Ten Dimensions of Creative Climate
Summary of research by Dr. Göran Ekvall
During the 1970’s and 1980’s Göran Ekvall conducted surveys across 27 organizations. His research has been repeated and built upon in the US and other countries since then. Ekvall was trying to identify factors of psychological climate that influence creativity and innovation.
The following ten dimensions heavily influence innovative outcomes. Nine of the dimensions are positively correlated with innovation and Conflict is inversely correlated.
- Challenge/Engagement - How involved are people in daily operations, long term goals and vision?
- Freedom - To what degree do people act independently within the organization?
- Trust/Openness - How safe do people feel emotionally?
- Idea Time - How much time is allocated to coming up with and working on new ideas?
- Playfullness & Humor - To what degree do employees exhibit spontaneity and ease in the workplace?
- Idea Support - How are new ideas treated?
- Open Debate - Is there room for healthy disagreement?
- Risk Taking - How much is uncertainty and ambiguity tolerated?
- Dynamism - How many different types of things are going on? Do employees feel stimulated?
- Conflict - Are there interpersonal and emotional tensions?
Which dimension do you believe is
the most critical in your organization?
The Modern Renaissance Person
By Shane Sasnow
At the 2010 Cre8Camp in Portland Oregon I facilitated a conversation about what it means to be a modern renaissance person. It was an interesting and informative conversation overall.
We talked about what it meant to be a renaissance man historically, how modern renaissance people differ from the historical model, peoples personal experiences as ‘renaissance’ types in the modern world, what it means and how to enact it. One of the things I find most interesting is that it’s impossible to really be a renaissance person because the renaissance is long past. In another few hundred years they will look back upon our time and see a few geniuses and label them something…but it probably wont be ‘renaissance person’.
The group offered these characteristics of the original renaissance men:
- They had patrons
- Multiple or spectrum of talents
- They spanned what we now define as arts and science
- Outside the box
Then the group added these characteristics for the modern ‘renaissance’ person:
- Risk taker
- Cutting/bleeding edge
- Culturally curious
- Well connected
- Specialist in 3 to 4 fields
- Jack of all trades (variety of box oriented things)
- Understanding their capacities
After hearing stories from many of the audience members some themes showed up about being a modern creative (possible renaissance type person):
- Corporate structure is detrimental.
- Some people are able to get more done and sleep less (this is an advantage).
- We are aggressive learners and like to be constantly stimulated; which is great and dangerous in a world where information is endless and fascinating (both an advantage and a disadvantage simultaneously) and runs the risk of keeping you from ever producing anything because we spend our time learning everything.
- It’s challenging to sell “new” (just learned and good) skills when people expect expertise only from years of experience.
- We are able to identify a huge list of things we don’t want to, or can’t, learn.
- It’s so easy to dabble in many things how do you differentiate yourself as a skillful modern renaissance person?
- We are largely sole proprietors and entrepreneurs…some by choice and some because there is no other way to function in the world.
- It’s challenging to sell yourself when you have a non-traditional skill set mix.
The finale of the conversation was determining how to be effective as a modern renaissance person:
- Find a balance between intake (learning) and output (creating).
- PASSION is KEY in everything you do.
- 2-4 areas of high level specialized skill based on your passion (with the understanding that some skill sets will become obsolete or outdated and may need to be replaced)
- Don’t be too humble…you got to get your stuff (whatever it is) out there for people to see…get a portfolio.
In the end the title is unimportant. What is important is that you CREATE, CREATE, CREATE. Once you have mastered some skills well enough to execute them effectively use them to make stuff. Then cross pollinate your skill sets and make stuff that others haven’t made before.
To all who were involved in the conversation, Thank you. It was most enjoyable.
By Charlie Allenson
That’s a pivotal line from Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. By coincidence, it was also the theme of a recent IB workshop: How to Pay Attention. And I was so pleased to be one of the presenters, along with Sharon de Korte.
How to Pay Attention was a workshop based on a combination critical thinking experiential and improv comedy exercises. It started with what was a decidedly trick question. Just moments after we called the workshop to order, a women walked in, asked a question, came toward the front of the room and asked the question again. Then left. We asked the participants to write down everything they remembered about the woman — clothes, hairstyle, what she was carrying, and the like. It was no surprise that so many of the blanks that needed to be filled in were wrong, and had been filled in by what the brain thought should be there. The participants thought we had tricked them – simply by not telling them that they needed to pay attention or what they should pay attention to. But isn’t that what so often happens in life? So it turns out not many actually paid close attention, which brought us to our first points of discussion: What’s important to pay attention to? How do we decide what’s important?
