A global leadership survey by IBM recently put creativity as the most important quality for success in business. This will come as no surprise to this community. Yet, when creativity is so critical to business, why does it still feel so difficult to manage? It seems that many organisations understand why they need to be creative, but there is a big gap in understanding the how. So how de we manage organisations to be more creative?
To address this, we were inspired to draw learning from fields where creativity is abundant – design, media, art and even gaming. This approach has led to a simple model to inspire aptitudes towards organisational creativity - and it has informed many programmes and development experiences I have worked on over the past two years.
Visioning: presenting visions, opportunities, challenges and developments in more engaging and inspiring ways. Compelling people to engage, to dream, to enquire, to discuss, and to act with greater purpose.
Imagination: understanding how ideas happen; constantly seeking new sources of inspiration; finding free space and tools for cultivating ideas and exploring opportunities.
Play: making space for trial and error: for experimentation, simulation, modelling and improvisation. Setting up game-like scenarios and projects to tackle challenges with more vigour, excitement and meaning.
Symphony: bringing people together across an organisation (and beyond) and sharing continuous dialogue, ideas and possibilities. It’s about playing the role of conductor – transferring information, ideas and knowledge.
Aura is about developing a unique style and ensuring that all components through change have this, making the sum of the parts greater than the whole.
The strands provoke a shift in perspective around change and development - with the right questions this can be very powerful. We have used this to create learning festivals, planning tournaments, strategy simulations - lots of fantastic experiences. It is also a model that informs leadership development programmes and I think this is only scratching the surface. With time, it may help organisational designs and management processes.
The challenge in using the model lies in creating space for grounded reflection around key questions: How is this relevant? How does it affect our ways of thinking and working? And then - how to make it practical?
Here are some suggested starting points:
1. Think of a management aim or challenge. Then ask yourself how each of the strands plays against it. (E.g. ‘How do we envision that change for others?’, ‘How do we inspire imagination around that challenge?’ ‘How can we simulate or model that change?’ And so on.)
2. Then compare how creative systems might approach that challenge. How would a museum envision the challenge for others? How would a dance company ‘rehearse’ the change? How would a festival organiser bring people together to explore and share? What would the game of the challenge look like?
3. From this analysis, it’s then possible to start defining a new set of mindsets, skills, tools and approaches to working more creatively. More deeply, it opens exploration for how your structures and processes support or constrain creativity and then redefining and rebuilding these.