Time published a new poll on how Americans viewed creativity–with remarkable results. The good news is that a huge majority of people believe creativity is very important. Nearly 2/3s believe creativity is more important to their workplace careers than they knew in school. The bad news is that most Americans don’t know how to practice creativity. They value creativity but don’t understand it.
So we need both a lot of social time engaging with trusted friends and colleagues working on challenging new ideas AND alone-time to integrate those thoughts and connect the dots to generate new stuff. It’s not “either-or.”
The five creative competencies of my book Creative Intelligence: Knowledge Mining, Framing, Playing, Making and Pivoting: are skills that can build both creative capacity and creative confidence. This is true for business organizations as well as individuals.
Karen Yair has written a wonderful review of my new book, Creative Intelligence, for CRAFTS magazine. You can follow this great UK-based magazine on Twitter at @craftsmagazine but, alas, the publication itself is not yet online. So go directly to the reviewer–Karen Yair’s–own WordPress site for her reasons why Creative Intelligence reflects the importance of making in creativity–and for remaking our around the economic value generated by innovation.
Check it out.
Truly high-growth innovative businesses, whether they are startups or big ole behemoths, need both a creative and an operations person at the top. Think Steve Jobs and Tim Cook. When the creative leaves and the operations person takes control, the transition is tricky at best–and often problematic. The narrative frame of Apple now is all about taxes and profits and money–not innovative products, not love and emotion, not aura. OK maybe for shareholders and Wall Street. Not good for those of us who us Apple stuff.
A similar thing has happened at another “Design-led” big company in the US–P&G. At P&G, A.G. Lafley redesigned the company from 200 to 2010, opening up its silos, promoting a business culture of creativity, and ultimately generating 30% of annual profits from new products. He brought in Roger Martin, dean of the Rotman School of Management, to rethink strategy. And Tim Brown from IDEO, to instill Design Thinking. Lafley was replaced by an operations guy who focussed on efficiencies and traditional marketing and the result? Lackluster results.
In my book, Creative Intelligence, I spend time explaining how Lafley used Knowledge Mining, Framing and Pivoting (Scaling) to change the sources of P&G’s profits and boost them to new highs. Lafley got his managers to “Connect + Develop,” to take their deep domains of knowledge in chemistry and product and connect them to new spaces, new ideas. No brainstorming of a 1000 ideas. No funnels and processes of innovation. Just smart people thinking about extending outside their silos to create the new. Then scaling like crazy.
The next big question is whether or not Lafley brings back Claudia Kotscha, the genius who tried to change P&G’s culture and make it more creative.
When people ask me for the one thing they can do to increase their creative capacity, I always tell them to find a creative friend. Being around–and learning from–creative people is the single most important thing you can do to quickly raise your own creative capacities. This is what Marissa Mayer is doing at Yahoo by buying Tumblr. She is bringing 26-year old Tumblr founder David Karp into Yahoo culture, as well as Tumblr’s great young Gen Y staff of social media experts.
Mayer is also buying the NYC innovation magic. There is something great going on in the New York startup scene that is different from the West Coast. Technology continues to dominate the California scene, but culture plays the biggest role in New York. New York focuses on what is meaningful to people, then goes out and finds the technology. It’s about emotion, engagement, connection, happiness. Not geeky technology. Tumblr gets that. It’s in Tumblr’s own culture.
Tumblr also has something else that Mayer should embrace–a new kind of health care system for its employees. Sherpaa was developed by Dr. Jay Parkinson. General Assembly is using it too. https://sherpaa.com
Mayer can use Yahoo’s enormous platform to scale Tumblr. But that’s the easy part. Absorbing its creative culture, giving power to it creative founders are more important. Mayer just went out and found a new creative friend. Now she has to learn to play with him.
I’m giving a brown-bag talk at ecotrust in Portland today. Check out their website because this amazing organization is doing when we all need to do all over the country, all over the world.
When I talk about the rise of a new “Indie Capitalism,” ecotrust is one model of how to do it. Food, Forest, Fish, Entrepreneurialism–Indigenous Insight–they are doing in the Pacific Northwest. Check it out. Join.
Microsoft has thousands of brilliant researchers, engineers and social scientists who are incredibly creative yet this high-tech company appears to an enormous failure on its hands–the new Windows 8 operating system. There is so much riding on this new OS–it is supposed to “update the personal computer for the tablet era by moving to a new touchscreeen interface based on colourful tiles…” according to the FT.
But people are finding it difficult to use. The familiar “Start” button is gone. The old desktop launch screen is hidden. And the new touchscreen isn’t captivating enough. So both old and new consumers are unhappy.
How could Microsoft spend so much time and money and produce a dud? I’m guessing it has something to do with what I call the “Gift Model of Design.” I’m giving a talk at Ziba in Portland on Thursday and this is what I am going to say
“The oldest Dogma of Design is the Gift Dogma. This model of innovation is the favorite of tech and consumer goods companies–most companies actually. It frames Design as a Gift from really smart people who invent cool stuff and throw it over the wall to consumers. Along the way, in flight, designers and marketers get a brief chance to “humanize” and “prettify” the technology. Maybe do a bit of focus group research at the back end. Then toss it onto the market and if people like it, great. If they don’t, oops.