After some discussion the conclusion was you really don’t know what’s important until you need it. So how do you pay close attention to conversations, your surroundings to almost anything without having your mind explode? In just a few exercises, we gained some tools and insights into how to better pay attention and still keep your sanity.
Yes, And… We tend to think with our egos and not pay attention to what others are saying.
For example, you can have a conversation where someone says, “That program is too expensive.” You’d normally answer, “Yeah but it’s not.” And they’d say, “Yeah but it is.” Yeah, but it’s not” And on and on getting nowhere except pissing off your potential client. Now take that same conversation and substitute “and” for “but”. Yes, and… (You
don’t have to actually say, “Yes, and” just think it). “Yes, and I see your point. Let me show you how much you’re getting for your money.” It’s a way to keep the conversation going. And the longer you can keep it going, the better your chance for a positive outcome. It’s a simple, powerful premise that by just substituting the word “and” for the word “but” you can pay better attention to what’s going on and acknowledge the other person’s opinion (even though you think it sucks). Here are some of the insights by some of the participants:
- Constructive not destructive conversations
- Be more open to listening to the conversation
- Solution driven
- Turns negatives to positives
- Helps build a relationship.
- By paying attention, the experience was more memorable
- It was a broader experience
- Shows you how not to take things for granted
- Engages your curiosity for what, why and how things exist
- Appreciate the process of paying attention
Watch and Learn Pay attention even when not a word is spoken: Non-verbal communication. Participants were asked to construct an environment using only one repetitive motion. By paying attention the movement, each person could add to the scene by performing a complimentary movement. The challenge came in the form of interpreting what that first physical motion was by paying close attention. Here are some thoughts:
- Paying attention to body language can give you new insights
- Paying attention can help you put the pieces together
- Helps you see things through the eyes of others
So what did participants learn about paying attention? Paying closer attention is rewarding in its own right because you become more engaged with others and the world around you. And it helps you challenge your own assumptions and opens you to more possibilities and new solutions.
One exercise to try on your own: On your commute to work each day focus on a different object – doorways, trashcans, what people wear (e.g., shoes, watches, coats). It’s a great way to practice paying attention and keep your mind focused and fresh.
So pay attention. Because paying attention will pay you back.
Charlie Allenson is an Adaptive Thinking Coach with Improving with Improv
Apples or Oranges? Solve it with Janusian Thinking!
By Remo Nuzzolese
Janus was the first God in ancient Rome, worshipped hundreds of years before Christianity, he was probably the most important of all deities that populated the roman Pantheon. Janus, or Ianus in latin, was The Creator, God of beginnings and transitions, he presided doors, bridges, new enterprises and he is still giving his name to the first month of the year, January. He embodied elements of change and movement and because these are bidirectional, the God was symbolized with a two-faced head with the two faces looking at opposite directions, able to oversee past and future, left and right, in and out, two different states at the same time.
From here, Janusian Thinking, which is the ability to integrate conflicting elements with a unifying thought giving birth to a new idea that is coherent with the original elements and wider than them.
Many great thinkers in history have proven to – consciously or not – think and create in a Janusian way in the fields of science, politics and the arts: Einstein’s relativity theory, Louis Pasteur’s vaccine, Escher’s paradoxical images and the Mona Lisa’s enigmatic smile are just a few well known examples: a falling object can be perceived as steady, a poison can be its own remedy, a stream of water that falls as it ascends a tower, and so on…
Even easier to recognize it in some popular commercials: “Tough on Dirt - Gentle on Fabrics (Whirlpool Washers)”, “Bet You Can’t Say No to Yes (Dannon Yogurt)” and “Devilishly Good Taste, 90 Saintly Calories (Baskin Robbins Ice Cream).
Religions and spirituality are full of examples of opposing coexisting forces: God and Evil, Nirvana and Samsara and then we have this beautiful symbol, the Tao that integrates Ying and Yang, opposite energies functioning simultaneously as a unified larger principle.
So, how do we relate Janusian thinking to creativity and problem solving? We already know that creativity is also about connecting elements that are distant, putting things together in a new way to develop an original product. Now, imagine how much stronger and radical the answer to a problem would be if it could solve the original problem and its opposite. Janusian thinking is about increasing the complexity of a situation and use it to find more opportunities, is about thinking holistically in terms of AND rather than EITHER-OR without creating a separation between elements that are really not apart and refusing false trade-off between factors that can be integrated in one solution.
Next time you are facing a difficult problem that presents conflicting elements, imagine which are the commonalities, in which wider frame can you include both elements? It’s like being able to choose apples, oranges and the basket too.
These are some of the authors that I researched to write this post; you can easily Google them to dive deep in their interesting literature: