Tag Archives: Creativity

AI and Human Creativity Solving Complex Problems Together

AI and Human Creativity Solving Complex Problems Together

GUEST POST from Janet Sernack

A recent McKinsey Leading Off – Essentials for leaders and those they lead email newsletter, referred to an article “The organization of the future: Enabled by gen AI, driven by people” which stated that digitization, automation, and AI will reshape whole industries and every enterprise. The article elaborated further by saying that, in terms of magnitude, the challenge is akin to coping with the large-scale shift from agricultural work to manufacturing that occurred in the early 20th century in North America and Europe, and more recently in China. This shift was powered by the defining trait of our species, our human creativity, which is at the heart of all creative problem-solving endeavors, where innovation is the engine of growth, no matter, what the context.

Moving into Unchartered Job and Skills Territory

We don’t yet know what exact technological, or soft skills, new occupations, or jobs will be required in this fast-moving transformation, or how we might further advance generative AI, digitization, and automation.

We also don’t know how AI will impact the need for humans to tap even more into the defining trait of our species, our human creativity. To enable us to become more imaginative, curious, and creative in the way we solve some of the world’s greatest challenges and most complex and pressing problems, and transform them into innovative solutions.

We can be proactive by asking these two generative questions:

  • What if the true potential of AI lies in embracing its ability to augment human creativity and aid innovation, especially in enhancing creative problem solving, at all levels of civil society, instead of avoiding it? (Ideascale)
  • How might we develop AI as a creative thinking partner to effect profound change, and create innovative solutions that help us build a more equitable and sustainable planet for all humanity? (Hal Gregersen)

Because our human creativity is at the heart of creative problem-solving, and innovation is the engine of growth, competitiveness, and profound and positive change.

Developing a Co-Creative Thinking Partnership

In a recent article in the Harvard Business Review “AI Can Help You Ask Better Questions – and Solve Bigger Problems” by Hal Gregersen and Nicola Morini Bianzino, they state:

“Artificial intelligence may be superhuman in some ways, but it also has considerable weaknesses. For starters, the technology is fundamentally backward-looking, trained on yesterday’s data – and the future might not look anything like the past. What’s more, inaccurate or otherwise flawed training data (for instance, data skewed by inherent biases) produces poor outcomes.”

The authors say that dealing with this issue requires people to manage this limitation if they are going to treat AI as a creative-thinking partner in solving complex problems, that enable people to live healthy and happy lives and to co-create an equitable and sustainable planet.

We can achieve this by focusing on specific areas where the human brain and machines might possibly complement one another to co-create the systemic changes the world badly needs through creative problem-solving.

  • A double-edged sword

This perspective is further complimented by a recent Boston Consulting Group article  “How people can create-and destroy value- with generative AI” where they found that the adoption of generative AI is, in fact, a double-edged sword.

In an experiment, participants using GPT-4 for creative product innovation outperformed the control group (those who completed the task without using GPT-4) by 40%. But for business problem solving, using GPT-4 resulted in performance that was 23% lower than that of the control group.

“Perhaps somewhat counterintuitively, current GenAI models tend to do better on the first type of task; it is easier for LLMs to come up with creative, novel, or useful ideas based on the vast amounts of data on which they have been trained. Where there’s more room for error is when LLMs are asked to weigh nuanced qualitative and quantitative data to answer a complex question. Given this shortcoming, we as researchers knew that GPT-4 was likely to mislead participants if they relied completely on the tool, and not also on their own judgment, to arrive at the solution to the business problem-solving task (this task had a “right” answer)”.

  • Taking the path of least resistance

In McKinsey’s Top Ten Reports This Quarter blog, seven out of the ten articles relate specifically to generative AI: technology trends, state of AI, future of work, future of AI, the new AI playbook, questions to ask about AI and healthcare and AI.

As it is the most dominant topic across the board globally, if we are not both vigilant and intentional, a myopic focus on this one significant technology will take us all down the path of least resistance – where our energy will move to where it is easiest to go.  Rather than being like a river, which takes the path of least resistance to its surrounding terrain, and not by taking a strategic and systemic perspective, we will always go, and end up, where we have always gone.

  • Living our lives forwards

According to the Boston Consulting Group article:

“The primary locus of human-driven value creation lies not in enhancing generative AI where it is already great, but in focusing on tasks beyond the frontier of the technology’s core competencies.”

This means that a whole lot of other variables need to be at play, and a newly emerging set of human skills, especially in creative problem solving, need to be developed to maximize the most value from generative AI, to generate the most imaginative, novel and value adding landing strips of the future.

Creative Problem Solving

In my previous blog posts “Imagination versus Knowledge” and “Why Successful Innovators Are Curious Like Cats” we shared that we are in the midst of a “Sputnik Moment” where we have the opportunity to advance our human creativity.

This human creativity is inside all of us, it involves the process of bringing something new into being, that is original, surprising useful, or desirable, in ways that add value to the quality of people’s lives, in ways they appreciate and cherish.

  • Taking a both/and approach

Our human creativity will be paralysed, if we focus our attention and intention only on the technology, and on the financial gains or potential profits we will get from it, and if we exclude the possibilities of a co-creative thinking partnership with the technology.

To deeply engage people in true creative problem solving – and involving them in impacting positively on our crucial relationships and connectedness, with one another and with the natural world, and the planet.

  • A marriage between creatives, technologists, and humanities

In a recent Fast Company video presentation, “Innovating Imagination: How Airbnb Is Using AI to Foster Creativity” Brian Chesky CEO of Airbnb, states that we need to consider and focus our attention and intention on discovering what is good for people.

To develop a “marriage between creatives, technologists, and the humanities” that brings the human out and doesn’t let technology overtake our human element.

Developing Creative Problem-Solving Skills

At ImagineNation, we teach, mentor, and coach clients in creative problem-solving, through developing their Generative Discovery skills.

This involves developing an open and active mind and heart, by becoming flexible, adaptive, and playful in the ways we engage and focus our human creativity in the four stages of creative problem-solving.

Including sensing, perceiving, and enabling people to deeply listen, inquire, question, and debate from the edges of temporarily hidden or emerging fields of the future.

To know how to emerge, diverge, and converge creative insights, collective breakthroughs, an ideation process, and cognitive and emotional agility shifts to:

  • Deepen our attending, observing, and discerning capabilities to consciously connect with, explore, and discover possibilities that create tension and cognitive dissonance to disrupt and challenge the status quo, and other conventional thinking and feeling processes.
  • Create cracks, openings, and creative thresholds by asking generative questions to push the boundaries, and challenge assumptions and mental and emotional models to pull people towards evoking, provoking, and generating boldly creative ideas.
  • Unleash possibilities, and opportunities for creative problem solving to contribute towards generating innovative solutions to complex problems, and pressing challenges, that may not have been previously imagined.

Experimenting with the generative discovery skill set enables us to juggle multiple theories, models, and strategies to create and plan in an emergent, and non-linear way through creative problem-solving.

As stated by Hal Gregersen:

“Partnering with the technology in this way can help people ask smarter questions, making them better problem solvers and breakthrough innovators.”

Succeeding in the Age of AI

We know that Generative AI will change much of what we do and how we do it, in ways that we cannot yet anticipate.

Success in the age of AI will largely depend on our ability to learn and change faster than we ever have before, in ways that preserve our well-being, connectedness, imagination, curiosity, human creativity, and our collective humanity through partnering with generative AI in the creative problem-solving process.