Now I’ve had engineers and researchers say to me “people don’t know what they want until we give it to them.” And they have a point. Look at the biggest innovations of the past 30 years–Google, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, ZipCar, Instagram, Match.com, Method, and most have come from young entrepreneurs who embody the values and knowledge of their generation. They succeed by mining the existential wants of their generation and give, as gifts, new products, services, experiences to members of their generation. The rest of us, not in their generation, can come along. Or not.
The gift model works OK when you know the person you are giving to, when you embody that person’s culture and values. But as Valentine’s Day shows us, even when you think you know the other person, your chances of success are not all that high. And when you give a gift to a stranger, the odds fall much further. Go outside what you yourself embody and you could be imposing your higher order wants on other people (SLIDE OF SOMEONE WEARING GOOGLE GLASSES). Look at Google Glass. She looks happy and great wearing Google Glass–but there are many people who may be thinking—is she invading my privacy by taping my conversation without asking or is she sharing your image and words with unknown persons? The Gift Dogma can backfire. ”
I’m guessing that the brilliant engineers at Microsoft didn’t immerse themselves enough in the culture of the company’s consumers to see what is truly meaningful to them. Or, if they or the army of social scientists at the company did, the key cultural information was not incorporated in the design of Windows 8.
I suggest a better model of design in my book, Creative Intelligence. Brands are simply the commodification of meaning. You have to understand what is deeply meaningful to consumers to create a successful product. That, apparently, didn’t happen with Windows 8.
I’ll be speaking on May 15 at one of the smartest design/innovation conferences given–the Design Strategy Conference in Chicago put on by Patrick Whitney at the Institute of Design. If you want new ideas, new concepts and new people to hang with, sign up. It’s two days–May 14 and 15.
Check out this list of speakers.
Jan Chipchase is one of my big heroes. In my book, Creative Intelligence, I talk about the need to “mine the existential” in cultures to understand the deeper meaning of people’s lives. Jan has been a pioneer in mining the existential, from China to America and beyond for Frog Design. He has an insightful comment about Google Glass we should all read.
Jan is one of the growing number of “thought leaders” being offered Google Glass to wear and comment on, building knowledge–and political support. Jan turned Google down. He’s worried about Google’s privacy problem–that it continuously violates peoples’ privacy. Here’s the comment.
I presented at Google recently on the five Creative Competencies of Creative Intelligence and began by thanking Google for saving my life. I’ve never been able to tell direction–left and right–and felt that i lived in a constant state of lost. Google Maps changed my life. It had deep existential meaning for me. I was no longer lost.
But, like Jan, I also questioned Google Glass. I put up a slide of a pretty woman wearing the glasses (all the pictures are of good-looking young people), and said it embodied the values of Googles’ Gen Y engineering founders. Great technology that could do cool stuff. They used the “Gift” model of innovation–use tech to invent new things and throw it over the wall to society.
But in this case, society is wary of Google’s intentions and worried about the impact of Google Glass on privacy.Taking data without asking appears to be baked into the deep DNA of Google–from taking content, to taking books to taking emails and other data when taking pictures for Google Maps. All put on Search.
What would Google Glass “take?” I don’t know. And neither does Jan. and neither do you.
Jan has a new book out–Hidden in Plain Site.
It’s really good.
I’m starting to keep a list of colleges and universities requiring undergrads to take at least one course in creativity. So far here is my tentative list:
City University of New York (CUNY)
Carnegie Mellon University
Illinois Institutes of Technology (IIT)
I just came back from an incredible week in Norway, talking to about 400 Nordic designers and business people on my book, Creative Intelligence. The wonderful Norwegian Design Council puts on an annual Design Day presenting awards to the best Norwegian designers and I was lucky enough to be invited to speak.
Here is the full presentation that shows why I think Knowledge Mining (for cultural meaning), Framing, Playing, Making and Pivoting (Scaling) are the most important Creative Competencies of our day. I begin the presentation in Oslo with a discussion about love–and how love represents the kind of dynamic engagement we have today that is meaningful to people. User Engagement or UE is more important that UX, user experience.
The video also has a clip of Dream:In, a conference in India where students interviewed people about their dreams (not their wants), a bit of a runway show and a weird 30 seconds of Harry West, CEO of Continuum, playing at drinking water to redesign the Tetra Pak. Serious Play is key to creativity.
My talk goes from 2:17 to 38:00. Then I lead a terrific panel discussion with leading designers from Norway and the US that you shouldn’t miss. Watch for Anna Kirah, of the Oslo-based design and innovation consultancy Making Waves, talking about redesigning the travel experience of people at the Oslo airport.
Check it out. A fantastic gathering of designers and business people to talk about key issues of innovation and creativity. I’ll be signing Creative Intelligence books–200 of them!
