Creativity, Kryptonite to Complexity and Key to the Future

IBM recently released a study on rising complexity in organizations and cited that “creativity” is the key leadership trait that was allowing companies to stand out.  It is what CEO’s find most valuable.

Despite this realization we still have an educational system that guts the creative soul right out of every kindergartner that enters it’s doors.  If we think we are not prepared today, wait 12 years when a graduating class is completely unprepared to operate in this economy.  It’s time to take a stand.  Get off your ass.  Fight for creativity.  Fight for our future.

Part of the creative process is constantly inspecting and adapting to the information unearthed and the forces at work around you.  You better be okay with ambiguity and be prepared to experiment and FAIL regularly.  Ultimately serendipity can be creative rocket fuel and access to it requires deep, meaningful and broad connections with real people and data.  It requires constant iterative scanning based on what you know.  It expects you to be relentless in your pursuits.

Pansies need not apply.  The truly creative are disturbingly disruptive.  They don’t look to be on the top of a market, they look to create entirely new markets even if it means obliterating existing norms.  If you aren’t disrespectful of the status quo on some level, you probably aren’t innovating.

Command and control is out.  Self-Organization is the new standard.  Diversity of ideas and backgrounds is critical.  Open spaces let ideas spread.

IBM asks the following questions…

1. How will you develop the critical capabilities to enhance creativity among your leadership team?

Everyone was born creative.  It’s a matter of unlocking that which has been suppressed.  It starts with a radical change of culture and sense of place.

2. In what ways can you explore, reward and globally integrate diverse and unconventional points of view?

Let people choose their own work and how best solve the problems.  Get the fuck out of their way and let them impress the hell out of you.  You might just be amazed at who steps up.

3. What is your approach to challenge every element of your business model to get the most from currently untapped opportunities?

Connect with your customers and employees.  Ask them what is missing.  Live your product/service and pour your soul into it.  Experiment with wild ideas.

4. How will you leverage new communication styles, technologies and tools, both to lead a new generation of talent and encourage breakthrough thinking?

Stop restricting your employees from communicating digitally.  Get out of lock down mode and get into sharing mode.  Until you can do that, you are already on the death march to being obsolete.

The Future, It’s About People..

We have been talking about concepts in software development for the last few years at Integrum getting back to humanity.  That the separation of goals and values between developers, product owners and users is out of control.  We have executed a grand experiment with Gangplank of restoring fellowship and collaboration back to the workplace.  Tearing down the context of work and ushering in a place of collaboration, connectivity, creation and innovation.

Recently, I was listening to famed economist Richard Florida talk about what he sees in store for us in 2050.  He ends with “But I think by 2050, we’ll have a much more urban, a faster-paced world, a hopefully a more diverse world, and a world that I think at the bottom not only treats the natural resources and natural environment better, but really for the first time in history, really values human creativity and human beings.  And, you know, if we can leave that kind of world for our kids and grandkids, we’ll all be better off.”

I am excited for the day where we celebrate the human spirit and all that it encompasses, seeing every person not as a cog or a stepping stone, but as a person that should be valued for their uniqueness.  I hope that is the world that my grand kids are able to enjoy.

SBR: Linchpin by Seth Godin

Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Seth is back. He really gets it right on this one. This is an excellent book to pair with Richard Florida’s Reset. The world and they way we work in it is radically changing.

This is a good book to help people get ahead during this great changing of industry. One of the better books I read this year. It is easy reading. If you put yourself to it you should be able to finish it in one sitting.

View all my reviews >>

The World is Changing and so is our Economy

We might be in the midst of a recession, but I don’t think we have seen anything yet.  Most of America is not willing to acknowledge a few key concepts.

1. Things won’t bounce back to where they were, expect recovery to be in decades not months.  A new normal has been set.

2. The old economy is dying.  The days of manufacturing things is now a commodity.  That other countries are able to much better and cheaper.

