Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Rewiring the Creative Mind

What neuroscience reveals about how to come up with new ideas.
Gregory Burns in Fast Company.

Creativity Workshop - Interested

Hi folks
I intend running another of my Creative Edge Workshops later in the year when I return from running some creativity workshops South Africa. This is just to let any Kiwis out there know and to seek interest. Here are some shots from the last one.

And here's what people have had to say about previous ones I've run.

“Outstanding - one of the best workshops I have been to at any creativity conference anywhere in the world. Practical and life-changing.”

“The workshop gave me a chance to refocus on what creativity is and more paths to get there. The 'team' shared - but did not invade private spaces. We all had different focuses and interests yet the same goals.”

“I now know my creative impulse is valid thanks to conversations, humour, support from all at the retreat, particularly Wayne as guide / facilitator. Self belief gives creativity one heck of a boost.”

“Really good creative and interactive sessions in a safe environment. New relationships, heightened perception and lots of laughs made it a great retreat.”

“The days of the retreat gave me the time to unlock my personal box to look outside the square into the endless possibilities of creative expression. It was a fizzing, bubbling time of creative action prompted by Wayne's enabling guidance.”

“A life changing experience... The retreat showed me how to kick start my creativity! The retreat gave a wonderful opportunity for expanding horizons, breaking down barriers and pushing the creative comfort zone in a supportive environment.”

“For me, this is what I’ve taken from the retreat - lovely friendships., inspiration, joy, freedom, energy, a new way of looking at life, a fresh sense of fun and mischief.”

“Your facilitation; It was ‘just right’ for me. I enjoyed the quotes, background theory, your insight and personal passion that set the scene and kept pulling us back to the purpose through out the weekend. I enjoyed the varied activities that made you think – e.g. draw using only 7 lines… and found the ‘visualisation’ exercises you talked us through very useful for me. I liked the balance with freedom to choose and no requirements to perform or share if you didn’t want to (we’re perverse beings. – when you don’t have to you usually do!)”

“I found the retreat fun and relaxing and I feel that myself imposed pressure to be creative has gone. I am continuing to feel calm, relaxed and more efficient in all aspects of my life. I have a real feeling of well-being that I haven’t had for a while”

"Wayne did a great job of creating a supportive space for the creative process and then did a great job of not getting in the way of it! I had great fun playing with my creativity and the creativity of others. Everyone should do this!"

“A fun and fascinating weekend conducted by Wayne which inspired me to put some creativity back into my life.”

“I think it was a combination of your hands-off approach combined with creative advice or ideas offered when requested, the stimulation of interacting with specific individuals in the group, and the creative atmosphere generated by the group as a whole that caused the magic to happen. The bubbling, buzzing feeling of being part of a group of people all listening to their creative sides at once has to be experienced to be believed!”

“Wow - creativity where I thought there was none and lots of fun. Thanks.”

If you are interested drop me an email to wayne@future-edge.co.nz and I'll send you some more information.

Monday, August 30, 2010

If you're the boss, start killing ideas.

Robert Sutton in the Harvard Business Review on what to do with ideas.

Six Keys to Being Excellent at Anything

Tony Schwartz in the Harvard Business Review challenges some commonly held myths around excellence.

Creativity in South Africa

In October I travel back to South Africa to deliver some workshops at the 5th Annual Creativity Conference for Educators and the 16th International Creativity Conference.
Its a real treat to be among some of the best creative minds on the planet.
This time I am also running a one day workshop after the conference, organised by a colleague in South Africa, Francois Coetzee. This is a new workshop and I am very excited about it.

I have called it IMAGINATION FIRST after the title of a book that had a great influence on my thinking. The authors are Eric Liu and Scott Noppe-Brandon.

Each participant will be getting a copy of my new workbook The Creative Edge Workshop [available from http://www.publishme.co.nz/shop/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=587 ]

The programme is a one day interactive exploration of imagination, creativity and innovation .