Find Out More About Our Work at ImagineNation™

Find out about our collective, learning products and tools, including The Coach for Innovators, Leaders, and Teams Certified Program, presented by Janet Sernack, is a collaborative, intimate, and deeply personalized innovation coaching and learning program, supported by a global group of peers over 9-weeks, which can be customised as a bespoke corporate learning program.

It is a blended and transformational change and learning program that will give you a deep understanding of the language, principles, and applications of an ecosystem focus, human-centric approach, and emergent structure (Theory U) to innovation, and upskill people and teams and develop their future fitness, within your unique innovation context. Find out more about our products and tools.

Image Credit: Pixabay

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A New Innovation Sphere

A New Innovation Sphere

GUEST POST from Pete Foley

I’m obsessed with the newly opened Sphere in Las Vegas as an example of Innovation.   As I write this, U2 are preparing for their second show there, and Vegas is buzzing about the new innovation they are performing in.  That in of itself is quite something.  Vegas is a city that is nor short of entertainment and visual spectacle, so for an innovation to capture the collective imagination in this way it has to be genuinely Wow.  And that ‘Wow’ means there are opportunities for the innovation community to learn from it. 

For those of you who might have missed it, The Sphere is an approximately 20,000 seat auditorium with razor sharp cutting edge multisensory capabilities that include a 16K resolution wraparound interior LED screen, speakers with beamforming and wave field synthesis technology, and 4D haptic physical effects built into the seats. The exterior of the 366 foot high building features 580,000 sq ft of LED displays which have transformed the already ostentatious Las Vegas skyline. Images including a giant eye, moon, earth, smiley face, Halloween pumpkin and various underwater scenes and geometric animations light up the sky, together with advertisements that are rumored to cost almost $500,000 per day.  Together with giant drone displays and giant LED displays on adjacent casinos mean that Bladerunner has truly come to Vegas. But these descriptions simply don’t do it justice, you really, really have to see it. 

Las Vegas U2 Residency at the Sphere

Master of Attention – Leveraging Visual Science to the Full:  The outside is a brilliant example of visual marketing that leverages just about every insight possible for grabbing attention. It’s scale is simply ‘Wow!’, and you can see it from the mountains surrounding Vegas, or from the plane as you come into land.   The content it displays on its outside is brilliantly designed to capture attention. It has the fundamental visual cues of movement, color, luminescence, contrast and scale, but these are all turned up to 11, maybe even 12.  This alone pretty much compels attention, even in a city whose skyline is already replete with all of these.  When designing for visual attention, I often invoke the ‘Times Square analogy’.  When trying to grab attention in a visually crowded context, signal to noise is your friend, and a simple, ‘less is more’ design can stand out against a background context of intense, complex visual noise.  But the Sphere has instead leapt s-curves, and has instead leveraged new technology to be brighter, bigger, more colorful and create an order of magnitude more movement than its surroundings.  It visually shouts above the surrounding visual noise, and has created genuine separation, at least for now. 

But it also leverages many other elements that we know command attention.  It uses faces, eyes, and natural cues that tap into our unconscious cognitive attentional architecture.  The giant eye, giant pumpkin and giant smiley face tap these attentional mechanisms, but in a playful way.  The orange and black of the pumpkin or the yellow and black of the smiley face tap into implicit biomimetic ‘danger’ clues, but in a way that resolves instantly to turn attention from avoid to approach.  The giant jellyfish and whales floating above the strip tap into our attentional priority mechanisms for natural cues.  And of course, it all fits the surprisingly obvious cognitive structure that creates ‘Wow!’.  A giant smiley emoji floating above the Vegas skyline is initially surprising, but also pretty obvious once you realize it is the sphere! 

And this is of course a dynamic display, that once it captures your attention, then advertises the upcoming U2 show or other paid advertising.  As I mentioned before, that advertising does not come cheap, but it does come with pretty much guaranteed engagement.  You really do need to see it for yourself if you can, but I’ve also captured some video here:

The Real Innovation Magic: The outside of The Sphere is stunning, but the inside goes even further, and provides a new and disruptive technology platform that opens the door for all sorts of creativity and innovation in entertainment and beyond. The potential to leverage the super-additive power of multi-sensory combinations to command attention and emotion is staggering.

The opening act was U2, and the show has received mostly positive but also mixed reviews. Everyone raves about the staggering visual effects, the sound quality, and the spectacle. But others do point out that the band itself gets somewhat lost, and/or is overshadowed by the new technology.

But this is just the beginning.   The technology platform is truly disruptive innovation that will open the door for all sorts of innovation and creativity. It fundamentally challenges the ‘givens’ of what a concert is. The U2 show is still based on and marketed as the band being the ‘star’ of the show. But the Sphere is an unprecedented immersive multimedia experience that can and likely will change that completely, making the venue the star itself. The potential for great musicians, visual and multisensory artist to create unprecedented customer experience is enormous.  Artists from Gaga to Muse, or their successors must be salivating at the potential to bring until now impossible visions to life, and deliver multi-sensory experience to audiences on a scale not previously imagined. Disruptive innovation often emerges at the interface of previous expertise, and the potential for hybrid sensory experiences that the Sphere offer are unprecedented. Imagine visuals created and inspired by the Webb telescope accompanied by an orchestra that sonically surrounds the audience in ways they’ve never experienced or perhaps imagined. And of course, new technology will challenge new creative’s to leverage it in ways we haven’t yet imagined.  Cawsie Jijina, the engineer who designed the Sphere maybe says it best:

You have the best audio there possibly can be today. You have the best visual there can possible be today. Now you just have to wait and let some artist meet some batshit crazy engineer and techie and create something totally new.” 

This technology platform will stimulate emergent blends of creative innovation that will challenge our expectations of what a show is.  It will likely require both creative’s and audiences to give up on some pre-conceptions. But I love to see a new technology emerge in front of my eyes. We ain’t seen nothing yet. 

Las Vegas Sphere Halloween

Image credits: Pete Foley

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Why Successful Innovators Are Curious Like Cats

Why Successful Innovators Are Curious Like Cats

GUEST POST from Janet Sernack

In our previous blog, we shared how consciousness, imagination, and curiosity are the fundamental precursors to creativity, invention, and innovation. Where consciousness encapsulates our states and qualities of mind, our capacity for imagination and curiosity are the necessary states of mind that stimulate creativity, all of which propel successful innovators to bring the new to the world differently.

Yet, according to a recent article by the Singularity Hub “OpenAI’s GPT-4 Scores in the Top 1% of Creative Thinking”:

“Of all the forms of human intellect that one might expect artificial intelligence to emulate, few people would likely place creativity at the top of their list. Creativity is wonderfully mysterious—and frustratingly fleeting. It defines us as human beings—and seemingly defies the cold logic that lies behind the silicon curtain of machines.”

We have a “Sputnik moment” to further our creative abilities

Revealing that their recent study into the striking originality of AI is an indication, that AI-based creativity – along with examples of both its promise and peril – is likely just beginning.

“The creative abilities now realized by AI may provide a “Sputnik moment” for educators and others interested in furthering human creative abilities, including those who see creativity as an essential condition of individual, social, and economic growth”.

  • What if we, as humans, could compete with, and perhaps even complement, AI-based creativity and become successful innovators?
  • How might we spark our imagination and curiosity to gain new knowledge that reduces ignorance and sustains our relevance to benefit all of humanity?

How does this link to cats – successful innovators are like cats!

As an animal lover, and the second servant to two sublime household pet cats, I have always wondered why our cats are so curious, always exploring and getting into everything, and yet are also well known for having at least nine lives.

This, in many ways, is a similar experience of many successful innovators, who apply their capacity for imagination and curiosity to explore and navigate the edges of the system and wander into wonder into surprising states of boundarylessness.

