Words

I am always fascinated by words…
Here’s Orwell’s essay on Politics and the English Language, with the six essential rules at the end https://t.co/KcPnm0Ar

(i) Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.

(ii) Never use a long word where a short one will do.

(iii) If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

(iv) Never use the passive where you can use the active.

(v) Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

(vi) Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

Redmamba

Redmamba is a child,
simple but deep.
Simple in the things
that make like complicated
like possessions and people

Redmamba’s life is lived here
and yet it is not.
It is a silent existence
moving behind the words,
it is a life of steel and solitude.

Beyond the visible softness
is a force of values that the world
can never break,
for Redmamba a minute can hold a thousand years,
for she measures things by love.

Redmamba is a free person
and yet belongs to a group.
It is a life based on dying
firmly, slowly and forever…

@redmamba

redmamba dancing

The corporate fool

Many strategists agree that the business world is getting more complex and difficult. In response, however, many organisations remain complacent and conservative. They do not welcome new ideas, suggestions and thoughts, far less welcome criticism and challenge.

Challenge often seems to be seen as a threat rather than an opportunity to get things right. Traditionally, the traditional organisations have been uneasy in their dealings with those who challenge – often preferring to have a strong and homogenous organisational culture.

The reality is that, people – supposedly the most important resource – are not fully engaged. While most employees have the desire and capability to engage more, they are often blocked by management’s inability or unwillingness to involve them. The challenge organisations now face is how to involve and engage people, in order to use the energy, creativity and competences of the employees. This also means that employees should have the freedom to ask questions, challenge constructively and push against the corporate culture.

While criticism is often viewed negatively, it can be very constructive. Criticism – or challenge, not only allows ideas to be tested, but encourages the generation of new thoughts, ideas and perspectives. It can also greatly help a strategist in getting to know the truth, or at least differing perspectives of the truth. With no shortage of people clamouring to agree with them and feeding their egos, leaders live with a very real danger of becoming isolated from reality.

Another way of looking at this is that the leaders who are completely action-oriented and who ignore the intuitive angle are not fully rounded, and are not capable of perceiving the larger picture. Leaders are often encouraged to be too focused on action and delivery, and not enough on reflection. They tend to evaluate a problem and try to solve it. In our increasingly complex world, we are now faced with dilemmas, not problems. The difference is that problems, even complex ones, have solutions. Dilemmas, on the other hand, only have options and alternatives. As a result, organisations must widen their perspectives and inputs on these issues and dilemmas in order to address them in the most effective way.

It seems that in this case we would gain from learning from the past. In Medieval times, when royalty had absolute power, no one dared to challenge the King or Queen. No matter what royalty said or did, everyone would agree, or disagree on pain of death. The one exception was the Jester or Fool. They could speak the truth, but it had to be disguised under the cover of insanity. Truth was far too dangerous for it to be allowed free expression. Yet, the King or Queen needed someone to give a different perspective from fawning courtiers, who would agree with anything they said, no matter how absurd.

Perhaps we need to reinvent the Fool[59] – the “corporate fool” or “director of cool ideas” and seeing things as they really are and coming up with creative solutions. I would argue that there should be a new core competence – that of saying things as they really are. If employees simply see things as they are, but say or do nothing, then not much is going to change. So, employees have to learn not only to have an opinion, but to challenge and to challenge effectively. Managers and leaders also have to learn to listen and encourage challenge and diversity. It is the strategist who is best positioned to enable this marriage of competencies.

The leader’s task is to manage challenge effectively, and accept that they cannot control everything and everyone. Instead they must champion the challenger and learn to accept that those who challenge are usually trying to help the organisation. Managing challenge is all about encouraging diversity and creativity, It is about becoming more creative and more involved. It is about giving up control and losing the mentality that characterises many organisations. It is a development of trust, excellence, respect and faith in people’s creative potential.

Senior management must therefore create and support a climate of self-discovery within the company and must allow people to spend time working on their own ideas. In addition, they must ensure participative safety and encourage staff to challenge their perceptions and visualise the future in order to bolster their creative thinking. In this way, organisations can really use their most valuable assets and ensure that they can produce new ideas that are both creative and powerful.

In summary, the key challenge for strategists seems to be not only confidence in their own creativity, but also the commitment to find further enabling factors that are conducive to creativity. This starts in the minds of the leaders, the makers of strategy.

The dominant views of strategy may have underestimated the importance of features requiring creativity, learning and acceptance of uncertainties.

We are leaving the age of organized organisations and moving into an era where the ability to understand, facilitate, and encourage processes of self-organization will become a key competence.

I don’t pretend to have all the answers. Or even all the questions. Or that mine is the only analysis that works. That said, my instinct tells me that we are in for interesting times.

[59] Firth, D with Leigh, A. (1998). The Corporate Fool, Capstone

Puzzling Out the Creativity Stories

Rickards (1999) summarises the history of creativity based on the foregoing description:

CHANGE AGENTS LABELLERS EXPERIMENTERS AND MEASURERES CONTEXTUALIST
De Bono’ lateral thinking Wallas’s model Bogan & Sperry’s whole brain  
Gordon’s synectics Rhodes’ 4P model Torrance’s TTCTs  
Osborn’s brainstorming Koestler’s insight Guilford’s Sol model Amabile’s intrinsic motivation

Creativity history (Source adapted from Rickards (1999:35))[24]

The workers can be split into three main groupings: labellers, measurers and experimenters, and creative problem – solving change agents. Rhodes and Wallas are clearly labelers, with Koester also fitting in this group. Bogan and Sperry, Torrance and Guilford were experimenters and measurers, widely recognized by their research methods. Osborn, de Bono and Gordon are examples of change agents who pioneered structured creativity techniques[24]. In some contrast, Amabile represents a shift towards a newer perspective that has been gaining credibility. Its essence is a belief that individuals behave under the influence of social context in which they are embedded. Her extrinsic motivation theory requires us to recognize the influence imposed by extrinsic forces.

The strong radical humanist streak can be found in a shared belief that creativity exists as a universal human characteristic that is open to nurture and development. Osborn wanted to liberate the creative spark that we all possess. This belief was strongly implied in the works of Guilford, Torrance, Gordon and De Bono.

There is a suppressed view found in the ten stories that the individual human efforts can make a difference to their futures. This philosophy accords with the possibility of someone ‘creating’ the future, rather than having their lives pre-determined way.

[24] Rickards, T. (1999) Creativity and the management of change,  1st edition
USA: Blackwell Publishers Inc.

My Perspective on creativity

The use of creativity  is referenced from a variety of perspectives, including psychological personality traits, cognitive decision making processes, and competitive and organizational measures, such as patents and market advantages.

For purposes of this blog, I have adopted the definition of creativity from a self-discovery and learning perspective. In discussing creativity further, I am referring to the break out of existing habits of thought and the support of cognitive schemata and knowledge structures, to a process that involves thinking free from logic, rationality and other constraints, that it is a universal human characteristic and that is open to nurture and development.

I most sympathize with this humanistic view from the “puzzle” of theories described in the my post Puzzling Out the Creativity Stories because it makes most  “sense” when I reflect on my own experiments and observations on this subject. It matches in some way my intrinsic belief that we can “invent the future” , rather than being in the right place at the right time in some kind of pre-determined way outside of our control. Mainly because  they include aspects of knowledge that include creativity as a form of expression of human development.

From the academic research and musings about creativity, I join side and recognize the importance of irrationality or the unscientific nature of beliefs that challenge the orthodox views on business and rationality. In particular I am drawn to approaches that look for ways of disrupting the taken-for-granted thinking that is supported in the rigidity that logic sometimes brings. Instead, search of dichotomies and seek to create new thought processes that marry those dualities, perhaps exploring the pure instinct, the impossible, the distorted, and the politically incorrect. This has influenced my research questions which explored the aspects of instinct and other non orthodox variants.

What is Creativity?

The etymological meaning of word creativity is to create something of the anything.

The etymological root of the word in English and most other European languages comes from the Latin creatus, literally “to have grown.”
Perhaps the most widespread conception of creativity in the scholarly literature is that Creative (or creativeness) is a mental process involving the generation of new ideas or concepts, or new associations between existing ideas or concepts. The products of creative thought usually have both originality and appropriateness[7]. Among theorists there is a view that creativity is “something to do with” processes that produce new and valued ideas.

Despite, or perhaps because of, the ambiguity and multi-dimensional nature of creativity, many attempts have been made to produce a definition[8]. This mysterious phenomenon, though undeniably important and constantly visible, does not seem even to be supported by logic, but by instinct. Creativity can ultimately stand apart from the motivation that triggered the phenomenon and from its creators.

Bertone considers creativity as: “the ability of thinking out of scheme, reaching new and functional conclusions, suited to solve a problem or to catch an opportunity” (Bertone, 1993). The definition of creativity includes another element, which is given by problem anticipation and by opportunity search.

Bertone introduces his definition of creativity step by step. A first element of creativity derives from the distinction between unspecific managerial skills (soft skill) and specific ones (hard skill). The former are creativity, leadership, communication and learning capability. The others are skills in production, finance, marketing and so on. Creativity, therefore, is an unspecific ability, to be added to the other traditional managerial skills. In addition, it is held by everyone, in different measures, and it can be improved. It is the ability of giving a suitable solution to a problem, being this solution new, useful, appropriate and correct. Moreover, this solution is a creative one, when it is searched and found outside those schemes that are already known and used by someone else.

Creativity does not in my view need to be appropriate or original. An artist may use his creativity for the fun of it and the results may not be appropriate. Originality is a subjective concept that depends on the current body of knowledge. Two isolated tribes may create a new hunting technique and think it is original and unique because they are not aware of its use somewhere else.

The eminent psychologist Torrance[9] defines creativity as:

A process of being sensitive to problems, deficiencies, gaps in knowledge, missing elements, disharmonies, and so on; identifying the difficulty: searching for solutions, making guesses, or formulating hypotheses about the deficiencies: testing and retesting them; and finally communicating the results”.

Another eminent psychologist, MacKinnon[10] describes creativity in terms of the conditions it fulfils. According to MacKinnon, creativity involves a response or an idea that is “novel” and “adaptive to reality”. He further adds:

“creativeness involves a sustaining of the original insight, an evaluation and elaboration of it, a developing of it to the full”.

Edwards defines creative contribution as “the degree to which an employee demonstrates new ideas or applications for activities and solutions at work”[11].

Woodman and Schoenfelt opine that “creativity is not a single, unitary characteristic, but instead can be thought of as an imprecise category of behaviour”[12].

Yet others have defined the term differently. Creativity is defined by Thompson (1991)as the shuffling of ideas into new combinations; the changing of existing linkages and forming new associations of words, meanings and events[13]. Intuition, risk taking, spontaneity and innovation are all considered elements of the creative process[14].

Robert E. Franken in his book ‘Human Motivation, pg 396, 3rd ed’ defines creativity as:

“the tendency to generate or recognize ideas, alternatives, or possibilities that may be useful in solving problems, communicating with others, and entertaining ourselves and others”.

He further states that there are three reasons why people are motivated to be creative: need for novel, varied, and complex stimulation, to communicate ideas and values and the need to solve problems. The author brings a very interesting point to the debate which is recognising that creativity can be for entertaining ourselves and others, meaning that it is a form of individuals to print their individuality in the world, to express their personality and get reactions from others.

In order to be creative, one needs to be able to view things in new ways or from a different perspective. Among other things, to be able to generate new possibilities or new alternatives is linked to fundamental qualities of thinking, such as flexibility, tolerance of ambiguity or unpredictability, and the enjoyment of things heretofore unknown.

Robert W. Weisberg brings in a new perspective to the debate in this published book “Creativity – Beyond the Myth of Genius”. His view is that “creative” refers to novel products of value, as in “The airplane was a creative invention.” “Creative” also refers to the person who produces the work, as in, Picasso was creative.” “Creativity,” then refers both to the capacity to produce such works, as in “How can we foster our employees’ creativity?” and to the activity of generating such products, as in “Creativity requires hard work[15]“. His point is that for something to be creative, it is not enough for it to be novel: it must have value, or be appropriate to the demands of the situation.”