Imagination might be defined as the capacity to conceive what is not; creativity as applied iumagination and innovation, novel and useful creativity.
The workshop is based around some underlying assumptions:

“Imagination comes first. It must. Until we have the emotional and intellectual capacity to conceive of what does not yet exist, there is nothing toward which we are to direct our will and resources”
Eric Liu and Scott Noppe-Brandon

Without imagination there can be no creativity, no innovation.

“The next ten years will require people to think and work across boundaries into new zones that are totally different from their areas of expertise . They will not only have to cross those boundaries, but they will also have to identify opportunities and make connections between them.”
Clement Monk Designer

“Many engineering / scientific deadlocks have been broken by people who are not engineers / scientists at all. This is because perspective is more important than IQ. The ability to make big leaps of thought is a common denominator among the originators of breakthrough ideas. Usually this ability resides in people with very wide backgrounds, multidisciplinary minds, and a broad spectrum of experiences.”
Nicholas Negroponte MIT

Insanity is doing the same things over and over hoping the results will be different. If you want to different results you have to think different and do different. You become more imaginative by being more imaginative! You become more creative by being more creative! You come more innovative by being more innovative!

This workshop will help you do that.

As a participant you will:

• identify the strengths and weaknesses of your creative character
• identify and practice ways of growing your creative character
• identify and practice the six habits of creative people
• identify which habits are supporting your creativity and plan to enhance them
• identify which habits are undermining your creativity and develop strategies for creating better ones
• apply a range of tools and techniques that will improve your ability to imagine, create and be more innovative
• be challenged
• have fun [compulsory!!]

If you would like a similar workshop then please let me know.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Stalemate - Mate!

This from my Aussie colleagues and friends in the Whole Brain Thinking Network www.thinkingnetwork.com.au

In Australia we have a stalemate - or maybe we should call it a draw - with the results of the General Election held last weekend. Neither of the two major parties have a big enough majority to create the new Government, so there's lots of negotiation going on with the independents, who hold the balance of power.

It's hard to believe that there is no alternative solution. Things like this happen every day in business of course. How are those issues resolved? What happens if there is a draw in the Boardroom?

Unfortunately, as with the political scene, the one with the most power often comes out on top. And power can come in many forms: a person's position, money, backing, followers or sometimes even popular opinion. The real problem with power is that it assumes that someone is 'right' and therefore the other side is 'wrong'. Our election result at this stage shows that the public think each side is equally right - and therefore of course equally wrong!

What would happen if we could replace power and black and white opinions with creative and critical thinking that focused on a new way of working? One of the independents suggested something similar yesterday and was considered immediately labelled naïve by both parties and political commentators! Creative thinkers in business are often labelled naïve by the 'old hands' who love the status quo.

The word 'immediate' lives comfortably with the word 'power'. Powerful people want immediate results. Creative thinkers want to search, enquire and explore; characteristics which are often considered wasteful by poor leaders.

Yet the evidence tells a different story. Where creativity has been given a chance the results speak for themselves. Massive and often unbelievable reductions in delivery times, quality improvement, shorter processing times and improved customer satisfaction have resulted from the marriage of creative and critical thinkers and a good supply of the best techniques and tools of the trade - the thinking trade.

Our starting point has always been - and will continue to be - an understanding of the thinking preferences of those involved. To do this we use the Neethling Brain Instrument (NBI). The results are shared and explained with the group and a much better understanding of each others preferred thinking processes gives rise to better use of resources and a willingness to explore new ways of thinking and working.

Who do you know that might be living in stalemate? Is it happening at work? Are some of your clients 'stuck' with a problem? Is there a battle with parents and children trying to determine the 'right' way forward?

If there is a genuine will to improve things, the NBI can help in all these situations by forming a sound basis for understanding each other and moving forward with creative ideas with critical assessment.

Maybe it could even work with politicians!

Organisational Creativity Enablers

I - that's me in the picture - wrote this as part of a masters research project. It is as relevant now as when it was first written - maybe even more so.

