CREATIVITY, THE WEALTH OF IDEAS
People in today's organizations face many of the same challenges that their forbearers faced two hundred years ago: turning ideas into reality; engaging people in the effort; knowing when to seize the moment; dealing with change; and knowing when to quit.
While it may not be easy or obvious, creativity can help you identify and implement purposeful change in your organization. Creativity can help your organization develop strategies that embrace complex and sustainable change. Such change, however, requires you to take into account, individual differences and the forces at work and the affects on the future. But, it's simply not enough to look at strategies for your organization, but to look to the future and shape the next steps to creating a new organization.
If you want to accept the role of "chief change agent" in your organization, you may want to follow these suggestions from Chris Turner, a change agent at Xerox Business Services (XBS). The job title on Chris Turner's business card simply reads "Learning Person." "It's like citizen of the world,'" she says. "Ultimately my hope is that people in all parts of XBS will see themselves as Learning Persons."
As nonhierarchical as her job title sounds, Turner's role at XBS is that of "chief change agent." Here are her nine lessons for would-be change agents from www.fastcompany.com/online/05/changetips.html.
Be open to data at the start.
"Even if you think you know what you're doing, chances are you don't know what you could be doing. Open up your mind to as much new thinking as you can absorb. You may find different and better ideas than the ones your organization started with."
Network like crazy.
"There is a network of people who are thinking about learning organizations. I've found you can get in touch with them easily. People say to me, `I can't believe you talked with so-and-so! How'd you do it?' The answer is, I called him."
Document your own learning.
"People in the organization need to see documentation for their own comfort. The smartest thing I did was to create a matrix of ideas from leading thinkers. I documented two categories of thinking - the elements of a learning organization, and the pitfalls to avoid."
Take senior management along.
Turner's own education included benchmarking trips to Saturn, Texas Instruments, Motorola, General Electric, and other companies known for their innovative approaches to learning. "Some of the people in the senior group were very skeptical," Turner says. "It helped to take them on these benchmarking trips to show them other companies that were actually doing some of the same learning practices."
"You've got to be fearless and not worry about keeping your job."
Be a learning person yourself.
"Change agents have to be in love with learning and constantly learning new things themselves. Then they find new ways to communicate those things to the organization as a whole."
Laugh when it hurts.
"This can be very discouraging work. You need a good sense of humor. It also helps if you've got a mantra you can say to yourself when things aren't going too well."
Know the business before you try to change anything.
"I don't think you can do this work if you're just a theorist. I've been a sales rep, I've been in a marketing job where I worked with the operations side. So when I go about the work of creating a change strategy, I already have an understanding of the people in our organization and what they do."
Finish what you start.
"I made a list of change projects we'd started and never finished in the past. We called it 'the black hole.' I determined early on I didn't want to be part of a second-rate movie."
The farmer cannot make the germ develop and sprout from the seed. He can only supply the nurturing conditions which will permit the seed to develop its own potentialities. So it is with creativity. How can we establish the external conditions which will foster and nourish the internal conditions.
Carl R. Rogers
Harvard Management Update, "Starting New Businesses Inside The Organization," Editor, Pages 1-2, December 1999.
Executive Excellence, "Selling Dreams," Gian Luigi Buitoni, Page 17, December 1999.
The Futurist, "Beliefs About The Future," Noelle Nelson, Pages 46-51, January-February 2000.
Fortune, "Welcome To The New Company Town," Jerry Useem, Pages 62-70, January 10, 2000.
CIO, "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow," Meridith Levinson, Pages 70-76, December 15, 1999/January 1, 2000.
Intrapreneuring In Action, A Handbook For Business Innovation, Gifford Pinchot and Ron Pellman, Berrett-Koehler Publishers., San Francisco, CA 1999.