In a LinkedIn blog, David Miller shares that:

“Leonardo Da Vinci taught us that curiosity is the basis for creativity and innovation. The more relentless our curiosity, the more likely we will be innovative and creative, and possibly one step closer to perfection. If we want to build innovative organizations, we should start by creating curious organizations which nurture and enhance the curiosity of people”.

  • Exploration and discovery

According to a post in Quora, “Why are cats so curious” the common saying that “curiosity killed the cat,” is not entirely accurate and states that:

“Cats are naturally curious animals, who also have a strong survival instinct that helps them avoid dangerous situations. Humans, on the other hand, have evolved to have a powerful curiosity that drives them to explore and discover new things”.

  • Imagination and curiosity

Suggesting that intentionally applying our imagination and curiosity, potentially enables us humans to become successful innovators, who can both survive and thrive, in today’s globally hyperconnected, constantly uncertain and continuously changing VUCA/BANI world, in ways that benefit all of humanity.

Where we have an opportunity to focus and harness our imagination and curiosity toward becoming successful innovators who cultivate and exploit their curiosity as a radical force.

Curiosity as a radical force for unforeseen bonuses

According to the author, Philip Ball in his book Curiosity – How Science Became Interested in Everything curiosity is a radical force, introduced in the mid-sixteenth century, fuelled within scientists and philosophers with a compulsion to understand why and how.

Enabling curiosity to become the engine that drives both knowledge and power, reduces ignorance and has become a source of “unforeseen practical bonuses” in all of the sciences, and innovations, since then.

Curiosity and creativity spur innovation

Curiosity is derived from the Latin “cura” which means to care. In a sense, this potentially makes successful innovators and innovative entrepreneurs “curators” of curiosities and strangeness.

Richard Freyman, in an article on curiosity, in the FS blog, states that curiosity has to:

“Do with people wondering what makes something do something. And then to discover, if you try to get answers, that they are related to each other – that thing that makes the wind make the waves, that the motion of water is like the motion of air is like the motion of sand. The fact that things have common features. It turns out more and more universal. What we are looking for is how everything works. What makes everything work”.

Someone who evokes and cares for what exists now and for what could exist possibly exists in the future by:

  • Demonstrating the mental acuity, fitness, and readiness to find the peculiar and the unusual in what surrounds them, and an ability to break up familiarities and seek new associations and unlikely connections,
  • Disregarding convention and traditional hierarchies, and allowing their minds to wander into spaces that are unknown, invisible, and intangible,
  • Harnessing their attention and patience to evoke, provoke, incubate, and generate deep and bold questions that they listen to, to result in profound* insights.

What can successful innovators learn from cats?

A recent blog post, Why Are Cats So Curious? The Science Behind Cat Curiosity, explains that a cat’s insatiable curiosity develops as a result of its survival instinct. Cats have mental acuity and fitness, because like successful innovators, they are:

  • Incredibly intelligent, and have the ability to learn from experience and remember it for years.
  • Opportunistic creatures, and are always on the lookout for a chance to explore their environments.
  • Attentive and observant, and have a heightened sense of awareness and constantly observe their surroundings, and listen deeply, to attend to, and discover any new, or missing objects or movements in their environment.
  • Always on the move, and are driven by their need for constant exploration and mental stimulation.
  • Protective in investigating any potential threats to their own and others close to them.

How to cultivate your curiosity like Leonardo De Vinci

The creative brain balances intense focus with relaxed states like daydreaming and the time and space for mind wondering and wandering. Doing this activates both our imagination and curiosity and guides any problem-solving efforts with emergent, divergent, and convergent breakthrough ideas and illuminating insights.

  1. Active minds, and are always asking powerful questions and searching for answers in their minds, through mind wandering and mind wondering in expectation and anticipation of new ideas and increased knowledge related to their questions.

They are grounded, mindful, and attentive in observing and recognizing ideas when they emerge.

Be a successful innovator like Da Vinci ask bold and difficult questions, listen deeply, and use the answers to develop your knowledge, and to inform your creative ideas for invention and innovation:

  • How can I see this situation with fresh eyes?
  1. Open minds, and come from not knowing, are always searching, sensing, and discovering new worlds and possibilities that are normally not visible, in that they are often hidden behind or below the surface of normal life.

They are open to sensing, perceiving, and illuminating possibilities to crystalize new ideas.

Be a successful innovator, like Da Vinci, and keep notebooks and a daily journal by retreating, reflecting, and recording your time mind wandering and wondering in your search for insights and answers to things you don’t yet understand.

  • What might I be assuming about……?
  1. Flexibility, adaptability, provocation and playfulness, and challenging routines, seek excitement, new adventures, and a variety of things that attract attention, increase knowledge and play, and search for a more meaningful life.

They seek learning as a fun way of expanding and applying both knowledge and imagination, as a mechanism for co-creating ideas, staying relevant, and being informed and innovating in ways that illuminate people’s hearts and minds towards effecting positive change.

Be a successful innovator, like Da Vinci and ask provocative and disruptive questions, such as: “Why do shells exist on top of mountains, why is lightning visible immediately, but the sound of thunder takes longer to travel? How does a bird sustain itself up in the air”?

  • What am I missing? What matters most?

Increasing our knowledge for the benefit of humanity

Like cats, and like Albert Einstein, we can apply our imagination and curiosity and become successful innovators who explore and navigate the edges of the system, wander into wonder and surprising states of boundarylessness, in ways that benefit all of humanity, and make cultivating and harness your imagination and curiosity a daily habit:

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day.” – Life Magazine 1955

Find out about our collective, learning products and tools, including The Coach for Innovators, Leaders, and Teams Certified Program, presented by Janet Sernack, is a collaborative, intimate, and deeply personalized innovation coaching and learning program, supported by a global group of peers over 9-weeks, starting October 3, 2023.

It is a blended and transformational change and learning program that will give you a deep understanding of the language, principles, and applications of an ecosystem focus, human-centric approach, and emergent structure (Theory U) to innovation, and upskill people and teams and develop their future fitness, within your unique innovation context. Find out more about our products and tools.

Image Credit: Pixabay

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Imagination versus Knowledge

Is imagination really more important?

Imagination versus Knowledge

GUEST POST from Janet Sernack

Is imagination really more important than knowledge? How does imagination link to catalyzing collective innovation and unleashing corporate vitality?

When I did my research, I discovered that the answer is actually paradoxical!

Albert Einstein famously said “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.

Why is the answer so paradoxical?

According to a well-researched and scientific article “Einstein’s most famous quote is totally misunderstood” in BIGTHINK magazine, the author suggests that he’s really doing is encouraging people to look beyond the current, conservative frontiers of what we know and into the realm of what we’re compelled to explore next.

He describes that imagination, in Einstein’s mind, is shorthand for a thought experiment: to simulate the consequences of a theory in a regime that’s yet to be tested, where the imaginative predictions were all well-quantified far in advance of the observations/experiments.

  • Both knowledge and imagination

This means that for your imagination to take you to worthwhile places, you also need a strong foundation of knowledge of the subject to build your theory or idea.

This makes it a “both/and” paradox.

This means that you need both a deep knowledge of the subject or problem and a capacity to create, evolve and exploit mental models of things or situations that are often counterintuitive and counterfactual and don’t yet exist.

Doing this enables you to generate new lines of feeling and thinking, and to connect fields, problems, and ideas that others find unrelated. To ultimately inspire, and result in collective innovation.

How does this relate to innovation?