More than just a buzzword, creativity is becoming acknowledged as a critical factor in organisational success. Creativity in organisations might be defined as the process by which new ideas that make innovation possible, are developed. Talk to any organisational leader and sooner or later the words ‘creativity’ and ‘innovation’ will come up. But for many, these terms are simply buzz words. Few truly know how to foster creativity and innovation in their workplace. And even fewer actually do it. My research identified the following as the top ten critical organisational creativity success factors. They are in ascending priority order as identified by the survey respondents. The quotes are taken directly from the survey responses.

10. Appropriate reward.

“It’s money that brings me to work but it’s not money that gets the best work out of me.” Rewards do matter but they must be appropriate and that requires an understanding of what pushes each individuals buttons.

9. Clear organisational goals.

Agreed by the majority but with some interesting exceptions as expressed by this response. ““My department has done all the visioning stuff – and we have goals for everything – but the reality is that if I get excited about something I will do the work I have to do as quick as I can so I can get onto the exciting stuff. I still try to meet my goals but if I wasn’t able to do some of this other stuff it would probably drive me nuts. Isn’t most work boring?” There is a growing message that being able to act rapidly, to seize new opportunities as they emerge and to create new knowledge from previously unanticipated needs are becoming more important than staying focused and marching in the same direction.

8. Positive staff motivation

Motivated staff are essential to having a creative organisation. Most took this as a given – no motivation – no creativity. Some described it as a cycle as expressed in the following: “If I am motivated I will be more creative but the reverse is also true. I have seen people get into upward and downward spirals and it can be catching.” Positive staff motivation enhances organisational creativity.

7. Committed leadership

“While the truly inspired and creative may break through the barriers to success, an environment that enhances organisational creativity may reap benefits from many surprising sources – the quiet, the reluctant, the plodders – not just the Einsteins. The leaders role is to remove the barriers.” Leadership that removes barriers enhances organisational creativity.

6 Personal authority to initiate change / individual empowerment

Respondents talked about how much freedom and authority they had to initiate change – some gave it to themselves, others waited for it to be given. Many spoke of the anxiety that at times accompanies empowerment. Ideally empowerment of people results in increased initiative, involvement, enthusiasm, innovation and speed but also has a cost in terms of increased anxiety and stress levels.

5 Supportive organisational structure

Described by one respondent as “an environment where problems are addressed without blaming or scapegoating” supportive organisational structure was described by others as having decentralised authority, flexibility and adaptability. The terms ‘organic versus mechanistic’ were used by some respondents with an organic structure being the preferred to enhance organisational creativity.

4. Open communication and information sharing

“For me one of the barriers is an environment where people undermine each other, information is not shared and there is no credit given for creativity.” And from another respondent; “It’s essential to have access to information – creativity is often spurred on by hitchhiking on new ideas that flow past the alert mind – often converting them to a new situation or application.”
Open communication of organisational changes, decisions and policies; opportunities to voice concerns, understandings and ideas; and the feeling of ‘being heard’ all enhance organisational creativity.

3. Space / resources to pursue ideas

This priority was closely linked to time but also included the physical space required to ‘trial’ new ideas and the finance to fund such a pursuit.
“I am at my creative best when I can balance the need for access to people and resources with time for me. I do my best thinking when I am jogging in the morning but then I need people to test my ideas against – and sometimes that is hard.”

An environment that was conducive to creativity was also mentioned by some with one commenting that “having appropriate music, art work and ‘creative stuff’ around gets my creative juices going but I don’t think my tastes would appeal to all. I’m not sure how you get agreement on that sort of thing.”
Appropriate space and resources enhances organisational creativity.

2. Staff competence

Competence of staff was highlighted as the second most important factor in enhancing organisational creativity. When questioned further about this respondents talked about a range of issues perhaps best summarised by this comment: “If I know I can rely on my staff, that they are technically competent, then I am able to push the boundaries of their technical competence into areas of the unknown of the new – to come up with creative and innovative ideas.” A contrary view was offered by some. “Just because someone is technically competent doesn’t mean that they are capable of producing new and creative ideas. Some people are simply not competent or confident to do so”.