The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. He who knows it not and can no longer wonder, no longer feels amazement, it as good as dead, a snuffed-out candle. –Albert Einstein
Tom Peters's Eighteen New Year's Resolutions
1. Obsess on renewal! What have I done about it? Today?
2. Hang out more with kids [under 25] who really get this stuff.
3. Read more truly weird stuff ? especially from the biotech world.
4. Read more good fiction.
5. Go to at least two seriously kooky conferences.
6. Listen more. Talk less. Remind yourself of this every waking moment.
7. Stop letting the urgent but not truly important drive out the truly important by no so apparently urgent.
8. Start on my next two books ASAP.
9. Finish my next two books ASAP.
10. On every clear and not to cold Vermont days, go rowing on Lake St. Catherine in my Adirondack Guide Book.
11. Extend my current workout streak.
12. Take longer breaks. Take more naps. Fresh rules for all ages.
13. Keep all bird feeders full during the long Vermont winter.
14. Keep pushing "the work matters" movement.
15. Spread the gospel of the importance of great/cool design. It's my next big thing. Push the arts and creativity in Education.
16. Remember how lucky I am to be alive in 2000! Will all this stuff going down.
17. Pay much more attention to those who are missing out on all this cool Silicon Valley stuff.
18. Remember to say "Thank You!" Always!
Six Ways To Bury A Good Idea
1. It will never work.
2. We can't afford it.
3. We've never done it that way before.
4. We're not ready for it.
5. It's not our responsibility.
6. We're doing fine without it.
Ride The Wave
All a person can do is get a feeling for what is happening and then ride the wave. It's like being a surfer. Survival goes to the companies that ride the wave, and if they are lucky, they get to ride it for 20 years or so. That a good run for a business. And luck counts as well. Look at all the Microsoft millionaires, people who just happened to be there at the beginning. No one can predict with accuracy the micropatterns of economic change. Suppose in 1981 someone whispered in your ear that in just two decades there would be 100 million computers on peoples' desks. Even if you had that knowledge, you probably would of gone out and bought shares in Commodore, a company that's long bankrupt and gone.—Lester Thurow, Professor Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Happiness Means Empowerment
Most of today's workforce wants to take responsibility for their work, be able to make decisions that really count and have clout. This is a promise created by our new economy. Workplace satisfaction is indicated by how this promise is delivered to us. We each go into a new job expecting empowerment, but whether we actually get it depends on whether a sense of fulfillment has been met from their work. Employees entering a new job say that they were promised such things as: the authority to define their work; the power to make important decisions about their work; a role as part of a team; the opportunity to be an impact player; the chance to think creatively; and the freedom to be who they are. These ideals are part of this new workforce canon where people connect those promises with the ability to find meaning in their jobs.
News For Change
Some thoughts from a few Dreamers . . . . . . . .
In response to some recent comments from other "Dreamers," I beg to differ and find it hard to believe that people in the Forest Service will ever reject new ideas. I think creativity has helped the Forest Service immensely and most people that I deal with in the organization value new ideas. While I think that I use my creative abilities for many tasks that I perform, I cannot bring myself to believe that managers do not want any new ideas. No matter how far we stretch our imagination, some people will always see a glass as either being half empty or half full!
I love your articles on creativity. Creativity will help the Forest Service create a genuine revolution that will make creativity essential to our future success. While some champions for creativity can certainly help our organizations, a few moments teaching everyone about creativity can make a world of difference to the Forest Service. Very few of our units offer opportunities to learn about creativity. I think that we need to ensure that creativity training is offered to everyone. A few days or a week learning, researching and thinking about creativity can certainly help. We may be at crossroads of sorts in the Forest Service, but creativity can help us manage this change.
I am writing to thank you for Creativity Fringes. These last couple of years, I eagerly await each issue and enjoy them immensely! After I finish reading them, I pass them on to others and use many of the ideas that you suggest. Creativity is where the future will be!
Any and all comments, information to be shared, suggestions for future issues are most welcomed. Please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank You For Taking Time To Be Creative . . . . . .