Most of us are already aware that companies increasingly need to innovate — across strategies, operations, offerings, and business models. Especially when business environments are experiencing a range of global and local crises, accelerating change and ongoing, relentless instability and uncertainty. Where many have become survival focused, and adopt a short-term reactive lens in attempts to restore “normality” and arrest a decline in long-term growth rates and competitiveness.

As well as arrest a serious decline in their corporate vitality.  Which is crucial for long-term success, growth, and sustainability. Yet some companies are unaware that imagination is upstream of innovation. Sadly lack the focus towards entering this critical realm and leveraging it to stimulate a capacity for collective innovation which is needed for corporate vitality to thrive.

Corporate vitality enables organizations to thrive

An organizational culture that embraces corporate vitality enables them to thrive, by knowing how to shape visionary strategies in the imagination age that enables it to:

  • Rebound and reinvent themselves, under pressure.
  • Ignite people’s imagination to co-create ideas.
  • Collaborate to accelerate collective innovation.
  • Deliver and accelerate growth in a VUCA/BANI.

Yet, according to research by the BCG Hendersen Institute in an article “Competing on Imagination”

“Big businesses often struggle to make use of imagination. They may try to make it a predictable process, and end up with routine and incrementalism. Or they may treat it like a magical power, celebrated in tales of great innovators, in the hope that good ideas will appear as needed. As companies grow, it becomes harder to be imaginative. Larger companies tend to focus on exploiting what they know and what originally gave them scale”.

What else inhibits the development of corporate vitality?

The BCG research also reveals that most companies don’t yet know how to ignite people’s imagination. Which is required to co-create ideas and collaborate.

Often because they usually lack the motivation, rigor, and knowledge required to:

  • Clarify, ignite, and activate imagination: what it means and how it works at either an individual or collective level.

Which restricts an ability to develop the capacity required to deviate from the norm and emerge creative insights and breakthroughs, invent, and innovate on a scale.

  • Strategically and systematically improve the individual and collective capacity to imagine: which keeps them stuck within their own spheres, and focuses on averages rather than on exceptions.

This also restricts individual and collective investment in creating free time and space for daydreaming, mind wandering, and meandering into the unknown.

  • Cultivate individual and collective imaginative capacity through social transmissions: that evoke new questions and provocative ideas.

Which keeps them restricted to the confines of their own, or current mental models, rigid role parameters, and focus on metrics and conventional short-term siloed approaches.

Ultimately inhibiting our capacity to alter our cognitive habits, allowing our minds to make new associations, develop, and experiment with new ideas.  That forms the foundations for cultivating a culture that catalyzes collective innovation and unleashes corporate vitality.

Taking a neurological approach

Research presented by Gabriella Rosen Kellerman and Dr Martin Seligman, in their recent book Tomorrow Mind enables us to take a neurological approach towards igniting people’s imagination – to arouse our curiosity and co-create ideas, that result in collective innovation.

  • Default Mode Network (DMN)

Stating that when we allow our minds to wander and daydream, our brain doesn’t just “power down.” Instead it “switches to a new mode of thinking, one so vital that it is our default – or the activity our brains jump to in every free moment” which specializes in two processes: imagining and planning.

This is known as our Default Mode Network (DMN). Which activates when we let our minds wander or drift into a daydream, to create spontaneous oscillations that allow us to observe novel thought streams and extract new patterns, generalizations, interpretations, and insights.

It is the place our best ideas come from.

  • Discovering what does not yet exist

In this realm, our minds break the bonds of space and time, blending memory and fantasy, creating an eternal cycle that dances between exploitation and exploration.

Allowing us to exploit our “knowns” and explore new possibilities by imagining scenes that differ radically from the actual past and the actual present, allowing us to discover and learn deeply about what does not yet exist.

What does this mean to organizations, leaders, and coaches?

  • Power of provocation

ImagineNation™ has pioneered innovation coaching by presenting The Coach for Innovators, Leaders, and Teams Certified Program, globally online for more than 10 years.  To teach the traits, mindsets, behaviors, and skills to ignite people’s imagination, based on our experience that consciousness, imagination, and curiosity are the precursors to both creativity and innovation.

Where consciousness contains the states and qualities of the mind, which is where our imagination is located, creativity is the process of bringing something new to the mind, and innovation is bringing the new to the world.

  • Being a disruptive provocateur

We teach participants to become “disruptive provocateurs” who know how to compassionately, creatively, and courageously create collective holding spaces.

That creates the permission, safe space, and trust for developing generative thinking processes that enable peoples to see and solve challenging problems that evoke and emerge new discoveries, and creative ideas and generate learning by:

  • Disrupting peoples’ habitual feelings and thought processes and comfort zones,
  • Co-creating the permission, safety, and trust to deviate and differ,
  • Space and time for elasticizing and stretching habitual thought processes.

Imagination can be provocative because it arouses scenes that differ radically from the actual past and the actual present. This allows us to discover and learn deeply about what does not yet exist. It enables us to focus on being intentional, in taking intelligent and right actions to solve the problem differently and develop corporate vitality.

  • Power of prospection

Developing the co-creative frequencies requires us to alter our cognitive habits, allowing our minds to make new associations, develop, and experiment with new ideas, and cultivate a culture that embraces corporate vitality. This involves the capacity to imagine alternate futures, and developing prospection skills – “the ability within each of us to think about the future and envision what’s possible.”

According to USA-based leading global coaching platform BetterUps’ Report on the Future Minded Leader:

“Imagining ourselves into alternate futures and evaluating them as a way to make decisions and guide present action is unique”.

These occupy at least one-quarter of our waking thoughts, and when it comes to imagining the future, we are at once both our most optimistic and pessimistic selves, which is, in essence, also contradictory. Because we can both project optimism about what is to come and make risk-averse decisions to build the foundations for envisioning a range of desirable and alternate futures.

  • Sparking corporate vitality

Building an “imagination machine” – an organization where the imagination of individuals work together is fully supported intentionally and by design involves creating space for our Default Mode Networks (DMN) to activate and lay the foundations for collective innovation by:

  • Creating space and time for reflection enables people to regain control of their attention and minds, and to allow spontaneous, generative mind wandering – by engaging in simple activities like walking, reading, bathing, exercising, and free writing.
  • Making it safe and permissible to regularly expose people to the unfamiliar and the unknown – by building their discomfort resilience, provoking and elasticizing their core and habitual thinking processes.
  • Coaching, teaching, and training people to view their worlds systemically, to wander and daydream at the edges of the social fields – to sense, perceive and emerge anomalies, and counterintuitive and counterfactual patterns and trends.
  • Coaching, teaching, and training people to safely disrupt and challenge their habitual mental models – by creating mindset flips and paradigm shifts, developing their curiosity, and enhancing their cognitive diversity and agility.
  • Introducing more playfulness into the working environment – by improvising, exploring, introducing business simulations, and learning events, as well as gamification, to generate insights, that saturate us with ideas that we can then incubate.

Imagination, collective innovation, and corporate vitality

When we combine a rigorous approach to expanding and applying both our knowledge and our imagination, we can co-create ideas, and innovate in ways that illuminate people’s hearts and minds.

By altering and elasticizing our cognitive habits, allowing our minds to make new associations and unlikely connections, we can develop, and experiment with new ideas, and cultivate a culture that leverages and scales collective innovation that unleashes real corporate vitality.

Image Credit: Pixabay

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A Different Approach to Well-being, Resilience and Creativity

A Different Approach to Well-being, Resilience and Creativity

GUEST POST from Janet Sernack

In our previous blogs, we outlined the need, in our chaotic world of unknowns, to reclaim our focus and attention and take charge of our own minds. By reclaiming these, and enhancing self-awareness we have a deeper understanding of the sources of our anxiety and distractions.  How to self-manage and self-regulate them through developing deliberate calm. To effectively create consciousness, and a safe space that potentially transforms the power of our minds and hearts to connect with others, cultivate well-being, harness people’s collective genius, and generate our resilience, through thinking about creativity differently.

Transforming fear and alarm

This mobilizes the energy our fears, anxiety, and alarm provide to transform the power of our minds and develop physical and psychological well-being. We can then apply proven neuroscience principles and coaching practices to cultivate resilience and think about creativity differently.

Transforming our fears and alarm in this way increases our resilience in responding to events in real-time, anticipating future events, and processing learning’s post events. It also enhances our well-being and creativity to enable us to be courageous and compassionate when inventing and innovating in an uncertain and constantly changing environment.

The potential outcomes include people experiencing more positive emotions, increased engagement at work, increased development of positive relationships, and more meaningful and purposeful work. These help us be adaptive, and transform the power of our hearts and minds to be creative, accomplish, learn, adapt, grow, and innovate through disruption.

Well-being is in crisis

In the latest report, by Udemy on “Workplace Learning Trends” they compare data collected from Australian workers (human capital) in early September 2022 with previous surveys in November 2019, August 2020, and May 2021.

They discovered three surprising truths about well-being, including:

  • Workers’ resilience levels are waning. More than two-thirds of workers (68.5%) felt like they were burning out at work. This is impacting workers’ levels of performance, job satisfaction, and commitment.
  • There is a crisis for meaningful work Only 39.1% of workers said their work was valuable and worthwhile, versus 47% in 2021, and 52.9% in 2020.
  • Many workplaces are wasting their well-being Workplaces have too much invested in EAP services (which are proving only slightly more effective than doing nothing) and not enough in more effective tools that workers are more comfortable accessing like Wellbeing Artificial Intelligence Bots, Wellbeing Apps, Wellbeing Workshops and Wellbeing Coaching.

This reinforces the need to think and act differently when we approach cultivating well-being, resilience, and creativity to better realize our human potential and human skills in times when they are our most valuable assets and needed the most and are crucial to future success!

Developing deliberate calm

“Deliberate calm” involves developing a practice of adaptive, intentional choices that anyone can develop by embracing what was once regarded as “soft” stuff: self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and mindfulness to learn proactively and lead dynamically amid the most uncertain circumstances, where according to Aaron De Smet, the co-author of “Deliberate Calm: How to Learn and Lead in a Volatile World”:

“Why do we say “deliberate”? Because if you’re not deliberate about it you will probably freak out. I need to be very deliberate in knowing that I’m in a chaotic situation, knowing the stakes are high, knowing there’s a lot of uncertainty, and then deliberately calming myself down and taking stock”.

Deliberate calm looks at the inner world, the outer world, the context, and the dynamic between those and starts by slowing down to create a safe space for people to enjoy the benefits of deliberate calm.  This helps activate, focus, and unleash our creative brains and facilitates thinking about creativity differently.

Hitting our pause buttons

Creating deliberate calm is one of the most critically urgent human skill sets to develop.

It involves creating for ourselves and co-creating, with others, more normalized states of equilibrium and calmness. This enables us to cultivate our physical and psychological well-being, develop resilience and unleash creativity differently by accessing our collective intelligence, skills, and experience through applying proven neuroscience principles and coaching practices.

It starts with initiating a habit of pausing long enough to take deep breaths, retreat, reflect, and access these inner parts of ourselves; including noticing our emotions, identifying our triggers, observing our physical reactions to normalize our equilibrium, coherence, and calmness, and focusing on thinking about creativity differently.

Re-appraising our situation

We can then reappraise what is really going on, by identifying what our emotions are telling us, sustaining the most resourceful emotions and letting negative ones go, and finally, by identifying the key options for taking positive actions. Ultimately take smarter risks, make smarter decisions, and take more intelligent actions that cultivate our well-being, develop our resilience, unleash creativity differently, and satisfy our desire for meaning, purpose, and accomplishment.

As evidenced by our global coaching practice, this personally empowering and energizing activity focuses our attention, minds, and hearts on what really matters, and on what we can truly influence and control in a world of unknowns, and engages people deeply in doing the value-adding, productive and meaningful work that delivers it.

Three new deliberate calming practices to access and unleash our creative brains

  • Being grounded: involves being fully embodied, whole, centered, and balanced in ourselves and our relationships, we are in complete control of our mental, physical, and emotional selves, and are not easily influenced or shaken by other ideas or individuals.
  • Our unconscious mind, through our brains’ default mode network (DMN), is freed to wander, and be spontaneous in emerging and generating novel and surprising ideas and patterns.

This is usually achieved by regularly practicing a range of very simple activities that help us get centered, including removing any distractions (mobile phones), deep breathing (box breathing), and slow grounding repetitive exercises such as Feldenkrais.

  • Being mindful: involves focusing our conscious attention on the present moment, our physical sensations, thoughts, and emotions in an accepting, nonjudgmental, and discerning way. It involves training our unconscious minds to notice, focus and pay deep attention to what is really going on, for ourselves, for others, and in the system, we are operating within.
  • Our conscious minds are now provided with the focus necessary for guided problem-solving and for identifying the actions required to deliver the desired outcomes.

This is usually achieved by simple activities, by directing your focus when walking during the day (in nature without headsets), yoga, swimming, golf, tennis, listening to music, cooking, or by simple mindful meditation practices.

  • Being conscious: involves being in the present moment, or fully in the “here and now,” and means that we are grounded, fully aware, and mindful of what is happening at every moment because we are now consciously aware and able to shift our minds and generate creative thinking strategies.
  • Our conscious minds are able to exploit possibilities and make sense of the ideas that surface in the mind-wandering phase, by accessing the salience network, which then recruits the executive control networks, in our brains to refine and develop an idea. We can then exploit the range of creative ideas to make unexpected connections and to emerge, diverge and converge novel ideas for thinking about creativity differently, as well as for smart risk-taking, decision-making, and innovative problem-solving.

Empowering people to envision and transform

Creating a safe space, to transform the power of our minds and hearts to connect with others cultivates our well-being, harnesses peoples’ collective genius, generates resilience, and unleashes creativity by thinking about creativity differently.

This manifests as an opportunity to empower people to plan and make the nudges necessary to kickstart change, envision and plan for the future of unknowns.

Rather than unintentionally colluding with their unconscious panicking and retreating from the fears, anxiety, and risks currently emerging in an uncertain world full of disruption and crises.

Find out about our collective, learning products and tools, including The Coach for Innovators, Leaders, and Teams Certified Program, presented by Janet Sernack, is a collaborative, intimate, and deeply personalized innovation coaching and learning program, supported by a global group of peers over 9-weeks, starting Friday, May 12, 2023.

It is a blended and transformational change and learning program that will give you a deep understanding of the language, principles, and applications of an ecosystem focus, human-centric approach, and emergent structure (Theory U) to innovation, and upskill people and teams and develop their future fitness, within your unique innovation context.

Image Credit: Pixabay

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Using Limits to Become Limitless

Using Limits to Become Limitless

GUEST POST from Rachel Audige

While it dates back to the 1970s, the expression ‘think outside the box’ is still in vogue. Yet the idea of creativity being best when unrestrained is at best a bit of a fable and at worst, unhelpful – particularly when we are confined to the four walls of our home! What is really helpful is when people actually impose constraints on their thinking. It’s counter-intuitive but creativity loves constraints.

So, what sort of constraints does it love? In my experience, there are five. The first — contrary to popular belief — is to artificially create a frame or a ‘box’. In her inspiring TEDx talk at Newark Academy, Tess Callahan spoke about “the love affair between creativity and constraint.” We all admire people who think outside the box but how do they do it? What if the key to thinking ‘outside the box’ is to create a box to think outside of?”, she says.

For many, thinking ‘outside the box’ means exploring new paths and “being open-minded” and “brainstorming without judgement”. This makes sense but how to do this is not very clear. Subject to the rigour of the facilitator, brainstorming sessions are likely to generate a huge list of ideas that are more or less out of reach. I call these ‘aromatherapy ideas’ (inspired by an ad where the brainstorm led to aromatherapy candles in the hire car putting everyone — even the driver! — to sleep). The team feels empowered and hyped but months later when nothing has happened to their ideas, they are cynical and will boot out the next person who wants to talk innovation.

In workshops we illustrate the difference between outside and inside-the-box thinking by asking people to go create a piece of exercise equipment that we’ve never seen before. Faces look blank, the buzz is low but the pairs come up with a few nice ideas. In a second round we ask them to do the same but to make it exercise equipment that we can use at the wheel of our car. The noise level trebles, ideas fuse and even those who had nothing have some interesting ideas (along with the odd aromatherapy one!). We then ask them ‘Which exercise was easier?’. 95% will say the second (there’s always an outlier or two…). Give people the context; the box. Zoom in and work from there. This gives people focus and avoids the blank canvas syndrome.

The second constraint loved by creativity is the natural corollary of the first: once you have a defined ‘box’, you should follow a path of most resistance and limit the resources you can use to ideate or create.

Systematic Inventive Thinking (SIT), the Israeli company and innovation method that I believe really enhances creative thinking (as opposed to simply providing a process) is grounded in this belief that constraints foster creativity. The founders were so convinced of this that they imposed an artificial constraint on the creative process so that you have to strive to only use resources that are inside what we call the ‘Closed World’. The key to this is being systematic about how you go through the ‘inventory’ of this closed world. If you’re not, your cognitive biases will blind you to some great ideas…

That brings us to the third idea: once you have limited your frame and your resources, creativity is enhanced by drawing on inspiration; on templates. These help bust these biases and take a different path through our minds. When artists want to paint, they often learn by copying the masters. Likewise, in creative thinking and innovation it is powerful to draw on the most inventive ideas. There are countless templates to draw from. Biomimicry is based on the templates tried and tested by Mother Nature. The Speedo swimsuits inspired by shark skin to reduce drag were banned in the Olympics were seen to be a nice example of this. TRIZ (the inspiration for SIT) covers 40 patterns that not only inspire but are said to serve as predictive models for future innovations…

In SIT we work with five inventive thinking tools that come from five patterns present in the 80% of the most inventive ideas (‘surprising for some but there is a sort of DNA to creative ideas). They include removing an essential component (like Apple did with the Shuffle) or dividing up a process or product and moving a component in time or space (like H&M did when they moved the step of paying from the end of the shopping process to the moment the decision is made in the fitting room). The brilliant thing is that these templates not only increase our chances of coming up with something exciting but they help bust the cognitive biases that may lead us to miss resources that are right under our nose.

The fourth constraint is to diligently follow a workflow. In design thinking we have learnt to start with our customers’ needs and pain points (the “function”) and develop a solution (the “form”) to fit. This has been a crucial shift that taught organisations to stop product push but what if we could learn another workflow? And what if this workflow could help us suspend our embedded thinking so that we can unearth more original ideas?

Back in the early 90’s, a group of psychologists made an interesting discovery. When it comes to creating, people are innately better at uncovering the potential benefits of a given form than creating a new form to satisfy a given need. Or, to put it differently, we struggle to come up with a solution to a problem more than a problem for a given solution. Those of us who work with this find that this “back-to-front” approach is great way to stop ourselves from default thinking and embedding the structures, functions and relationships that we are used to into the new idea.

In SIT we call this ‘Function Follows Form’ and the more strictly we apply this workflow constraint, the more impactful it is on our creative thinking. We start by defining the closed world and listing the resources we have available. We then apply a template (depending on the most likely cognitive fixedness). This manipulation leads to a ‘virtual’ process, product or ‘situation’. This is when our resistance is greatest and if we are not strict about limiting our thinking to this oddly manipulated virtual form, we are likely to reject it and possibly miss the opportunities it offers. Once we have visualised it and described how it could work, we then explore its desirability, feasibility and viability, make any necessary adaptations and then test the idea if it warrants it. It is invaluable to know how to think both form to function as well as function to form.

The last constraint is that of embracing unchosen limitations. Phil Hansen (TEDxKC) tells a beautiful story of how he harnessed the power of embracing a ‘shake’’ to create even more extraordinary art.

After years of painting with a method of tiny dots, Hansen developed a shake in the hand that made it impossible to paint as he was used to doing. His dots “had become tadpoles”. It was good for “shaking a can of paint” but for Phil it was “the destruction of his dream of becoming an artist.” He left art school and he left art.

This didn’t work for him, however, so, after a while, he went to see a neurologist who diagnosed him with permanent nerve damage. This wasn’t great. What was great though was what he said to him: “ Why don’t you just embrace the shake?”

So he went home and started making art with nothing but scribbles . He then limited himself to his feet. He then moved to wood… He moved to larger materials where his hand wouldn’t hurt. He started with a single way of painting and ended up with endless possibilities. “This was the first time that I encountered the idea that embracing limitation could actually drive creativity,” he says.

He finished up school and got a new job. This enabled him to afford more art supplies. He explains that he “went nuts” buying stuff and took it home with the intention to do something incredible. He sat there for hours and nothing came. Same thing the next day. And the next. He was “creatively blank”; paralysed by all these choices that he never had before. That was when he thought about what the neurologist had said…

He realised that if he ever wanted his creativity back, he had to quit trying so hard to think outside of the box, and “get back into it”. In fact, he started exploring the idea that he could get more creative by actually looking for limitations? “We need to first be limited in order to become limitless, he says, very poignantly.

He took this approach to being ‘inside the box’ and did a series of artworks where he imposed tight constraints: he could only paint on his chest, or he could only create with karate chops or what if he created art to destroy after its creation (an image of Jimmy Hendricks made out of 7000 matches — crazy!), what if he used frozen wine…“What I thought would be the ultimate limitation turned out to be the ultimate liberation as each time I created the destruction brought me back to a place of neutrality where I felt fresh to start a new project,” he explains.

He found myself in a state of constant creation “coming up with more ideas than ever…”

We don’t all have the honed creative skills of my new artist friend or of the astonishing Phil Hansen but that’s all the more reason to boost our creative potential. As individuals and in organisations, we need learnable, robust, repeatable tools to be more skilled inventive thinkers — and to be able to harness this on demand. We need methods that impose limitations. So try getting back inside the box and embrace the constraints!

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Top 10 Human-Centered Change & Innovation Articles of December 2022

Top 10 Human-Centered Change & Innovation Articles of December 2022Drum roll please…

At the beginning of each month, we will profile the ten articles from the previous month that generated the most traffic to Human-Centered Change & Innovation. Did your favorite make the cut?

