Creative Intelligence made this short-list for best books in 2013 on innovation and creativity. CEO-Read focuses on books for businesss execs and managers who want to raise their creativity game. Is that you?
I’m in good company on the list. David and Tom Kelley’s Creative Confidence is on the list as well.
Back in 2010, IBM did a global survey of 1500 CEOs. For the first time, the CEOs said that creativity was the most important leadership ability. Creativity is more important today for senior managers than operations, marketing or strategy.
Leadership plays two central roles in promoting creativity. First, CEOs must understand what is meaningful to their companies’ customers. This is not the same thing as conventional strategy. Knowing what Frank Knight, the Chicago School of Economics founder called “higher order wants,” not just needs, is key in orienting your business. Lou Gerstner saved IBM in the 1980s by talking with its customers and discovering that they wanted help, not heavy metal big computers, from IBM. He turned it into a service company.
Knowing how to mine meaning is a key creative competency.
Second, curating creativity and then scaling what offers the most value and the greatest chance of success is a key CEO/leadership capability. Nearly all the great labs and great companies that innovate well have terrific curators of creativity who supply finance, markets and the making stuff to what they believe will provide value. In the art world, these curators are patrons. In sports, coaches. In startups, venture capitalists (or crowdfunders as in Kickstarter).
My thanks tot he curators at CEO-Read for including Creative Intelligence in their list of Best Books for 2013.
A huge reaction against teaching to the test is underway and the US is desperately seating for a new educational curriculum to promote creativity in its children. Ironically, there is already a 100-year old methodology that is a wonderful way for K-12 children to increase their creative capacities–Progressive Education. It is no accident that Jeff Bezos, Larry Page and Sergey Brin all went to Montessori school. Many other startup founders majored in Design or Art in college, learning in very similar classroom environments.
Creativity can be learned. We can all learn to be more creative. And many of us can learn to be exceptionally creative.
In my book, Creative Intelligence, I show how creativity is directly linked to entrepreneurialism. We can all learn creative competencies that increase economic value, whether it is in the starting up of a new company or the launch of new services and products that engage customers.
In early January, City & Country, one of the earliest Progressive Education-based schools in New York City and in the US is celebrating its centennial birthday and if you can, you should come. The event will be in the beautiful modernist Tishman Auditorium, designed by Joseph Urban, at The New School (also founded as a Progressive Education style school with John Dewey as its leader).
There will be great speakers, from Kickstarter, the Rockwell Group, Vimeo, RGA, MIT, Kid-O and yours truly.
US students did not do as well as Shanghai students on global math tests–yet again. And we beat ourselves over this fact.
At the same time, Chinese parents are increasingly turning against their education system which gives them high PISA scores and sending their children to the US to be educated. Why? They want more US-style creativity.
The truth is that innovation and entrepreneurship are not correlated with test-taking and high scores in math or science. A start-up culture is correlated with a culture of creativity–of learning how to discover and take what is original and turn it into something of value, economic value.
The best K-12 schools in the US in both the private and public spheres know this and teach kids how to be creative. Montessori and other progressive education schools teach kids how to be innovative and creative. They teach children how to become founders of new companies.
Ironically, tens of thousands of Chinese parents know this and are sending their children to the US for creativity education. We should learn from these Chinese.
I am about to head downtown to the Smithsonian Native American Museum in New York to kick off the annual Christmas Native American art show. Some of the most talented Native American jewelers, potters, fashion designers and painters have traveled to NYC from all over the country to sell their art. If you are in New York–or Washington DC since there is a market there as well–go.
This is a great opportunity to get acquainted with a small, creative art market that has a fanatic following and is just now going global. I know because I am a collector myself. Japanese and German art collectors have been buying Native art for decades but on a small scale. Once that scale takes off, look out…
Nothing proclaims the growing importance of creativity and design to entrepreneurship than the move of RISD president John Maeda to the key Silicon Valley venture capital firm of Kleiner Perkins where he will become the first Design Partner. At the same time, John will chair the Design Advisory Board at eBay
From Airbnb to to Kickstarter to Youtube, a growing number of startup founders have a design/arts background that provides the skills and values to start new companies. Knowing what is meaningful to people, reframing what is conventional, playing to reach unexpected outcomes, scaling creativity to actual creation–all these skills come out of an education based in art, music, liberal arts and creativity in general. John has understood this for many years and has been a proponent of STEAM, not just STEM.
