On February 5, 2019 Doug Shaw and I did a webinar with Jo Cook from Training Journal. We had a great conversation about how to use different forms of creativity to help your organisation do things differently.
You can watch the video here:
I have written this as a response to someone who is curious about what I do, but hasn’t been able to talk with me, I share my slightly edited response at his request.
First I have to start with a link to the videos on my website with a recommendation that you watch them, I’ll try not to repeat myself here.
The work I do is centred around helping people to rediscover their creativity. I work with organisations and individuals to do this.
With individuals we engage in a variety of creative activities and discussions about how they can be more creative in both their personal and professional lives. This conversation typically goes over a series of sessions during the course of a period of weeks or months.
In the case of organisations I work with them to look at ways to make their staff more creative, which leads to innovation so that the two are tied together in an organisational setting more so than in personal setting. We look at ways to bring these activities into the daily activities whether it’s in meetings or in the office environment in general– something they can do in their offices or cubicles or in a meeting room with some other people, we look at doing workshops on a regular basis as in an organisational setting it is more about culture change and employee engagement, which as we both know, studies have shown that increased/improved employee engagement has positive effects on the organisation and its profitability and success.
I come to this work through a path that started in accounting and information technology, then knowledge management. There’s more about that in the first part of the second video in the Creativity Chats series that I am doing with Paulina Larocca, so I won’t repeat that here, you can watch the video, here https://youtu.be/1jxUgHyTRDk
Our exchange started from your question about employee disengagement and ways to decrease it; usually people talk about increasing employee engagement rather than decreasing employee disengagement. I know I sent you a blog post from another site as well as the one on mine and that you are looking to put some dollars behind that. I think if you take figures from the Gallup studies that look at the consequences of increasing employee engagement by 10%, for example, it is going to give you the numbers you’re looking for its just that it’s the opposite of how you been thinking about it.
The creative leadership work that I talk about on my blog can be seen as a contributing factor in improving employee engagement so you may want to consider that too.
Anyway I hope this all helps let me know if you have questions.
What is KM about?
It depends on who you ask and what their experience is with it. Some people/organisations focus on technology, some on people, some on process, a very few recognise that it needs to be a balance among the three, and for good measure also create a strategy to support their plans and ideas and to ensure alignment with the organisation.
But beyond that, what is knowledge management about? Why do we/our organisations do it?
For many organisations and people the answer, has to do with learning, and being able to do their jobs efficiently and effectively. I always liked to say it’s about giving people the knowledge they need to do their jobs, whatever form that knowledge took. But, what if it’s not quite that easy, especially as jobs, like life, are becoming ever more complex?
It’s really not enough to give people a database or app or platform to share knowledge. It’s not enough to implement a lessons learned process, or communities of practice. All good and noble pursuits, but what if that’s not enough to deal with the complexity?
The World Economic Forum’s most recent Future of Jobs Report, a summary of which you can read here, says we need to be life long learners. It also lists the top 3 skills that are growing in need/importance:
What struck me most about the #1 item on that list, is that is is both analytical and creative, it requires “both sides of your brain” (yes, I know that we have found that that’s not physically how the brain actually works, but I like the metaphor of it, so I’m using it anyway). But so for so many people their creativity was educated and socialised right out of them. They needed to get good marks in school, do well at their jobs, etc. and so in order to fit in they learned to regurgitate facts and think like everyone else.
However, in today’s world, and in the world that is quickly coming at us, regurgitating facts and doing what we’re told, isn’t enough, doing the “same old, same old” isn’t enough. It’s time to look at things differently, to learn new ways of doing things, to re-learn our lost creativity. KM programs should be supporting that, after-all they are about organisational learning, creating new knowledge (which is innovation, by the way).
And, one of the best things about focusing on creativity and innovation is, people understand what those terms mean, no one understands what knowledge management is. Another great thing about creativity and innovation, is that there is lots of research that supports its importance to people and the workplace, something that can’t be said about KM (mostly because KM can’t decide what it is, not that it’s not useful).
So, for all you KM people out there, don’t you want to take your KM activities to the next level of organisational learning? Help make your organisations innovative and creative? Help them meet the challenges of the age we live in?
Let’s talk about helping people re-learn their creativity!
If you know me and/or have been following this blog, you know that since mid-July I have shifted my focus to creativity and innovation, something that I have been working on for the last six or more years.