But enough delay, here are December’s ten most popular innovation posts:

  1. Forbidden Truth About Innovation — by Robyn Bolton
  2. A Letter to Innovation Santa — by John Bessant
  3. Preserving Ecosystems as an Innovation Superpower — by Pete Foley
  4. What is a Chief Innovation Officer? — by Art Inteligencia
  5. If You Can Be One Thing – Be Effective — by Mike Shipulski
  6. How to Drive Fear Out of Innovation — by Teresa Spangler
  7. 3 Steps to Find the Horse’s A** In Your Company (and Create Space for Innovation) — by Robyn Bolton
  8. Six Ways to Stop Gen-Z from Quiet Quitting — by Shep Hyken
  9. Overcoming the Top 3 Barriers to Customer-Centricity — by Alain Thys
  10. Designing Innovation – Accelerating Creativity via Innovation Strategy — by Douglas Ferguson

BONUS – Here are five more strong articles published in November that continue to resonate with people:

If you’re not familiar with Human-Centered Change & Innovation, we publish 4-7 new articles every week built around innovation and transformation insights from our roster of contributing authors and ad hoc submissions from community members. Get the articles right in your Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin feeds too!

Have something to contribute?

Human-Centered Change & Innovation is open to contributions from any and all innovation and transformation professionals out there (practitioners, professors, researchers, consultants, authors, etc.) who have valuable human-centered change and innovation insights to share with everyone for the greater good. If you’d like to contribute, please contact me.

P.S. Here are our Top 40 Innovation Bloggers lists from the last three years:

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Why is it important to innovate in 2023?

Why is it important to innovate in 2023?

GUEST POST from Janet Sernack

At ImagineNation™ we have just celebrated 10 years as a global innovation consultancy, learning, and coaching company. During this time, we’ve identified some of the common patterns that people demonstrate as a result of feeling uncomfortable, frozen, inert, stubborn, and confused and as a result, are resistant to innovation. Where many organizations, teams, and leaders appear to walk backward as if they are sleepwalking through this time in their lives.

At the same time, we know that innovation is transformational, and why, at this moment in time, it is more important than ever to create, invent and innovate. We also know that is crucial to be better balanced, resilient, and adaptive to grow and flow, survive and thrive, in today’s chaotic BANI environment. We also know exactly what transformative innovation involves, and how to enable and equip people to connect and collaborate in new ways to effect constructive and sustainable change in a world of unknowns.

Innovation is, in fact, the water of life!

Shaping the next normal

According to a recent article by McKinsey and Co “The future is not what it used to be: Thoughts on the shape of the next normal” the coronavirus crisis is a “world-changing event” which is forcing both the pace and scale of workplace innovation.

Stating that businesses are forced to do more with less and that many are finding better, simpler, less expensive, and faster ways to operate.  Describing how innovative health systems, through necessity, constraints, and adversity have exploited this moment in time, to innovate:

“The urgency of addressing COVID-19 has also led to innovations in biotech, vaccine development, and the regulatory regimes that govern drug development so that treatments can be approved and tried faster. In many countries, health systems have been hard to reform; this crisis has made the difficulty much easier to achieve. The result should be a more resilient, responsive, and effective health system”.

We all know that it is impossible to know what will happen in the future and yet, that it is possible to consider and learn from the lessons of the past, both distant and recent.  On that basis, it’s crucial to take time out, be hopeful, and positive, and think optimistically about the future. To be proactive and innovate to shape the kind of future we all wish to have, through making constructive and sustainable changes, that ultimately contribute to the common good.

Strategically deciding to innovate

Strategically deciding to innovate, is the first, mandatory, powerful, and impactful lever organizations, teams, leaders, and individuals can pull to effect constructive and sustainable change that enables people to execute and deliver real benefits:

  • Deal with, and find solutions to a world full of complex and competing social, civic, and political problems that are hard to solve and aren’t going away.
  • Better adapt, respond to, and be agile in fast-changing circumstances, uncertainty, instability, and to random and unexpected Black Swan events, like the global Covid-19 Pandemic and the Russian-Ukraine war.
  • Become human-centric to help people recover and manage their transition through the challenges of the global pandemic and enable them to exploit the range of accelerating technological advances in the digital age.
  • Develop corporate responsibility, sustainability, diversity, and inclusion strategies that are practical and can work and really deliver on their promises.
  • Compete by applying and experimenting with lean and agile start-up methodologies and take advantage of the opportunities and possibilities of the global entrepreneurship movement’s new models for leadership, collaboration, and experimentation.
  • Align to the range of changing workplace dynamics and trends, resulting from the pandemic, including WFH, the “soft resignation” and the demands of a hybrid workplace.
  • Shift individual, group, and collective consciousness towards collaboration and experimentation in ways that rebuild the trust that has been lost through incompetence, corruption, greed, and dishonesty.
  • Respond creatively to meet the increasingly diverse range of customer expectations and choices being made around value.

Important to innovate – three elements

To take advantage of living in a globalized world, where we are interconnected through technologies and values and where we have an interrelated structure of reality, we can:

  • Accept that innovation-led adaptation and growth are absolutely critical and develop targets and a willingness to invest in new scalable business models, achieve fast and effective developments, and launch processes to reflect these.
  • Invest in a coherent, time-risk balanced portfolio of initiatives and provide the resources to deliver them, at scale, strategically, to innovate to the right market, at the right price, at the right time, and through the most effective channels.
  • Adopt an ecosystem approach to adapt and grow by creating and capitalizing on both internal and external networks, and stakeholder management through developing workforce ecosystems – a structure that consists of interdependent actors, from within the organization and beyond, working to pursue both individual and collective goals.

Problem-solving, cultural change, and improving people’s lives

It is more important than ever to make innovation transformational, so that it delivers constructive, ethical, and sustainable change, by building on three critical successful abilities:

  1. Seeing and sensing the real systemic problem or breakthrough opportunity:
  • What problem are we solving? And is there a customer who wants to pay to have that problem solved?
  • What problem are we solving for the customer? Who needs this?
  • What are the possibilities and opportunities available to us? And is there a customer who wants to pay to have this opportunity realized?
  • What are some of our strengths? What are some of the things we are doing well that we can build upon or exploit?
  1. Shifting the culture:
  • Where are we today? Where do we want to be in the future?
  • What are our prevailing mindsets? How can we measure and contextualize their impact? What mindsets might we embrace to adapt and grow in an uncertain world?
  • How ready and receptive are we to really embrace change?
  • What do we need to unlearn and relearn to ensure our people are open-minded, hearted, and willed to embody and enact the desired change?
  • How engaged and passionate are our people in problem-solving?
  • How might we harness our people’s collective intelligence to solve problems and realize opportunities?
  1. Aligning technologies, processes, artifacts, and behaviors as a holistic system:
  • What is our appetite for risk? How do we define risk in our context?
  • What type of innovation do we strategically want to plan for and engage in?
  • What old legacy technologies no longer serve your needs? What new technologies might you be willing to invest in for the future?
  • What disciplines are in place to ensure that people have a common understanding of the key processes and comply with managing them?
  • How are we ensuring that everyone is motivated and skilled to innovate?
  • How are we ensuring that people are acknowledged, rewarded, and organized to repeatedly innovate?
  • What are the key mindsets and behaviours that enable and equip people to embody and embrace repeatedly innovate and design solutions with the end customer in mind?

Become an adaptive and resilient difference maker

As many of us are aware, Toys R Us and Blockbuster were huge companies, that enjoyed massive success; however, this was all brought to an end due to their failure to innovate.

We can all avoid this fate by choosing to innovate and create constructive and sustainable change through:

  • Accepting and acknowledging that to survive and thrive in a BANI world, where necessity is still the mother of all invention, and the urgency to do this is more important than ever.
  • Identifying, understanding, and dealing with our own resistance to innovation, safely and proactively, and transforming resistance into resilience, to be adaptive and safely innovate.
  • Understanding where we are today and then assessing the gap to what we want to be in the future, and mitigating the risks of both closing the gap and leaving the gap wide open.
  • Enabling leaders, teams, and individuals to connect, explore, discover and navigate new ways of approaching and delivering commercially viable, value-adding, constructive and sustainable change, and outcomes.
  • Leveraging innovation to transform an organization, a business, the way people lead and team, to improve the quality of people’s lives in ways they appreciate and cherish.