Another interesting perspective is brought by the Systems Model of Creativity: the creative domain, which is nested in culture – the symbolic knowledge shared by a particular society or by humanity as a whole; the field, which includes all the gatekeepers of the domain; the individual person, who using the symbols of the given domain has a new idea or sees a new pattern, and when this novelty is selected by the appropriate field for inclusion into the relevant domain.

Creativity is seen as any act, idea, or product that changes an existing domain, or that transforms an existing domain into a new one. What counts is whether the novelty he or she produces is accepted for inclusion in the domain.
Again, in agreement with the previous authors, this view limits the understanding of creativity as a phenomenon that needs to be ‘appropriate’, have ‘value’ to a group or society in general, or be accepted within parameters ‘accepted’ in the field. It ignores the act of creation that is subject to its own geniality, will to express passion, to destroy indifference, to discover the very essence of creation, just for the sake of it. Not for it’s appropriateness for society, but as an expression of individuality.

Joly[16] considers creativity from a similar angle as Weisberg by stating that “The art of setting problems and suggesting proper solutions to them” (Joly 1993).
Moreover he suggests two paths have to be paced simultaneously to apply creativity: the first path is a psychological one and requires the abolition of inhibitions, it is to say personal and natural hindrances; the second path is a logical one and implies: the adoption of a well identified action process; intuitions based on techniques and methods properly chosen and adapted to the specific problem to be solved.

Joly’s approach is particularly interesting to the organisational context as it refers to the need to conciliate both sides of the paradox that strategists face when making decisions: follow their own intuition or a logical reasoning path.

According to Jaoui [17] creativity is characterized by an attitude or a decision, explicit or implicit, to exercise a control on reality in order to modify it.
In addition, he says that the main instrument for a successful strategy is practical creativity, that is the methodology enabling to develop and to use effectively the own capability of inventing original and acceptable solutions. It aims to help to discover and increase individual resources, to clarify the objectives in order to take decisions and to elaborate a winning strategy.

Teresa Amabile[18] states that fundamental “ingredients” of individual creativity are: the expertise in a specific field or expertise; the second ingredient is the ability to think in a creative way, in other words the ability to look at the events from a new perspective and to imagine a wider range of different possibilities; finally, the third and last ingredient is the intrinsic motivation, resulting from the pleasure of doing a specific thing.

[7] Creativity. (2006, June 11). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 17:48, June 11, 2006

[8] More than 60 different definitions of creativity can be found in the psychological literature (Taylor, 1988), and it is beyond the scope of this literature review to review them all.

[9]Torrance, E.P. (1962) Guiding creative talent
USA: Prentice Hall – Englewood Cliffs

[10] MacKinnon, D. W. (1978) In search of human effectiveness: identifying and developing creativity
USA: Creative education Foundation

[11] Edwards, M.R. (1989), Measuring creativity at work: developing a reward-for-creativity policy,
Journal of Creative Behavior, Vol. 23 No. 1, pp. 26-36.

[12] Woodman, R.W. and Schoenfeldt, L.F., (1990) An interactionist model of creative behavior,
Journal of Creative Behavior, Vol. 24 No. 4, pp. 279-88

[13] Thompson, T.N. (1991) Dialectics, communication and exercises for creativity,
Journal of Creative Behavior, Vol. 25 No. 1, pp. 43-51

[14] Roweton, W.E. (1989) Enhancing individual creativity in American business and education, Journal of Creative Behavior, Vol. 23 No. 4, pp. 248-56

[15] Weisberg, R. W. (1986) Creativity – genius and other myths,
USA: Freeman.

[16] Guilford J.P. (1977) Way Beyond the IQ,
Creative Education Foundation

[17] Jaoui H. (1991) Créatifs au quotidien. Outils et méthodes,
Paris, Editions «Hommes et Perspectives»,

[18] Amabile T.M. (1998) How to kill creativity,
Harvard Business Review, September/October, pp. 76-87

Dedication

To all my teachers and mentors who encouraged the exploration of my own creative spark and to believe in my own intuition to fly over the chains and walls of criticism, reason and science.

we cannot wait for great visions from great people, for they are in short supply… it is up to us to light our own small fires in the darkness”

Charles Handy