Fall is always an exciting time for me. Maybe because it is the start of a new school year – so therefore full of possibilities and potential. Maybe because Fall is my favourite season – transformation is literally in the air. I had an excellent summer in Copenhagen at the Business School. It is such a pleasure working with students who are dedicated to their learning and celebrate their own potential. Is that every student? No, but enough to rejuvenate my spirits and feed my soul.
One of the highlights this summer was visiting NOMA – an experience best described as living ‘food art’. Definitely a bucket-lit item for any foodie. The meal was superb as could be expected, but the experience was made transformational for me in hearing a sous-chef state: “I don’t work for a restaurant. I serve NOMA. I serve my country. I serve a movement.” The statement left me in tears, for I have never heard such a powerful statement about corporate culture. I only wish I could hear that level of commitment more. But first, it has to be earned. And that is the role of the leader.
Simon Sinek has written a great book about leading an innovation culture. How you get it and how you keep it. What if you got up every day and could not wait to get to work? How many of us can actually say “I love my job” let alone “I serve” as above? The title comes from a marine general who states that leaders go to the back of the chow line and the most junior soldiers eat first. Why? Because it symbolizes in no uncertain terms that the role of a leader is to sacrifice individual comfort in service to the good of those in their care. Walk the talk. What a novel concept and what a shame it is so rare. Have you had an experience of that type of leader? I have. And would follow them anywhere.
Sinek also covers his topic from a biological/sociological perspective which provides additional insight into how cultures thrive. If you are contemplating any initiatives this Fall, as part of your own organizational transformation, this book is a must. It is one of the best business books I have read in a while. And for this book addict, that is high praise indeed. A Fall Feast for you.
Some books you just inhale, and this is one of them. I have loved Ken Robinson since his first ted.talk where he speaks to how schools kill creativity. Viewed over 33 million times, you might say it struck a collective nerve. His latest book does it again. One of my colleagues mentioned it to me today and I grabbed it on Kindle almost immediately. Over dinner, I read. Feed the body and feed the soul.
He speaks of the need for revolution by thinking of how schools current work (or most don’t actually), asking what counts as a school and how we might tell a different story about education. Why? His words. “If you design a system to do something specific, don’t be surprised if it does it. If you run an education system based on standardization and conformity that suppresses individuality, imagination and creativity, don’t be surprised if that’s what it does.” This books belongs in the hands of every parent who is worried about their child’s education. It belongs in the hands of every teacher who is passionate about their students – who knows that educare means to ‘draw forth’ NOT stuff in. We need to stop the profit focus on what has been called “educational puppy mills”. If you care about educational reform, this book is a recipe for revolution. Other countries are paying attention and have transformed their educational system.
So happy to announce the 2nd edition of my workbook, Finding Your Creative Core, is now available. Its been a really busy Fall! Building a creative environment within any organization starts with values – your own and the values-in-action within the organization. How often have you articulated your own values? Even thought about them? Something that most of us take for granted and yet, values form the foundation of almost everything we do. My workbook provides a starting point of exploration – a personal Heroic Journey to the centre of Self. For it is there that you will find the creative core you have always had. I love working with the Heroes Journey – I admit my bias! Many business books have been written that utilize the idea of the Hero, but most play at a superficial level, failing to address the power of the archetype itself. In November, I published an article in the Integral Leadership Journal that gives a more in-depth look at why the Heroes Journey has such power to transform. Suffice to say that the Journey always begins with each of us, willing or not, ready or not. An old Roman motto says it best – the Fates aid those who will … those who won’t they drag. When you are touch with your creative core, you are better prepared for the Journey. I wish you safe passage!
2015 will be again be a busy year. I’m getting ready for the 2015 Human Resources Professionals Association national conference in Toronto. I’ll be speaking on corporate culture and the ‘secret sauce’ of design-driven innovation. I hope to see you there! Best wishes for you and yours for the holiday season and 2015. Our journey continues.
The Kelley brothers from IDEO are at it again. After David Kelley has his brush with cancer, he decided to focus on what was most important to him – a wake up call not so gently delivered. The result is this new book on Creativity. Ever since Ken Robinson stated that ‘creativity is as important as literacy‘ – it has become a cause worth promoting and celebrating. I had the pleasure of listening to David Kelley last week talking about design thinking, bringing to the forefront the human element in products and in organizations. Innovation comes from people, and people can enhance their innate creativity. Nothing is more important to economic viability then leveraging creative capital in our people. A message worth repeating over and over again. The piece that many executives seem to miss is that working from this mindset increases employee engagement, reduces turnover, keeps your talent at home and drives profitability. So what is holding us back? A worthwhile read to get you headed in the right direction.