“In order to transcend mere adequacy and make a mark of creative transcendence on the world, organizations need to stop walking backward, following a trail that has already been blazed. The motto of the British Special Air Service is, “Who dares, wins.” It is time for businesses to be bold, inspired, and look to the horizon. The next great innovation is out there. Will you have the guts to create it?”

Will you make a fundamental choice to innovate?

According to McKinsey and Co “The point is that where the world lands is a matter of choice – of countless decisions to be made by individuals, companies, governments, and institutions”.

Will you make a fundamental choice to use the current crisis to lead to a burst of innovation, productivity, resilience, and exploration in 2023, to take advantage of our connected world to create the constructive and sustainable changes we all want to have?

Or will you continue walking backward and sleepwalking through life, and fail to take advantage of this moment in time, to innovate, and continue life with the same thinking that is causing the current range of results, that many of us don’t want to have?

Find out more about our work at ImagineNation™

Find out about our collective, learning products and tools, including The Coach for Innovators, Leaders, and Teams Certified Program, presented by Janet Sernack, is a collaborative, intimate, and deeply personalized innovation coaching and learning program, supported by a global group of peers over 9-weeks, starting Tuesday, February 7, 2023.

It is a blended and transformational change and learning program that will give you a deep understanding of the language, principles, and applications of an ecosystem focus, human-centric approach, and emergent structure (Theory U) to innovation, and upskill people and teams and develop their future fitness, within your unique innovation context. Find out more about our products and tools

Image Credit: Unsplash

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What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do

What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do

GUEST POST from Mike Shipulski

When you don’t know what to do, what do you do? This is a difficult question.

Here are some thoughts that may help you figure out what to do when you really don’t know.

Don’t confuse activity with progress.

Gather your two best friends, go off-site, and define the system as it is.

Don’t ask everyone what they think because the Collective’s thoughts will be diffuse, bland, and tired.

Get outside.

Draw a picture of how things work today.

Get a good meal.

Make a graph of goodness over time. If it’s still increasing, do more of what you did last time. If it’s flat, do something else.

Get some exercise.

Don’t judge yourself negatively. This is difficult work.

Get some sleep.

Help someone with their problem. The distraction will keep you out of the way as your mind works on it for you.

Spend time with friends.

Try a new idea at the smallest scale. It will likely lead to a better one. Repeat.

Use your best judgment.

Image credit: Pixabay

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Sickcare Culture of Conformity versus a Culture of Creativity

Sickcare Culture of Conformity versus a Culture of Creativity

GUEST POST from Arlen Meyers

Sickcare is a culture of conformity and competition. Premeds know it. Medical students and residents learn it. But, once they graduate, they are told they will be paid for value. Unfortunately, few will teach them how to do it and reconcile the culture of conformity and competition with an innovative culture of creativity, collaboration and interprofessional communication.

We should be thankful that we are starting to see some cracks in the armor.

Here are some ways to balance the two mindsets:

  1. Start with higher education reform  To prepare students for a post-Covid future, colleges and universities need to double down on preparing them for digital jobs. But even teaching platform skills aren’t enough. Few employers are interested in hiring candidates who’ve just completed a training program, they’re looking for relevant work experience. The good news is that there are two promising models for colleges to go beyond the traditional career services function to provide students with relevant digital training and work experience.
  2. Overcome the fallacies about creativity. To avoid premature closure, teams should arrive at an “almost final” decision and then intentionally delay action in favor of additional incubation time. During this time, everyone should commit to thinking about the problem and sharing their ideas. If the team can’t find a better approach during the incubation period, they should proceed with their original solution. Leaders can improve group creativity by paying close attention to how ideas are discussed in diverse group settings. They should encourage team members to build on each other’s ideas instead of pushing individual ideas. This doesn’t mean that ideas should be accepted blindly when they contain flaws; instead, they should approach ideas with an open mind to acknowledge useful aspects and improve weaknesses using plussing or the similar “yes, but, and” approach. To promote more creative ideas, leaders should utilize simple tools to capture individual ideas before they are opened to the whole group. Group discussions should be conducted asynchronously, where team members look at each other’s ideas and use them to refine and create new ideas. If done remotely, leaders should find other ways to bring the team together to bond and build trust with each other
  3. Teach creativity and entrepreneurship in medical school and residencies. Here is something so you don’t have to do reinvent the wheel.
  4. Rethink how we recruit and accept medical students Medical education is not alone, as noted in a recent HBR article describing how Goldman Sachs changed how they recruited new hires. Perhaps it is time for medical schools to adopt three new ways of recruiting and accepting medical students.
  5. Give medical students the opportunity to get experience working in a more creative culture as part of an internship or rotation.

6.Train the trainers. Provide faculty with the knowledge, skills, abilties and competencies they need to integrate creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship as part of their basic science and clinical rotations. But, what should an introduction to entrepreneurship teaching and learning include for basic science and clinical faculty who do not have innovation and entrepreneurship domain expertise include?

The learning objective of the module should be to know how to integrate healthcare innovation and entrepreneurship topics into basic science courses and clinical rotations by challenging students with case based, problem based and project based learning in real world settings and applications to help them perfect sickcare entrepreneurial knowledge, skills, attitudes and competencies.

7. Let medical students and residents take a gap year to learn how to create and sell something. Over half of medical schools already have an arrangement whereby students can take a one year leave of absence. But they call it something other than a gap year. They call it getting an MBA. Or, offer them a fellowship in entrepreneurship and innovation.

8. Close the doctor-data scientist digital divide to create a more cooperative culture of data analytics creativity.

9. Hire leaderpreneurs to become department chairs and deans. Rethink the triple threat.

10. Give medical students and residents an exit ramp. The next phase of medical school education reform is in progress. One question medical educators and Deans will have to address is, “What business are we in?” Are you in the business of graduating doctors who will only take care of patients directly, or, are you in the business of creating opportunities for graduates to pursue biomedical careers of their choice, including non-clinical careers that do not involve seeing patients face to face for a significant part of their working life? Patients are not the only stakeholders that have a dog in the sickcare hunt.

11. Teach philanthropreneurship Philanthropreneurship has four elements. First, the driving force must be a passion to make life better for others, especially those who are underprivileged. Second, there has to be an element of giving, whether this is in terms of money or time. Third, there needs to be creativity, the envisioning of novel approaches to solving problems. And finally, philanthropreneurship requires leadership and strategic thinking– directing, organizing, and influencing the efforts of others.

12. Destroy your innovation silos Sick care badly needs innovation if it is to become healthcare . Yet, it’s questionable whether it can be fixed from inside. Despite the popularity of open innovation and community based, participatory innovation networks, healthcare organizations and doctors seem to shun outside ideas and collaboration and are perceived as arrogant know-it-alls, stuck in the ivory tower or healthcare city , when it comes to knowing what’s best for patients. They have a silo mindset that blocks collaboration with other stakeholders in the innovation supply chain. The challenge for most organizations is to create and engage stakeholders.

Innovation starts with mindset. The clinical mindset is different from the entrepreneurial mindset and the ethics of medicine are different from the ethics of business. We need to give experience, educate and train doctors who can reconcile the two. Thankfully, it is starting to happen and it will make better doctors.

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