Amy Smedinghoff was killed yesterday in Afghanistan delivering books to children in their school. She joined the US Foreign Service three years ago right after Johns Hopkins. Her convoy was hit by a suicide bomber. The Foreign Service was “a calling” to her, according to Amy Smedinghoff’s parents in the NYT’s article. I expect that the three US soldiers and other civilian who died with her also believed they had a calling to serve.
Frank Knight, the Chicago School economist said that “the chief thing which the common-sense individual actually wants is not the satisfaction for the wants which he has, but more, and better wants.” In an era of racing to meet our “needs,” of hundreds of transactions and exchanges a day on social media, it would serve us well to stop and think about the power of the “calling.”
A calling is a higher order “want,” more like a dream or aspiration than need. It motivates people across many realms of life. A calling is what motivates teachers, religious leaders, foreign service people and soldiers but it is also the driving force for entrepreneurs in starting up new companies. A calling is a primary economic force that drives growth.
We are called to a mission. It beckons us. It beckoned this wonderful woman.
Very few Social innovation organizations do anything in America. Despite horrendous stats showing many rural areas, urban neighborhoods and Native American reservations having food, housing, education, safety, water, infant mortality and drug problems as bad as many of the worst areas in Africa and Asia, hardly any of the new Social Innovation organizations or the older philanthropic foundations operate on US soil. Project H does, in Bertie County, North Carolina.
Emily has been working there with local people for years and there is a new documentary out showing what is being done. Check it out
The work isn’t glamorous. It isn’t exotic. It is important.
Check out The Business & Leadership category on Amazon.
Corporations are racing to build up their creative capacities to deal with the cascading changes disrupting all of us today. Creative Intelligence provides strategic advice on how to generate, manage and scale creativity. And it reminds all of us that creativity is the core of economic value and serious profit.
I just learned that the Book 21 in Korea will pick up the translation rights and publish Creative Intelligence. That’s wonderful. Korea has spent tens of billions of dollars making itself more creative and innovative over the past decade. Samsung is poised to make the shift from Fast Follower to Creative Leader in consumer electronics. And Korea is home to the largest alumni of Parsons School of Design. Many of the concepts in the book were developed in my classes at Parsons which are filled with terrific students from Korea. It’s a good day.
Apple’s CEO Tim Cook was forced by the Chinese Communist Party to apologize for bad consumer warranty service but the microblogs in China are full of people defending the company–and blaming the government. They are asking why the government is not going after domestic companies who are making fraudulent and sometimes dangerous goods. So what’s going on?
An insightful piece in my favorite business newspaper, the Financial Times, suggested that forces within the government singled Apple out to send a message to other Western companies that they had to “kowtow” and pay tribute to the government and cooperate. The CCTV, the China Central Television station, run by the government has an annual show on March 15, timed for the world consumer rights day, which focusses on foreign companies in China. Foreign companies spend a lot of money on advertising on the show, according to the FT piece, and those that do not are often the target of investigation.
Apple made many mistakes during this warranty crisis in not addressing the issue early and loudly. After it was highlighted on March 15 on the CCTV show (along with Volkswagen), Apple failed to issue a big public apology. VW did. The deeper problem for Apple is not understanding the political culture it is operating in. China is Apple’s second biggest market and could grow to its largest, but not if the company angers the powers in Beijing. Apple has been under criticism for poor labor practices in the factories that make its iPads and iPhones. They are owned and run by Foxconn, a Taiwanese assembly company, but Apple is held responsible. The warranty episode follows several years of suicides at the plants.
There is a certain irony to the Apple incident. More than any single company, it was Apple that taught China how to build and export high-quality electronic goods to the world. Before Apple came on the scene, China was known for poor-quality goods (and still is in many market areas). But the demands of Steve Jobs and Apple for perfection, pushed China to raise the bar on quality-control. No good deed goes unpunished.
On Wednesday, I’m giving a talk about Creative Intelligence at Frog Design in NYC. These are tumultuous times in the Design/Innovation consultancy business and it will be exciting to talk with these great people about Knowledge Mining, Framing, Playing, Making and Pivoting, the key competencies of my book
Frog is one of the largest innovation consultancies in the world. I put its founder, the brilliant Harmut Esslinger on the cover of Business Week when I first began covering design for business. The early Apple design language of clean, white and small was Esslinger’s and Frog’s. Esslinger and Frog have always understood the power of aura and the notion of a calling. In his book, A Fine Line, Esslinger writes that “Every product promotes an identity and a clear idea of the consumer experience it provides as part of the bigger Apple "ecosystem.” When consumers buy a product that has been “Designed in California,” as the Apple label proudly proclaims, they are buying into a way of life. “
Now read that last sentence again and you get the notions of aura, charisma and calling–critical to deeply understanding what is meaningful to people. People join a social movement when they buy into an "ecosystem” that gives them identity and purpose.
I prefer the idea of social movement to ecosystem and UE–User Engagement–to UX, Use Experience. UE reflects the true dynamic participation of people in their products and services these days. Hartmut gets it. So does Frog.