I’ve admired Brene Brown for some time. Her honesty, her humour, her courage. Inspiring enough to watch repeatedly myself and also bring into the classroom. Its been a really busy Fall and I’m glad for some downtime. Enough that I finally got around to reading her latest book, Daring Greatly. What a treat! If you haven’t had the pleasure of her first talk, or her follow up – the Ted videos are are great place to warm up. Daring Greatly was an even greater pleasure. Mainly because I had the time to absorb the message – and its a tough subject – shame. What holds us back and keeps us from attempting whatever it is that is within us trying to get out.
Jung always said that there are no accidents. The timing for me was perfect – the beginnings of a new research project. Time to read and reflect. Time to spend with student researchers plus a little time in the classroom. Time for an adventure into the unknown and uncharted. Mapping out new territory. Time to dare greatly.
Brown gives good advice. She says she only accepts and pays attention to feedback from others in the arena. I’ll try and keep that in mind! Wise words to to start a new project, a new adventure, a New Year. I’ll let you know what I find out on this next phase of the journey. Best wishes for 2014!
Back from Copenhagen and getting over jet lag. So catching up on my reading and went looking for a little treasure that is a great start to the Fall madness. Seth Godin put this book out in 2010 and if you haven’t done so, its worth the read. Our economy is sluggish and the only people who can pick it up – is us. Linchpin is a reminder – sometimes not so gentle – but maybe a little push is needed. One of the quotes from the book that sticks in my mind is “Raising the bar is easier than it looks, and it pays for itself. If your boss won’t raise your bar, you should.”
Maybe its the influence of hanging out for the summer at a world-class business school in Copenhagen. Maybe its heat stroke. But it gets me to thinking. What if we all decided to raise the bar? Regardless of what our employers expect? What if we all started to change the ending of our own journey? Godin speaks to the fact that many of us have been asked to hide our empathy and our creativity in service to a job description which is more than likely, outdated. What if we went outside our own ‘box’ and started using our innate creativity – for our own purpose? Even if you aren’t sure what your purpose is, you probably won’t find it in your job description. Your family doesn’t know either or else you wouldn’t be looking for it now.
So a little expansion while we still have great weather? Methinks its worth the effort. Part of my expansion is working on a Tedx talk for September 14th in MIlton, Ontario. A little part scary and a big part exciting. The theme? Linchpins. Hope to see you there.
Last week I spent in Ottawa with the Conference Board as an advisor to the National Council for Client Relationships and Customer Experience. One of the presenters had some interesting tools to offer for innovative thinking. Tim Hurson’s book, Think Better, is a great find for anyone struggling with shifting to an innovative culture. Full of brainstorming tools, you can only create the future by beginning to imagine it. This book is food for thought.
10 years after the success of ‘Good to Great‘, author Jim Collins returns with some interesting findings. Top contenders are findings such as the ability to scale innovation and to blend creativity and discipline. I have long argued that creativity is not ‘flakey’ but the most disciplined that you will ever be (Collins = hedgehog). That creative discipline delivers on performance goals and is consistent with values-in-action. The ability to marry relentless discipline with focused creativity is more important now that ever before. What also hasn’t changed is the leadership mandate of serving a cause bigger than personal ego. The rest is new findings, not a rehash of old results. Emphasis is on long-term strategy – a 20 mile march. Hopefully we have learned by now that a focus on short-term results leads to trouble if not extinction. I love the concept of ‘zoom-out then zoom-in’ – holding both a mega and micro view builds on what we know of complexity theory that is driving business results, SMaC (specific, methodical and consistent) and the genius of the ‘and’. A worthwhile read.
This is one of the best books I have read in a long time. Authors, Mario Raich and Simon Dolan have produced an intriguing roadmap into our future – business and society in transformation. Dolan, a professor at ESADE is one of the reasons why Barcelona has one of the best business programs in the world. This book will give you a taste of where business needs to focus in order to survive in this new economy. It also shows why North America is falling behind in innovation.
Ken Robinson is one of my favorites on ted.com. His original ted talk in 2006 on how our school system kills creativity is worth watching. His second performance at Ted in 2010, Robinson’s focus is on our crisis in human resources – the lack of creativity. He states that human resources are like natural resources – they are buried deep and you have to go digging for them. He calls for a revolution in education and I cannot agree more. Our schools are failing to develop the levels of creativity and innovation necessary to move us out of this economic crisis. Robinson compares our current education system to fast food where everything is standardized to the lowest common denominator. We need to do better if we are to survive.
In his new book, The Element, Robinson interviews some of the most successful people on the planet to discover how found a way to live their passion and survive. His point rests on our need for communities that have a diversity of talent, not a singular conception of ability. If we focus on our passion – that which excites our spirit and our energy – what a difference it makes to the health and wealth of our organizations and our communities.