Kids deserve creativity

As the new school year starts, I always find it shocking how poorly many schools develop children’s creativity. Although creativity and innovation is fundamentally important for economic growth, in most schools it has become totally subservient to the need to push kids through ever more tests. Continue reading Kids deserve creativity

Natural creativity.

The other day I asked Mike (a pseudonym) , a mid-career manager “How’s it going?”  He replied with quite a tirade.

The essence was that while on holiday, he’d had the space to think about the underlying causes of problems he spent his working days battling with. He had just written (but thankfully not yet sent) a steaming email to his boss demanding that the problems were fixed, or he’d leave.  We discussed the issue (basically, a chaotic production department run by an increasingly alcoholic manager producing defective products that upset Mike’s customers) and came up with a constructive solution that he could propose to his boss.

This is of course the holiday season, and I find it interesting how common it is for people to return from holiday having had important creative insights into their careers or problems at work. Continue reading Natural creativity.

That Vision Thing

The other day I was helping develop some future scenarios, set in 15 years time, envisaging some of the surprising business consequences of the clean-tech energy transition.

Envisaging future scenarios is something I love doing, and I find it really quite easy.  It always surprises me that some people find it very hard, because it is an important skill, and one that can be developed. Continue reading That Vision Thing

Brexit as Innovation

As the UK embarks on the complicated process of negotiating itself out of the EU, I found myself reflecting about the parallels with innovation.

Many R&D managers will recognise the feeling of being asked to achieve a complex multifaceted project with an apparently impossible timescale and distracting internal politics, while being under-resourced and under huge pressure to “just get on with it”.  Continue reading Brexit as Innovation

Coffee Time Conversation: Brainstorming

Brainstorming is a 15 minute podcast of a conversation on brainstorming between Anne Miller and Ieva Martinaityte, Creativity Researcher at the University of East Anglia.  It discusses the brainstorming rules, the role of the facilitator and various tools and techniques you can use to achieve a good result.

It should be very useful if you need to facilitate a creative workshop.

To brainstorm, or not to brainstorm?

Probably the best known ideation technique of all is brainstorming.  In this, a group of around 6-12 people get together to develop new ideas, guided by a facilitator and a few basic rules. These rules can be summarised as

  • build on previous ideas,
  • encourage wild ideas,
  • go for quantity,
  • no negativity.

Continue reading To brainstorm, or not to brainstorm?

Voyaging into an uncertain future.

The world can seem an uncertain, dangerous place at the moment.  As I write, the consequences of the Brexit vote are still uncertain in a wide range of fields. The Labour party is in turmoil, Syria is in rather worse turmoil, terrorism continues, climate change continues, and we look with incredulity at the prospect of a Trump presidency. Continue reading Voyaging into an uncertain future.

Creativity in times of uncertainty

Given the recent political turmoil, with Brexit, terrorist outrages and leadership elections all over the place,  it’s easy to feel unsettled.  This sense of unease can have knock-on consequences on our ability to be creative and come up with new ideas, even in the nominally separate world of R&D. Continue reading Creativity in times of uncertainty

Breaking the cycle of distrust

Whatever happens as a result of the current political turmoil, we’ll have to work together and be creative if we’re to solve the problems ahead of us.

I believe that an underlying problem is that over the last few decades, particularly in the English-speaking world, we’ve developed a box ticking culture in many of our institutions which involves a cycle of lack of trust, fear, risk aversion and micromanagement.  This plays out in our political systems, our education system, our healthcare systems, our banks and many corporations. It is damaging creativity, and making it increasingly impossible for leaders to lead. Continue reading Breaking the cycle of distrust