Oh, Hartmut is sitting astride a huge motorcycle on the cover. Ha,
Frank Knight, the Chicago School economist wrote: “The chief thing which the common sense individual actually wants is not satisfaction for the wants which he has, but more, and better wants.” To him, opportunity to create value–economic and other value–comes from identifying those tacit “better wants” and creating ways to fulfill them.
A post Easter Monday is a good time to think about “better wants” in our lives and the lives of others. Wants are not “needs,” they are aspirations and dreams. They are not something we give to satisfy, like food and water, but something we fulfill, like education and safety. They come from asking about dreams, not requirements.
Understanding “better want” requires us to get deeply into the meaning of culture and how people live it–their rituals and ceremonies. I’ve been signing a lot of books these past weeks and I had no idea how meaningful it is to people to have an author sign a book they are about to read. In the two or three minutes of engagement they have with you, they tell stories, gives complements, shyly suggest names they want on the page and simply have an intimate moment with you. This is a “better want” and I’m happy I can satisfy it.
I just love this review of the book by the Portland Book Review. It captures the message of Creative Intelligence which is that we are ALL creative and can learn to be MORE creative.
I’ve been speaking at Google, Microsoft and a lot of other companies in the past weeks about the message of Creative Intelligence it is remarkable how many engineers, doctors, scientists and other “analytical” people say they are not creative–only to prove they really are once I ask them what they actually do.
Anyone who is good at seeing patterns is creative. People who do that using numbers and , engineers for example, typically don’t see themselves as creative. BUT THEY ARE!
I will be speaking at Ziba Design, one of the greatest design and innovation consultancies in the world, in PDX on May 9. It’s founder, Sohrab Vossoughi, taught me that Design is not just about process and thinking but about love–that powerful attraction you feel for an object, an experience. It’s about the beckoning, the aura, the culture. Come and have a conversation with us. The book has great stories of Ziba’s research and success in China.
And it will be on sale there if you don’t want to buy it now on Amazon or B&N.
In reading the Financial Times’ coverage of the teen entrepreneur Nick D'Aloisio, you can see how he used many Creative Competencies to create his Summly App which Yahoo just bought for $30 million.
D'Aloisio used Knowledge Mining to connect three key dots of knowledge that he embodied as a 15 year-old living in London circa 2013. They are information (access to knowledge is a changing world is critical ); brevity (we like long-form writing but want it in short-form summaries); mobility (we want it anywhere, all the time). These are the same elements that go into Twitter and Vine.
He scaled his creativity into creation by getting his idea into TechCrunch, a platform that angel investors observe for possible new startups. His first investor was Li-Kashing, a Chinese billionaire. His venture capital firm, Horizons Venture saw his early work in TechCrunch. Li, or the people who worked for him, was a “wanderer” who cruised different sites looking for potential startups. Ashton Kutcher, Stephen Fry and Spotify;s Shakil Khan wandered into D'Aloisio’s world and back him as well.
Finally, Marissa Mayer, the ex-Google, now CEO of Yahoo, really scaled D'Aloisio by giving him a huge platform. Just as Google really scaled the startup YouTube, so too is Yahoo scaling Summly.
I’d like to learn more about the creative process of D'Aloisio. He learned code as a kid, according to the press. But who did he play with? Who did he bounce ideas off? Most creative people have a trusted friend, or two, where they mess around with ideas. Who is Nick’s creative buddy?
I’ve been signing a lot of books lately and it’s a warm, wonderful ritual that people find rewarding. You would think that in an age of ebooks, the actual physical act of an author signing a book that a stranger has purchased would disappear. But no–just the opposite. Signing that book, with a personal message and your unique signature, creates an intimate bond between writer and reader. People smile, laugh a little self-consciously, open the curtain of privacy with their requests and tell you stories in the brief moments of the signing. It’s immensely satisfying and meaningful.
Ritual and ceremony are critical to creativity. We recognize them in book signings as punctuating and celebrating creativity but they are important in the process of creating itself. Play is a ritual process that has rules that help lead us to surprising, new outcomes. It is a game that we can create ourselves, writing and rewriting the rules, framing and reframing the playing. These are all key creative competencies.
The research lab where a few people meet every day at the same time and “play” at science and engineering is a place of ritual. The morning meeting that we go to, where ideas are proposed and discussed and chosen, is a ritual activity.
The inkjet printer that we use so often came out of an HP lab where two researchers met daily and went through the ritual process of discovery. The most important thing Steve Jobs did as CEO was to visit nearly every day with his chief designer Jonathan Ives in Ives’ studio where they slowly walked around products and prototypes, touching, handling them, seeing how they worked, talking about them. That daily conversation was ritual. As was Jobs long walks by himself.
Rituals and ceremonies play two critical roles in creativity. They are a process that can get us to originality and new value. And they are windows into what is deeply meaningful to people. That so many people still buy physical books and want the ceremony of connecting with the author shows something significant about our culture. We demand the immediacy and ease of digital delivery but still desire the warmth and tactility of the “book.”
As an author, it’s just wonderful to be part of all of this. As an author of a book on creativity, its wonderful to participate in what you are writing about.
