Innovation and collaboration require appropriate recognition for divergent attitudes and convictions. Creative characterization can inspire respect for authentic otherness. Catalytic enablers can activate positive business transformation and progress. But allowing space and freedom for meaningful, open interaction will be challenging to actualize and to sustain.
Conventional organizational dynamics often reinforce inadequate models and behaviors in unnecessarily limiting ways. It seems that individual personal experience predetermines the nature of interpersonal exchange, in direct encounters and in collective group circumstances. Sometimes the only behavioral patterns may be based on parent and child associations. Otherwise, behavioral patterns might be based on military command and control assumptions. Habits enforce unintentional and intentional bias. Many more dysfunctional AntiPatterns can be identified. Appreciation for responsive awareness may ultimately permit greater flexibility and adaptability.
Here are several brilliant, essential instances of creative characterization, demonstrating a remarkable degree of sympathetic agreement, drawn from very different areas of professional experience – Luke Williams, John Beebe, and Dana Gioia.
Disruptive Leadership – Luke Williams has an impressive background with innovation, from generating several US patents, from a role with a prominent creative design firm, and from his current position as director of the innovation program at NYU Stern School of Business. He energetically advocates organizational dynamics for recognizing and balancing distinctly opposing patterns of behavior.
There will always be presence of Continuity around established and accustomed business assumptions and practices. But toward approaching innovation and change, there should also be an appreciation for Discontinuity – respecting diametrically opposing possibilities and opportunities. Innovation occurs when the known components and resources – with the existing availabilities of Continuity – can be disassembled and recombined in a significantly different way – following alternative patterns emerging from challenging ideations representing Discontinuity.
An impassioned speaker, Luke Williams uses examples from well-known popular films. In considering Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960), the storyline begins as a theft and escape adventure, although it seems that few people who may have seen the film in the past will actually remember the entire first part.
After the famously shocking and surprising shower scene, the storyline converts to a murder and mystery drama.
The power emerges out of the singularly memorable turning point that takes the audience on a new and unexpected trajectory of experience. This is what innovation is all about.
“Innovation for growth is nothing more, as I said, than the willingness to take the ingredients that you have available in your organization and seek a new arrangement to make them more valuable. That’s all it is. Anyone should feel empowered to do that.“ – Luke Williams
The whole notion of business disruption affecting an industry or market or segment represents a primary concern for Luke Williams. Otherwise, insights around coping with individual disruption, with respect to persistent personal interactions, can be seen to be based on interpersonal psychology. It should be reasonable to assert that organizational dynamics will represent collective aggregations, reflections and extensions of individual dynamics.
Energies and Patterns – As a highly-regarded practicing psychologist and conceptual theorist, John Beebe MD illustrates observations about opposing tendencies and innate biases, also raising carefully selected excerpts from well-known classic films. The concept of separate and distinctive Ego-Syntonic and Ego-Dystonic realms of perception and behavior can be seen to display alignment and agreement with the realms of Continuity and Discontinuity – respecting group settings and organizational settings.
In the classic film The Best of Everything (1959), the characterization played by the boss Joan Crawford displays an extreme version of Extraverted Sensation, while the characterization played by the subordinate Hope Lange displays an opposing version of Introverted Sensation. Here the established expectations can be seen as representing a stance of Continuity and the otherwise well-intentioned alternative interpretations can be seen as a stance of Discontinuity. But the prevalent assumptions will come to be challenged during the course of events. John Beebe has gathered many more examples.
While a full exposition of the psychological principles does become quite exacting, one critical component concerns the way in which a personal reliance on Extraversion, or a personal reliance on Introversion, enforces a diametrically opposing tendency in relation to the other attitudinal category. Stated most simply, if maintenance of Continuity depends on Extraversion, in some particular manner, then a counteractive Discontinuity will rely on Introversion. John Beebe goes further to reference specific psychological functions in relation to any preference for the attitude of Extraversion or the attitude of Introversion, which will also be operative in any specific situation.
An apparent correlation would seem to be reinforced by the fact that both Luke Williams and John Beebe are performing in separate professional fields. There is no reason to assume that either would be knowledgeable about the work of the other, up to this point in time.
Can Poetry Matter? – Dana Gioia earned an advanced academic degree in literature from Harvard before an advanced degree in business from Stanford. He began a professional career as a product manager with a large, international corporation, eventually leaving to pursue creative writing.
It appears Dana Gioia has succeeded, against all odds. Most recently he has been serving as Poet Laureate for the State of California, as well as maintaining responsibilities as a professor at USC. Previously he also acted as Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts for a number of years, in spite of a reluctance to take on high-profile, public challenges distracting away from his focus on poetry.
Perhaps it should not be too surprising that well-crafted, creative characterizations happen to occur in several long-form narrative poems by Dana Gioia, particularly “Counting the Children” (1990) and “Haunted” (2010), separated by a twenty-year interval in time. Recommended reading, the protagonists will encounter circumstances going outside from an accustomed zone of comfort, and some disruptive turning point occurs that requires an expansion of consciousness and a change of awareness. It can be shown that the natures of personality and influence in both compositions do appear to fall in exact alignment with the precise kinds of natural oppositions and acceptances, as descripted in the personality theory of the psychologist John Beebe. Again, in spite of apparent correlations, there would have been no mutual knowledge about the works of each other prior to appearance of very recent publications.
In attempting to harmonize a special empathy for creative characterization, as a necessary accomplice for innovation and collaborative teamwork, it is clear that Dana Gioia actually did focus on practical business situations requiring a radical rethinking of well-known products and brands during his tenure with a large, international corporation. This would suggest that an open and perceptive frame of mind will precede an ability to influence meaningful, profitable change and redirection.
Luke Williams advocates recognition for the proven benefit of Disruptive Leadership, capable of operating apart and away from Sustaining Leadership. It is increasingly important to build a portfolio of unconventional strategy options and unconventional concepts, in order to maintain readiness to activate change and redirection when it becomes evident that alternative ways of performing will be necessary. Systems of Continuity operate differently than Systems of Disruption. Conceptual Innovation becomes realized precisely at the intersection adjoining a familiar Reinforcing routines and less know, alternative Balancing possibilities.
Reluctance to rethink the historical status quo.
Avoidance of vulnerability.
Realize that disruption and change may represent the New Normal. This is about mindset.
Time-honored business assumptions and clichés need to be questioned.
Practice creative characterization.
Learn to honor otherness. Consistently show appreciation for help and assistance.
Special thanks due to Dana Gioia and also John Beebe for sharing direct correspondence.
Luke Williams –
Dana Gioia –
Luke Williams –
John Stackhouse –
Geoffrey Moore –