As I have shifted focus I have reached out to some of you in my KM network, because I wanted to share the news with you and renew our connection. I also asked for a favour of some feedback on what I was doing or if you knew anyone who might be interested in what I’m doing. Most of you were happy to help, and a few of you admitted that you couldn’t, which was a perfectly acceptable answer.
Anyway, with that first round of feedback and conversations, I realised that I wasn’t doing a good job of conveying my excitement over my shift, and why I thought I was particularly relevant for KM programs. I’ve taken a few weeks to reflect on how to do this better and received some coaching about how to approach it and have developed a short slide deck, which you can see below.
I’d appreciate it if you have a couple of minutes (there are only 6 slides), to take a look at it and let me know what you think.
Let’s first start with: what is Creative Leadership?
Creative Leadership takes more calculated risks and keeps innovating in how they lead and communicate. They are ready to upset the status quo even if it is successful and are committed to ongoing experimentation with disruptive business solutions
In a 2010 study done by IBM (and cited in this HBR article) organisations that had creative leaders had 6 times higher revenue growth and planned to get 20% of their revenue from new sources in the near future.) The article also cites increased employee engagement as an outcome of Creative Leadership.
Why does this matter?
Well the revenue/profit connection is clear (I hope). But what does Employee Engagement have to do with anything?
Well, employees who are engaged in their jobs/careers are more productive, which leads to increased profitability. Because they are more engaged there is less absenteeism, increased loyalty, higher retention and thus lower turnover.
Employees who are satisfied and engaged are better at solving problems and engaging with customers (from the previously cited HBR article).
So, how do you bring Creative Leadership to your organisation?
Create a culture where it is okay to try and fail, a culture where it is acceptable to question the status quo, to unlearn and selectively forget past successes, and co-create new products and services with employees, customers, partners, and the wider community. Help staff re-learn how to be creative, because it was educated out of them.
Creative Leadership isn’t just about those higher up in the hierarchy having these skills, this is about everyone having these skills. In the knowledge economy, everyone is a leader and everyone is a follower. Creative Leaders create more Creative Leaders.
I have had a few people comment about the name Entelechy: what does it mean? It’s too hard, no one will understand. How do you pronounce it? Why?
Entelechy means: realisation of potential. When I saw it, I knew it was the name for my next adventure. It summed up where I am in my own career: realising my potential and it described what I wanted to help others do: realise their potential.
What has helped me realise my potential is the expanding out from my accounting and information technology background and exploring my other side, the non-analytical, creative side.
I started to do that after I finished my MBA and was working for a high technology company. I had all this time on my hands, what was I supposed to do now that I didn’t have to study? I tried all kinds of things, but painting grabbed my heart and soul. Then it became about how do I bring this into my day-job, and that is how I spent the last 7 years, exploring that idea, talking to people, reading, looking at research, and, of course, continuing my own creative journey, which has brought me to Berlin.
Berlin, the city that buzzes with the energy of creativity, whether it’s some kind of artistic endeavour (painting, dance, music, etc.) or the creativity of the start-ups that populate the multitude of co-working spaces.
This is where I have met other people like me, who want to bring this creativity into a business/organisational setting, to help employees be more engaged, connected, resilient.
There is support in popular press for this idea of bringing the “whole person” to work, not just a part of the person. Introducing a culture that supports creativity and innovation is the way to do that.
We are born creative, but it is educated out of many of us, it’s time to re-learn that and realise our potential.
Today (September 27, 2018), is the second time I have come across the term, “Collective Intelligence” in the last week. I liked it the first time I heard it and the first time I heard it was in reference to what knowledge management had evolved into at a large, international organisation.
The second time I came across it was earlier today, on the website of an organisation who seems to be doing work like I am doing: creativity, innovation, resilience, autonomy.
I am sure there are lots of other places that it is used, I’m sure the words aren’t new and the ideas expressed in both situations aren’t new. But what attracted me, was that they describe what I have done and what I am doing, which somehow reassured me that I wasn’t crazy for doing what I’m doing.
So, are you trying to capture, leverage, tap into the collective intelligence of your organisation? It seems that anecdotal evidence suggest using a combination of knowledge management activities, combined with creativity to give you innovative, unique results to help you realise your potential: Entelechy.
We need to talk, I can help you!
Wow, so much is happening, and I seem to have fallen behind in my plans to blog and share this experience more regularly as well as share interesting info about creativity and innovation. So, let me catch you up a bit.