I once spent a drunken evening with the Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky who died mysteriously in London recently. Berezovsky had fled Russia many years ago and feared for his life during his exile. The former mathematics professor had made billions of dollars when the Soviet empire collapsed and state assets moved into private hands opaquely. I met him at the World Economic Forum in Davos, a year or two after he fled Moscow.
This is how I remember the key part of that long dinner. After many, many drinks, Berezovsky said in Russian-accented English, “"Bruce, I pay taxes to those who protect me and the government doesn’t protect me. So I pay taxes to those who can.”
Framing and Reframing are essential Creative Competencies in my book and Boris’ startling words were among the strongest to cause me to begin thinking about the concept. Why? Like everyone else, I had always thought of Russia after the fall of communism as a corrupt place where the KGB, Russian Mafia and ruthless political players ruled. That was my narrative frame of Russia after communism.
Boris presented me with a simpler yet deeper and more sophisticated story. That narrative frame for Russia was one of a power-vacuum opening with the collapse of the state and Boris, like so many other businessmen, paid protection money to whomever could provide security. He would pay taxes to the government if it could provide safety but since it couldn’t, he paid “taxes” to tough guys in and out of government who could. Nothing more, nothing less. It was a story devoid of morality or moral lessons–just practicality.
Boris’ frame of Russian business life was so startling different from mine that it always stayed with me. It informed my analysis of creativity and my book on it. Knowing the narrative frame of the people we engage is vitally important to understanding the meaning of their culture and their place in it.
“My own work is on social and political design in peacebuilding especially with creative thinkers in the national security establishment. In that work, we dance around a lot of the themes Nussbaum raises–(re)framing issues, designing new ideas and products, "pivoting” them from concept to product, and developing new, decentralized institutions in which one can most easily be creative.
What surprised me was the almost complete overlap between the specific projects and products Nussbaum raises and the challenges we face in Washington, where creativity has all but disappeared.“”—
Chip Haus, Alliance for Peacebuilding.
I was in the same Political Science program at the University of Michigan with Chip. Thanks to the of Amazon and my new book, we have connected after many a decade. Check out his work:
I just heard that one of the top book publishers in China, Citic Press, will publish my book, Creative Intelligence. And they are paying a global rate for the book, which is significant for both me and IP. As an author, I don’t have to worry about knockoffs. And it appears that China is beginning to honor the concept of valuing creativity by paying for IP. This is good news, especially for the Chinese who themselves are increasingly generating innovation and their own IP.
It’s fascinating to see that it is Asia–Taiwan and now China–that is moving first to translate Creative Intelligence. What does that tell you?
I’m very happy that the book is going with Citic. It’s the publisher that brought Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs to China.
Noam Chomsky in the Financial Times March 17 Weekend edition (my favorite airline read),
I’m flying to Seattle to speak at Microsoft about my book, Creative Intelligence.
Last week I spoke at Google in NYC.
Keith Sawyer, the author of Group Genius, has another great book out–Zig Zag: The Surprising Path to Creativity. Keith is a giant in the field of creativity research. His Group Genius blew up the notion that brainstorming led to more creativity.
Zig Zag will show you how creativity happens.
Check out his book site:
Buy the book here:
I’m about to start the second unit of my Creativity and Capitalism course at Parsons which will focus on ritual and play as the paths to understanding the existential and the deep meaning of cultures.
For the business folks, we will focus on Branding and how the successful brand succeeds in mining the existential–how it succeeds in understanding and representing what is meaningful to the culture of its audience.
Its not about satisfying needs or even wants. A great brand speaks to the higher order desires of people. No focus group or marketing research can get to these higher order desires of people because they are usually tacit and unexpressed–yet real and meaningful.
So we read the following together and talk about stuff:
Readings Unit Two:
for March 18:
Lewis Hyde “The Bones of the Dead” from The Gift
David Foster Wallace “Federer as Religious Experience”
following, in yet-to-be-determined order:
Dreyfus and Kelly, “Our Contemporary Nihilism” from All Things Shining
Dreyfus, “Heidegger on the Connection between Nihilism, Art, Technology and Politics”
Barthes, Selections from Mythologies
Cowbird, especially the Pine Ridge Community Storytelling Project
to be read in prep for April 1st (Annie Correal guest)
Vygotsky, “The Role of Play in Development”
Dreams are a powerful economic force, perhaps the most powerful. Understanding and harnessing them can drive creativity, economic growth and profits.
Dreams, of course, are also a powerful social and political force. Understanding and harnessing them can transform a culture and make it better.
Check out these videos from the Dream:In conference in India in 2011. Since then, Dream:In has occurred in Brazil and will soon be in China.
Ask people what they need and they’ll give you a list of 10 or 20 things. The list will change from morning to night, from day to day. Ask people what they dream of, and they tell you one or two things that will never change. In India, people often dream of education, women’s rights, serving the nation and starting a business.
I talk about The Dream:In initiative on page 75 of my book. It is one of my favorite sections. Change your frame about Social Innovation and helping people. Check out Dream:In.
Look at this ad for the SuperBowl of 1984 and ask yourself–what should the woman be smashing today?