3. Our educational system is broken to prepare America’s youth for the new economy.

I understand that I sound like chicken little and at this point people are laughing at the mention of the sky falling.  I could point to statistics and reputable journalists, but perhaps the best thing to do is show you reality.  Let’s take a look at a great city that at one time was the “model city” for “industrial” America, Detroit.

It literally lays in ruins.  It looks vacant similar to Chernobyl after a nuclear meltdown.  Will all cities be in this position?  No.  Is there a little of Detroit coming to every city?  Yes.  We can no longer stand idle and watch as things decay.  It is time to step up and unite.  Tackle the tough problems we face in educating our youth and training a displaced workforce.  It is time to make creativity and innovation core to our culture and walk through to the other side prosperous and and top.   As you watch these samples of urban decay ask yourself what you can do to change your neighborhood, city and state.  How can you help be part of the solution?

Sunday Review: Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative by Ken Robinson

I have decided to do a dead simple book review every Sunday. Some of this is to just share what I’m reading. Rather than go with some complex rating system a book will either be a thumbs up or a thumbs down. Thumbs up means I highly recommend reading the book. A thumbs down means read something else unless you have free time on your hands. I will then do a one or two sentence at most comment on the book.
thumbs-upOut of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative
Take Away: Inspired by the Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk, I picked this up for reading.  It has great content but Robinson is a much weaker writer than he is orator.

Sunday Book Review: The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band by Motley Crue

Thumbs up means I highly recommend reading the book. A thumbs down means read something else unless you have free time on your hands.

thumbs-upThe Dirt: Confessions of the World's Most Notorious Rock Band

Take Away: Completely decadent and way better written than expected. Why did I wait so long to read this?

Sunday Book Review: This Is Your Brain on Music by Daniel J. Levitin

Thumbs up means I highly recommend reading the book. A thumbs down means read something else unless you have free time on your hands.

thumbs-downThis Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession

Take Away: This book spent a lot of time about the technical aspects of music and of how the brain is wired but did a poor job tying the two together. The writing style felt like a research paper and was not engaging.

Sunday Review: The Invention of Air by Steven Johnson

Thumbs up means I highly recommend reading the book. A thumbs down means read something else unless you have free time on your hands.

thumbs-upThe Invention of Air: A Story Of Science, Faith, Revolution, And The Birth Of America

Take Away: Strong networks of smart people can change the world. Those that change the world have a deep understanding of science, politics and religion.

Creative Economy AZ (My Take)

Based on the Gangplank Futurespective, one thing I promised myself to investigate was Creative Economy AZ.  This is an initiative to raise 1/10th of cent sales tax for the next 20 years to help fund the arts.  I spent a fair amount of time researching what they had online, but felt it was best to meet with those working hard on it before passing judgement.

A few weeks ago I met with Amy Heisler from Metro Phoenix Partnership for Arts and Culture and Sophie O’Keefe-Zelman from First Strategic to talk about the Creative Economy AZ Initiative.  Amy is extremely passionate about arts and culture in Arizona and it shows.   I didn’t learn too much new about the initiative as they do a great job outlining what they are about on their website, from the problem to the solution and on taking action.

I agree with the stated problem.  However, I don’t agree with the solution.  We are in one of the worst economic fiasco’s of this century, both federally and as a state.  With a state budget deficit of several billion and climbing I see little to no chance for this initiative to pass.  Beyond that, I think that it actually puts creatives in a bad light.  It makes creatives look like in the toughest time, that they are the first in line to look for a hand out.

Maybe, I am old fashioned, but this just doesn’t seem right.  I wish that the millions being put into PR, legal fees and lobbying for this initiative were instead being put into efforts to unite the creative class in metro Phoenix.  We are already seeing pockets of people working together to affect radical change in their area of influence.  Imagine if we were to put concentrated effort into getting people to support the arts that are already here and the movement that is already happening?

My Take: Our arts are severely underfunded, but raising taxes to support them in this economic climate is not the right approach.

That said, there is nearly always more than one path to reach an intended destination.