From the survey responses there appears to be agreement that competent staff are important to organisational creativity but disagreement over the types of competencies required.

. . . a drum roll please . . . ! The single biggest enabler to enhancing organisational creativity is . . . .

1. Time

More respondents raised the issue of time as the most important factor in enhancing organisational creativity than any other factor. The following comment was typical of a number of responses. “Just having uninterrupted time would do it for me. It’s so rare that I make space and time in my day to just think. I know that when I do, it works really well for me and I get a lot more satisfaction from my work. It remains a real challenge for me.”

This is supported by a study conducted by Teresa Amabile [Fast Company Bill Breen Issue 89 Dec 2004] the results of which indicated that contrary to the belief that people often thought they were more creative under deadline pressure the opposite was, in fact, the case – people were the least creative when they were fighting the clock. It seems that time pressure stifles creativity because people are unable to deeply engage with a problem. Creativity requires an incubation period; people need time to soak in a problem and let the ideas bubble up.

Organisational creativity requires time!!

The scary bit!

The majority of people surveyed had little difficulty in identifying the factors they regarded as necessary to enhance organisational creativity but very few said that they worked in an organisation that actually implemented them.
“I personally feel ‘congested’ to the point where dreaming up something new and innovative is totally unappealing, because it will just add to an already overloaded schedule. I do recall feeling differently and have demonstrated an ability to make a silk purse out of a sows ear in the past. But I do seem to have passed over the creative climax and am trying not to slip down the other side. I suspect this sentiment is not uncommon.”

Sadly, I suspect the comment above is right.

Let me finish this article with some quotes from my research – they are offered as thought starters.

“Uncreative people in the organisation need to gently placed out of the way of the creatives – at all levels!”

“The environment has to be safe enough to make mistakes in – not repeatedly – but it is difficult to learn without making some mistakes.”

“Dead and boring leaders create dead and boring organisations.”

So, if creativity is important to you and your organisation's future you
need to make time for it before you begin to wonder how you got this far

Observations from a Creativity Workshop

These were observations made at the beginning of a recent creativity workshop that I facilitated. Used with permission.
"I am in a large room surrounded by the efforts of creative people – art, craft, musical instruments, books. A discussion is in full swing. There are several groups of people. In the group I am observing there are two engineers, a coffee shop manager, an artist, a community worker and a manger of a service business. They are part of a creativity workshop. They have been on ‘a poster walk’ to find a quote about creativity that attracts their attention. This is the beginning of a one day creativity workshop facilitated by Wayne Morris.
One of the engineers chose an Albert Einstein quote: “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift.” He explained that engineering needed both but that it was the rational mind that was rewarded. The other engineer chose a quote by Edward de Bono: “There is no doubt that creativity is the most important human resource of all. Without creativity, there would be no progress, and we would be forever repeating the same patterns.” He went on to explain that everything new, every new development, came from the mind of a creative person and then went on to wonder why creativity is so poorly supported in our education system given its importance to our future. The coffee shop manager put forward a strong case for her selection – a quote from Robert Fritz: “The one fundamental choice – to be the predominant creative force in your life – is a foundation for the entire orientation of the creative.” She argued that we each have a responsibility for ‘creating’ our own lives and without that we become victims of other people’s decisions. It was a passionate argument peppered with her own experiences. The artist favoured Picasso who said “I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it.’ She explained that an artist, perhaps any creative person is always on the edge, pushing the boundaries of their competence and not always succeeding which led to a quick discussion on the role of failure in creativity. The manager interrupted with a story from his experience around failure and contributed a quote from Margaret Wheatley: “The things we fear most in organizations -- fluctuations, disturbances, imbalances -- are the primary sources of creativity.” He explained that in his experience people sometimes had to be challenged to go beyond their comfort zones to get the creative juices flowing. Most nodded in agreement. The final quote was offered by the community worker. He supported one offered previously by reading his de Bono quote: “In today’s world creativity is fundamentally important for our personal, social, economic and cultural well-being. The most important developments in civilization have come about through the creative process.”
The animated discussions – this was just one of 3 groups - continued for several minutes until Morris called for the groups attention. “We have a day together to create”, he said, “so lets take some time to look at your creative journey – where it has come from, where is it now and more importantly, where do you want it to go?” I left thinking that I will do the next workshop. I need more life in my creativity and judging by the excitement in the room this may well be the place to find it."

