also important for organisations. The powerful work on the exponential organisation defines a new (hugely successful) breed of organisation, “one whose impact (or output) is disproportionately large — at least 10x larger — compared to its peers because of the use of new organizational techniques that leverage accelerating technologies”. Exponential organisations all have this in common – they embrace a Massive Transformation Purpose (MTP).

“The more we organize around massive transformative purpose, the harder we’ll work, the more dedicated we’ll be, the faster we can solve big problems—and maybe most importantly, the more fulfilled we’ll feel about the work we do.”

Peter Diamandis, Singularity University.

Perhaps our Why’s are not more present and lived because we are not clear on them – as individuals or as organisations.  How can we get more clarity?

Simon Sinek describes your ‘why’ as the reason you get up in the morning. Everyone has one and knowing it helps you to make better choices at work and at home.  As Sinek says, people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. Your personal WHY — the purpose, cause, or belief that inspires everything you do.

I also like the process traced out by Peter Diamandis of Singularity University to create your Massive Transformative Purpose.

Ask yourself the question: Who do I want to create a lasting and positive impact for? Identify the problem you want to solve by writing down 3 items that ignite something in you. Now score each item against these questions, with a rating of 1 for little difference, to 10  for a very big difference:

  • At the end of your life, if you had made a significant dent in this area, how proud would you feel?
  • Given the resources you have today, what level of impact could you make in the next 3 years if you solved this problem?
  • Given the resources you expect to have in 10 years, what level of impact could you make in a 3-year period?
  • How well do I understand the problem?
  • How emotionally charged (excited or riled up) am I about this?
  • Will this problem get solved with or without you involved?

Add up your scores for each item. What gets the highest score? Focus on that item.

Here are some examples of MTP’s:

Patagonia: We’re in business to save our home planet.

Virgin Galactic: “We are creating a Spaceline for Earth with the goal of democratizing access to space for the benefit of life on earth.”

X Prize Foundation: “Bring about radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity.”

TED: “Ideas worth spreading.”

Tesla: “Accelerate the transition to sustainable transportation.”

There’s a secret to motivating individuals and teams to do great things: it is purpose.

What if organisations of the future leveraged abundance, balanced with a fundamental respect for our natural systems?

Could it start with a large and more meaningful purpose in your organisation?

 

 

 

 

“If you’ve always done it that way, it’s probably wrong.”  

– Charles Kettering, holder of 186 patents.

We tend to concentrate on things we already know, and time and time again, we fail to take into consideration what we don’t know. This focus on the familiar has costs. It was Nassim Taleb in his book Black Swan who pointed out that banks and firms are vulnerable to rare and unpredictable events called “Black Swan” events, that incurred losses beyond those predicted by their financial models. As humans, we have a tendency to find simplistic explanations for these events retrospectively. Taleb is not advocating that we attempt to predict Black Swan events, but rather that we should build a robustness in the face of those negative ones, and that we should exploit the positive ones that occur too.

In thinking about his ideas, what if we could to do more of this in our workplaces?

  • Unlock the ideas and contributions of more than just the usual suspects like those in positions of leadership, those in traditionally defined and recognized professions, or those who shout the loudest
  • Expect and encourage more than one right answer in solving complex challenges – rather than assuming that a right answer already exists
  • Make ‘thinking deeply’ about new answers welcome and not viewed as wasting time (this thinking has been described as a desirable form of procrastination at work, and was referenced by a panel on ‘Creativity as a business resource’ at the recent Leaderex 2017 conference in JHB)
  • Make it possible for your employees to find and create connections between ideas, visions, offerings, challenges, so that we build new visions in place of over-relying on what worked in the past
  • Get commitment to making it happen – not through sharing a vision, but through engaging people in the process of thinking deeply about, constructing and connecting all the possible ways of doing things.

So how do we closing the knowing-doing gap? There are practices and methods to assist.

Facilitated sessions using Lego, for example, can be used to set constructive, participatory, insight-rich working grounds. A facilitated LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® session can open access to new ideas, locate challenges, create visions and ways forward, and secure stronger commitment to making things happen. By ensuring everyone participates and contributes, time spent together can be more efficient and productive. Here is a bank of case studies using Lego: http://seriousplaypro.com/category/serious-play-case-studies/

There is also a method to form teams that respect, encourage and develop a diversity of game changing contribution. I speak widely already about the GCIndex and its applications so I am not devoting more time to it here.

The reality is, in current workplaces, long-term business success is not down to one person with one idea, nor is creativity the job of one department. There are many new ways of doing, methods, tools, assessments. We just need to provoke our appetite to try some of them out. Don’t we? #mindset

blackswanshadow

By Gaylin Jee

deep-work

Absorb state is one of 7 ways to boost your creativity. But what is absorb state?

When you are in absorb state, you spend time only consuming information. You are not creating or delivering any output. The concept is also referred to as ‘batching’. It replaces what Linda Stone calls ‘continuous partial attention’, where your attention is diluted by multitasking and disruptions.

Cal Newport, author of Deep Work: Rules for focussed success in a distracted world states that a clear rule forbidding any distraction will free you. He experimented with hard focus where he chunked all work into blocks of 30 minutes. Leaving one task to spin off an email requesting information, or to set up a meeting, would be breaking that block of deep focus. If that did happen, your aim would be to then allocate your focus to that new block of work, again, for 30 minutes. For example, if you slipped out of your absorb sate to check emails, the approach would dictate that you then harness the next 30 minutes to work only with emails, and not let your attention be diverted to any other task. Newports experiments showed that deep work requires some planning ahead to ensure the materials and information needed for focused blocks of work are at hand.

Batching, as we might expect, is hard. Disruption has become the order of the day. Multi-tasking is hailed a supposed superskill in a busy world. Yet Newport discovered that his efficiency increased in terms of small task completion, and the overall quality of his work improved. He also reports experiencing more FLOW state than he can remember for a very long time.

‘Deep work provides the sense of true fulfillment that comes from craftsmanship. In short, deep work is like a super power in our increasingly competitive twenty-first century economy.’

Ready to try Deep Work, a new superpower for the 21st Century?