In the last few weeks I have been planning and delivering a several workshop on creativity and innovation, and how to incorporate these ideas into people’s everyday lives, whether that is on a personal or professional level. It has been great fun, and I’ve received some wonderful, insightful feedback on how to make the workshops even better, which I am extremely grateful for!
I got a bit of disappointing news that the innovation trip to Silicon Valley that I was going to facilitate some sessions on was cancelled, and in fact the business unit that was in charge of the trip has been absorbed back into the main company, and none of the trips that were being planned are going to go ahead.
On Friday, September 7th, I attended my first Creative Mornings: Berlin meeting, the theme was <chaos>, which definitely spoke to me, both from the painting that I do, as well as my consulting work in knowledge management, where I had given myself the title, “Chief Chaos Organiser”. I enjoyed the session very much and am looking forward to future meetings. During the session the organiser stated that they were looking for a speaker for the October meeting, where the theme is <honesty> and I thought, I could do that, so was one of 4 people who spoke to him afterwards about speaking next month. The abstracts/outlines are being reviewed, so I don’t know right now, if mine will be selected or not.
While I was working on my abstract, I realised just how important this theme is to me. I went from thinking, “omg, what I am going to talk about?” to, “omg, I have so many things I could talk about, how am I going to narrow it down?”, which was a nice problem to have. The theme touches, not just my consulting work, but my painting.
The thread that runs through both areas of my life is the idea of being honest about who I am and what I want for my life. I went back to the idea of how creativity is educated out of us in order to conform and fit in and be like everyone else, and for myself, and many others, I have spent a great deal of time and effort to figure out what that is: what do I like, what do I want for my life, what career do I want, where do I want to live????
So much of what I learned in 20 years of education was about doing what was expected of me, trying to fit in, be like everyone else, make the adults in my life happy, somewhere along the line, I stopped asking the question, “what do I want”, and started asking the question, “what am I supposed to do?”, which is the totally wrong question to ask, although I only realised that years later.
I had learned so well, to not be honest about who/what I was and wanted, that I hadn’t even realised it, until NONE of it had worked out the way it was “supposed to” and I was left with nothing of what I was “supposed to have by now”.
Since that time, I have tried out lots of things, some I liked, some I didn’t. I hated rock climbing. But I love being self-employed and having the flexibility and freedom to do the things I have done: worked with international clients, spoken at conferences around the world, published various books and articles. I love the painting that I do, and sharing it with people in my exhibitions, and on my website. I love living in Berlin, and am so glad I made this move, it has opened up a whole new facet of my life, and I’m doing things I could never have done if I had stayed were I was. That’s not to say everything has been easy, the move to Berlin is quite possibly the most difficult thing I have ever done. Making new friends, getting connected and integrated into life here, and learning German (which is still a work-in-progress, but I refuse to give up), has been HARD, but I have no regrets, and am grateful and consider myself lucky to have this experience.
Starting Entelechy, is both the realisation of my own potential, and gives me the opportunity to help other’s realise their potential whether it’s on an organisational or personal level.
Entelechy is honestly who I am, and why I’m here.
It’s been 4 weeks since my transformative conversation with Paulina Larocca, and what a month it has been!
I am ever so grateful that we connected, I have Kristen Peterson to thank for that, and I am grateful that the other coach I had asked to work with me refused, for reasons which are his own.
In the last month I have started a new webpage (you’re on it) as well as a new Facebook page. I have written several blog posts about the shift and what I’m doing now. I have spoken to a great group of women at a Future Females event here in Berlin, and have lots of people/organisations talking to me about doing workshops and coaching with them, I am so excited! I am also working on a series of videos, which will be created over the next few months to share my thoughts and experiences with creativity and innovation, so keep an eye out for those.
If you have questions about any of this feel free to get in touch, even (or especially if) you are not in Berlin, this work is definitely not tied to location!
Looking forward to sharing this journey with you!
I have two degrees, an undergraduate degree in Accounting, and an MBA in Information Technology. Nice degrees, years and years of studying, useful, but ultimately very analytical, logical, process oriented, and rational. I spent most of the first 30 +/- years of my life being very process driven, analytical, rational, and results-driven.
When I finished I didn’t know what to do with myself.
I started to ask questions, try things out: going to the symphony, drawing, photography, painting…
I started to have fun.
I was more relaxed, less stressed, more curious, more confident, more resilient.
My personal and professional lives were more interesting, and satisfying.
I wanted to share my experience with others, and help them have these same benefits, and hopefully, reduce their learning curve, or at least move them along it, so now I am!