Why are some of the smartest, edgiest and coolest among us disconnecting from social media? What is the deep cultural meaning of this disconnect? What are they trying to connect TO?
Knowledge Mining, Framing, Connecting the Dots and Scaling are key creative competencies. In using them, we can begin to see the patterns. We can begin to see WHAT’S NOT THERE that’s supposed to be there. And then ask why.
Know the answer to the woman throwing the anvil and you could know how to make billions tomorrow. Or do something even more meaningful.
I am so happy to be moderating a great panel on Social Innovation tonight at 6PM at Parsons. Finalists for the New Challenge contest will get their awards and I will have a great conversation with Cheryl Dorsey, President of Echoing Green, Sasha Dichter, Chief Innovation Officer of the Acumen Fund and Jeremy Heimans, co-founder of Purpose.
Social Innovation has moved from the periphery to the core of our conversations about economics, capitalism, social justice, design and doing good. Social Innovation is hot on the campuses of design and art schools as well as business schools. Now, how crazy is that? Something deep is happening.
I have two great examples of Social Innovation in Creative Intelligence, both in India. One story is about Paul Polak and his drive to bring clean drinking water to Orissa villages. He used what I call Donut Thinking–see what is NOT there– to solve the problem (hint, its not the scarcity of water but of “clean.”
Paul worked with IDIOM, the top innovation consultancy in India, to design the project and Acumen invested in the new company, Spring Health. Paul hopes it will grow to a $1 billion company, employing thousands of people in India, most of them in their own villages.Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0062088424?ie=UTF8%20&tag=harpercollinsus-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0062088424
I have a piece in the Wall Street Journal that shows how employees in large corporations can reframe their jobs and careers by getting more creative. It offers up 10 specific ways for people to increase their value to their employers–and to themselves.
Check out the entire WSJ piece here:
Here are: 10 Fast Ways to Boost Your Creative Intelligence
1) Find a creative friend. The social aspect of creativity cannot be underestimated. Spending time with creative peers can boost your energy and help you identify your own creative skills.
2) Map your creativity. Keep a daily journal about the places and activities that inspire you. Add something new one every month. Just changing the way you go to work every day can help.
3) Go for a long walk–or run or bike ride. Give yourself “zone-out” time to let your mind integrate all the new ideas you’re taking in. Creativity is social but still requires “alone time” too.
4) Conduct a “creativity audit.” Take a weekend to think about the knowledge and skills you have that you might be underutilizing. Dive deep into yourself. Bring a close friend to help.
5) Play the “reframe game.” Is your business or industry stagnating? Change the conventional wisdom about the way things have always been done and create something entirely new by connecting two previously unrelated ideas.
6) Find a wanderer. In their heyday, the labs at HP were hugely creative thanks to the founders’ policy of “managing by wandering around.” They choose promising research and championed it. Seek out the person at your organization who can help you bring your ideas into the world.
7) Become a wanderer. Find out what your colleagues and employees are thinking about and ask yourself: how can you help support their ideas? Can you become the person who makes things happen, whether by partnering with them or hooking them up with the right people?External image
8) Slow down. The rise in social media has left many of us longing for deeper, more meaningful experiences and engagements. There is an increasing need for people and organizations who can devise ways to help people simplify their lives.
9) Venture past the possible. We are often so accustomed to seeing things in a certain way that we’re blind to the possibility of something we can’t yet imagine. Set aside time each week to think about why things are the way they are, and imagine them differently.
10) Embrace uncertainty . There is so much change in our lives and in our work that it scares us, even paralyzes us. Yet uncertainty offers the greatest opportunities. With the right creative skills, you can make uncertainty a place of discovery for you.
This Wednesday, I’ll be talking about Tapping Imagination and Creativity at The Times Center to an audience facing disruptive change in their industry–the vision folks. Google Glass, Warby Parker are transforming all the players in vision, from fashionable eyeglass frame purveyors to medical providers.
The Five Creative Competencies of my book, Creative Intelligence, can provide a path to a better future.
It’s a sold-out audience. Check it out.
I talk about how creativity generates economic value for business in this interview. And I reveal which business book I am reading now. Hint: Roger Martin is co-author with one of my favorite former CEOs.
http://blog.800ceoread.com/2013/03/07/tir-bruce-nussbaum-on-business-books/Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0062088424?ie=UTF8%20&tag=harpercollinsus-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789 &creative=9325&creativeASIN=0062088424 B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/creative-intelligence-bruce-nussbaum/1112757030?ean=9780062088420&cm_ mmc=AFFILIATES-_-Linkshare-_-MdXm68JZJz8-_-10%3a1&r=1&
I’m not kidding about that. Take a look at what I write in my book:
Researchers at Cornell University, University of Pennsylvania, and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, showed that in a test, participants “demonstrated a negative bias toward creativity ….when participants experienced uncertainty.” Worse, “the bias against creativity interfered with participants’ ability to recognize a creative idea.” People tend to choose what they know in the face of uncertainty even though they realize it probably won’t help them. It is just familiar. And what words did the participants associate creativity with? “Agony.” “Poison.” And my favorite—“Vomit.” So, yes, creativity scares us. And it doesn’t have to.