One of the great challenges ahead to to recreate venture capital itself using the tools of creativity and design. The old portfolio approach of backing many, many startups with the hope of one or two breaking out is ridiculously inefficient. VCs typically have a 5%-10% success rate. Applying the creative competencies of design to early startups could raise that startup success rate to 50% or 60%. And that could have a major economic impact on all of us.
Good luck John. Brilliant move.
Creativity is extremely hot as an existential issue–we, as individuals want to increase our creative capacities–and as an economic issue–the economic value of creativity is increasingly important. So here is my list of the best books on creativity that I’ve read this year.
Mea Culpa, I wrote one of them precisely because of creativity’s crucial role in society. So let’s start with that (yes it’s a bit weird).
1) Creative Intelligence. It offers five creative competencies–Knowledge Mining, Framing, Playing, Making and Pivoting (Scaling)–that individuals and businesses can learn to increase their creative capacity or CQ, creative intelligence. The message is that you can train to be creative. The book describes a new entrepreneurial “Indie Capitalism” rising out of creativity and innovation. With great stories about the Rolling Stones, the CIA and eating monkey brains.
2) Zig Zag by Keith Sawyer. A terrific 8-step process to boost your creativity by the modern pioneer in creativity research. Sawyer, a jazz pianist, psychologist and professor, provides very specific things we can do in our daily lives to make us more creative. (How to become an expert in 20 minutes–and then create something new). Great stories about Judy Blume and others living a creative life. From the author of Group Genius.
3) Creative Confidence by Tom Kelley and David Kelley. Excellent suggestions on building your confidence in being creative by two brothers from IDEO. David is a founder of IDEO and the extraordinary Stanford D-School. Tom is the author of The Art of Innovation. Powerful examples from IDEO and the D-School of using Design Thinking exercises to learn how to become more confident in being creative. Building your creative muscle.
4) The Business Solutions to Poverty by Paul Polak and Mal Warwick. The inability of Social Innovation to scale limits its significance. Here is a book that shows how to scale water, housing and other projects to make a difference. Polak offers specific ways of building billion dollars businesses to work inside the Bottom of the Pyramid, involve the people and move them out of poverty. A realistic model that scales. Great.
5) Rotman on Design, edited by Roger Martin and Karen Christensen. Much of the best writing on Design Thinking is in Rotman Magazine, put out by the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. Former dean Roger Martin has been a key leader in promoting Design Thinking for innovation. The articles are business-based, brilliant and deeply useful. Many of the best creatives in the world wrote the pieces. Get it.
6) What Money Can’t Buy by Michael J. Sandel. This is an extraordinary book that talks about the line between what money can buy and what money can’t buy and how we are blurring it all the time. 21st century capitalism is all about taking what money can’t buy–your private information on Facebook or Google, for example–and transforming it into what money can buy, through advertising. Here is a philosophical reading (smooth reading) of that critical social and economic process. And maybe how we can stop it.
7) Creativity: The Psychology of Discovery and Invention by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. OK, it first came out in 1997 but you should read it again. The first time you read it for the notion of Individual “flow.” This time read the section on Florence and how cities and class and culture act to promote creativity. It is about social flow–engagement–and critical to understanding creativity in social media. And important in understanding how cities can promote creativity. Why New York is hot and Paris is not.
8) In Praise of Shadows by Junichiro Tanizaki. Yes, this is really old–1933 but I use portions of it in my class at Parsons. Tanizaki talks about how we really we engage with objects and takes us into a conversation about aura. This is critical in an age of social media and the network of things. Tanizaki shows us the emotional content of engagement when he talks of opening the traditional Japanese rice pot, the aroma, the look and feel of the rice, the connection people have to their food, their place, their lives. It’s not about algorithms, its about what is meaningful to people.