Temporarily unplugged: A good idea to foster creativity?

This from Shelley Carson in the Huffington Post:

Forget shares: why not invest in your own creative capital?

Forget about investing in shares, property or managed funds for a moment. How about investing in your own creative capital?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

I couldn't resist!!

The Leningrad Cowboys and the Red Army Choir

Problems or opportunities?

via Aland Black http://www.cre8ng.com/
Problems are Opportunities...sometimes believing that can help you deal with them. Here's another point of view about just accepting that problems happen, that's life. Larry Winget (consultant/speaker who does not soft soap anything)

Conceptual design in two minutes

Here's a link to a nice little video from Nokia explaining the value of brainstorming and sketching.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Work hard, but play harder.

Life is serious. Work is serious. Business is serious. Many business leaders and managers believe the more serious the work atmosphere, the better results will be produced. Do you share this belief? Click the link.

Holistic Creativity

Liane Gabora offers a new take on creativity.

Po Bronson on creativity and other things

There are few more creative writers than the San Francisco-based Po Bronson. The author of four best-selling non-fiction books, two novels, a book of short stories and many articles for Newsweek, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, Bronson’s work has been translated into 19 different languages and his 2005 bestselling What Should I Do With My Life, social commentary about the meaning of work and identity was on the New York Times bestselling list for 10 months. His take on creativity can be found here.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Reclaiming the imagination

Article from the New York Times

de Bono: Climate change or poor thinking?

"The biggest challenge facing the world is not climate change but poor thinking", states management guru Edward de Bono. It’s a bold statement, but one he passionately believes in.
Read more from this People Management article:

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Creative On-line Marketing


David Rockwell's Imagination Playground

David Rockwell stumbled upon his idea for a new kind of public playground after ordering a fancy art desk for his two children. "It had all these compartments, and I was very excited about it," the designer explains. "When I got home, the kids were in the hall in the cardboard box with the foam pellets. They had been playing there all day."

Friday, August 6, 2010

Arts at the Centre

The link to this presentation was provided by Jonathan Milne of the Learning Connexion. Jonathan and the Learning Connexion do put the arts at the centre - of everything. www.tlc.ac.nz

It is a presentation done by Bob and Michele Root-Bernstein for the UNESCO Second World Conference on Arts Education held in Seoul.


From their introduction:

So, here’s our argument: the arts are at the center of creative imagination
and should be at the center of any attempt to educate for creativity. We will
support this by demonstrating four theses that have formed the backbone of
much of our research:
1) arts and crafts underpin innovation in science and technology;
2) scientists can invent new arts and artists can discover new sciences
3) arts and crafts correlate with creativity in all disciplines, from literature
to business; and
4) they do so because they involve mastery of creative process and its
cognitive “tools for thinking.”

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Drawing on the right side of the brain

Here is a celebration with and for Dr Betty Edwards who has influenced many creative people with her books including Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain and Drawing on the Artist Within. From a great blog by Say Keng LEE and Dilip Mukerjea.

Seven reasons not to send your kid to college.

Is investing in a college education money wasted? James Altucher, managing director of Formula Capital, says it is. In this video interview, Altucher argues that there are far better ways to put your money to work to benefit your kids. Controversial? You bet, but his ideas are certainly food for thought.

The College Drop-Out Hall of fame

Why do lots of creative people feature?