So we need to get beyond this creativity anxiety and build up our creative capacities. Here’s the interview I did with Thinker-In-Residence. It talks about the 5 Creative Competencies of CQ–Creative Intelligence and how we can learn to enjoy being creative instead of …
Dan Pink’s new book, To Sell is Human, is on all the best-seller lists. It’s terrific. I noticed a while back that nearly all my students at Parsons are incredible performers. They can switch on a stage persona that "sells" whatever they are pitching at that moment. They grew up with participative video, they don’t just watch but act. Fits right into what Dan is talking about in his book.
Dan did a Q & A with me for his blog site. Here it is.
Here’s the part about “Donut Thinking."
It took me about 10 years to become a decent birder. Birding is all about seeing the “odd duck.” You spend years in the field training to look for what’s NOT there. In Singapore four years ago, I saw a black swan. It didn’t surprise me. I was looked for what didn’t fit the pattern. That’s what “Donut Knowledge” or “Donut Thinking” is about. You spend the time to learn the patterns and then you train yourself to look for what doesn’t fit.”
And then you can reframe your narrative and decide where to go next.
Here is a great interview on America’s innovation shortfall-and what to do about it? What should be America’s National Innovation Policy?
I talk about shifting R&D away from bioscience to making, materials and manufacturing. “We need to become makers again."
"Bring back shop.”
“Art and shop should be central to education."
"Memorization in an age of Search is ludicrous.”
“I would make David Kelley, who is the founder of the D-School and IDEO, the head of the Department of Education.”
And we need to bring a lot more entrepreneurs and startup people to Washington. Wall Street and big business dominate Washington.
We need to be more creative about student debt.
On Thursday at around 4PM, I’ll be talking to the designers at Frog in their great Chelsea digs about the ideas in my book, Creative Intelligence. It will be cool since the founder of Frog, Hartmut Esslinger, was the first designer I put on a Business Week cover back in 1990. I can’t find an image of that cover anywhere. There’s Hartmut, fresh from giving Apple its first design language, in leathers, straddling a big motorcycle. Readers loved it.
I hear there’s an image this cover hanging on the wall of Frog in San Francisco. If so, send it to me. I’ll put it up.
I’ll be talking “Old Model” vs “New Model” at Frog, throwing out my new creative competencies of Knowledge Mining, Framing, Playing, Making and Pivoting to the pros to see how their clients can use the new ideas. Very casual and fun. I have a weird Keynote presentation that I may or may not show, depending on the vibe. It has clip of Zero Dark Thirty, which shows how the CIA analyst, Maya, used Creative Intelligence to get Osama.
Did you know that the CIA has long been involved in creativity research?
Framing your engagements with people, especially in social media, is one of the key Creative Competencies of Creative Intelligence. It’s amazing for me to see it happen live on Amazon, where your numbers rise and fall as people decide to engage you via your book. I guess there’s not much more intimate–or transparent–than this ritual of committing to you and your ideas.
This morning, the ebook edition of Creative Intelligence is up to #24 in the Biz & Investing category.
It’s above Nassim Taleb, #26 who wrote The Black Swan (I show people how to train to spot Black Swans in the book and call it “Donut Thinking”–looking for the hole in the donut). Jim Collins, the Good To Great guru, is #27.
Creative Intelligence is just below the remarkable Clayton Christensen, #22, whose Innovator’s Dilemma, launched the conversation about innovation.
The 5 Creative Competencies of the book–Knowledge Mining, Framing, Playing, Making and Pivoting take that conversation forward.
OK, maybe it was a coincidence that yesterday, the day my book, Creative Intelligence, was officially launched, the stock market hit a new high. Or maybe not. The optimism that is at the heart of Creative Intelligence is returning to America after five long years of gloom.
Creativity is about discovery, opportunity and generating new value, often new economic value. Creative Intelligence shows us how to cultivate our creativity. For startups and big businesses, the book offers specific ways to boost your creative capacity.
So check out this great Q&A from Time Busines & Money that really captures what the book has to offer. “First there was IQ. Then EQ. But Does CQ–Creative Intelligence–Matter Most?”
After nearly two years of research and writing, my book Creative Intelligence is officially launched today. I believe the book contains specific things people can do today and tomorrow to help them reduce their Creativity Anxiety and to build up their Creative Capacities. It provides specific ways businesses can become more innovative tomorrow.
Thanks to all of you who preordered the book. Creative Intelligence is already trending strongly on Amazon.
It’s trending # 5 on Amazon in the category of Creativity and Genius for ebooks.
And # 5 for Cognitive Science in ebooks.
Creative Intelligence is trending # 18 on Amazon in Business Decision-Making and Problem-Solving for hardcover books.
Tuesday, March 5, is the official launch date of my book, Creative Intelligence. Those of you who preordered the book should get it in the mail on Tuesday. I preordered a book for my mom in Florida. And the ebook, of course, should be available as well. I’m getting one of those too, of course,
Thanks everyone for the early support. Amplifying our creativity is so important in this era of VUCA– Volatility, Uncertainty, Chaos and Ambiguity. The book contains stories, skills, ideas on leading a creative life and management lessons to build more creative businesses.
Spread the word please.
This is in my Knowledge Mining chapter. Mapping your organizations formal and informal networks is the first step in knowing the sources of creativity in your organization.
Creativity is a lateral move. You are at connecting dots. Linking different existing ideas is the greatest source of innovation. That “aha” moment people talk about comes after you make new connections. So how do you go about connecting different dots?
In my book I write: “You’re not born with a great ability to connect dots. You learn it.” OK. But how? First, recognize that dot of knowledge your anchor dot. Then cast out from that to link to something else. I write: “Casting wide can land you in the strangest of places, but having some kind of anchor–a puzzle you’re trying to solve, a product or process you’re trying to improve–can help you…We don’t always know what connections will work best, what synthesis of two ideas will be the most effective. That’s why its important to keep an open mind to what your casting may bring back. You may have to relearn the joy of surprise.”
James Dyson found the answer to a new vacuum cleaner in a saw mill. He completely reframed the cleaning process by watching how saw mills cleaned up sawdust.
I went back to the June 2006 cover of IN: Inside Innovation, a quarterly supplement I founded at BusinessWeek to look at Marissa Mayer’s 9 Notions of Innovation. The subtitle was "Marissa Mayer, The Talent Scout.“ Mayer has Stanford U degrees in symbolic systems and computer science and patents in Artificial Intelligence. She was the first female engineer at Google, its #20 hire and took charge of search products and the user experience.
Here are her "9 Notions of Innovation:
1-Ideas comes from everywhere. Google expects everyone to innovate, even the finance team
2- Share everything you can. Every idea, every project, every deadline–it’s all accessible to everyone on the internet
3- You’re brilliant, we’re hiring. Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin approve hires. They favor intelligence over experience.
4- A license to pursue dreams. Employees get a "free” day a week. Half of new launches come from this “20% time.”
5- Innovation, not instant perfection. Google launches early and often in small beta tests, before releasing new features widely.
6- Don’t politic, use data. Mayer discourages the use of “I like” in meetings, pushing staffers to use metrics.
7- Creativity loves restraint. Give people a vision, rules about how to get there, and deadlines.
8- Worry about usage and users, not money. Provide something simple to use and easy to love. The money will follow.
9- Don’t kill projects–morph them. There’s always a kernel of something good that can be salvaged.“
The controversy surrounding Mayer’s decision to end remote working and have everyone be physically present in the office is reflected in these notions of how you generate innovation. It is a very Silicon Valley, techie model of brilliant engineers coming up with new techie functions that are then tossed out into the world to see if there is an audience for them. It often works. It more often fails.
There is a much better way–understand what is culturally meaningful to people and THEN generate the innovation that satisfies their aspirations. Or do both simultaneously and have engineers and designers work together to design new products and services.
Either way, what Google and Yahoo need right now is to get the cultural meaning part right. They need to move beyond the engineer-centric reliance on numbers and data to tell them about the world and get into the world itself to understand it. They might find that the employees staying home and raising their children have important ideas for the products and services that are meaningful to millions of people.
I talk about Knowledge Mining and Framing in Creative Intelligence. It just may be that Mayer and her old bosses at Google need to rely less on the "best” intelligence of their engineers and more on the creative intelligence of people who embody the lives of their customers. Then they could reframe who and how they employ and what they actually offer up in the marketplace.
I did a cover story on Marissa Mayer in 2006 for IN: Inside Innovation and spent time with her. She was many things at Google, but her most important role was as a designer. There was pressure from Google’s engineers to put all the functions they could dream up on that page but Mayer kept Google’s engagement with its audience simple, clean and clear. It beckoned us to use it. Google’s search page had aura and still does.
Mayer’s other big role was innovation. She did much of the hiring and shaped much of the way innovation happened at Google. Mayer knows that creativity is social. Creativity comes out of the interplay of people and ideas. Which is why, as head of Yahoo, she wants everyone to be physically present.
But simply “being there” may not be the kind of social interaction that generates the creativity Mayer seeks. I write in Creative Intelligence that “As much as we love stories about serendipity,” seeking out the right people may be as important, if not more so, than accidentally bumping into them. It’s very hard to play with strangers that you can’t trust.“
Creativity tends to flow out of small teams of people who trust each other and know how to play with one another to puzzle out new challenges. They also tend share deep knowledge of specific fields. I believe that this is the "magic circle” that generates the best creativity.
And if that is true, then it just might be possible to use the great new videoconferencing technologies like HALO and Telepresence to bring these small teams together wherever they are, including home. I’ve personally used them and you can talk to people anywhere and its like chatting across the table. They are emotionally powerful.
Cisco is putting Telepresence into apartments in Korea. Yahoo should consider putting them into the apartments and houses of those potential creators who are now working at home. If serendipity isn’t all that its cracked up to be and sociability is the key to creativity, then you just might be able to build those magic circles with people tending to their kids at home.