Introverts and creativity


I came across this TED talk by author Susan Cain. I find her messages about our current pre-occupation with working together in groups interesting.

In my experience, companies tend to believe that the most creative ideas will emerge from group activities such as ‘brainstorming’ and team meetings. As an introvert, I have always known that my best ideas come to me when I am quiet and alone. Conversations and meetings beforehand will definitely have been an influence, but the creative spark happens alone in my case.

How about you? And if you are a leader, how are you catering for the needs of the more introverted people in your company? Do they have opportunities to create too, or do their quieter voices get drowned out by the more extroverted types?


Seeing with fresh eyes



… seeing with fresh eyes may be one of the hardest parts of the innovation process. You have to put aside your experience and pre-conceived notions. You have to drop your skepticism and tap into a childlike curiosity and open-mindedness. Without that sense of wonder and discovery, you’re likely to be blind to the opportunities right before your eyes. (Tom Kelley, The Ten Faces of Innovation)

Playing devil’s advocate


” … the Devil’s Advocate may be the biggest innovation killer in America today.” (Tom Kelley, The Ten Faces of Innovation)

Anyone who has worked in Corporate Land will be familiar with that sinking feeling. You’ve pitched your great idea to the members of the board or your team at the monthly meeting. There’s the briefest of pauses as your last hopeful words leave your lips. From the far end of the table, someone smiles in a superior way and pipes up: “If I could just play devil’s advocate for a moment …” You know that they are about to launch into a stinging attack on your newborn baby of an idea and kill it stone dead within moments, rejoicing in your ritual humiliation as they go. Continue reading

Work with a capital W


“What is my job on the planet with a capital J?” Jon Kabat-Zinn, Wherever you go, there you are

In his book on mindfulness in everyday life, Kabat-Zinn tells the story of inventor, Buckminster Fuller. Apparently, Fuller felt so depressed following a succession of business failures, that at the age of 32, he considered committing suicide. Continue reading

Dream teams


I am not talking about the World Cup here. (Nothing is less likely.) I’m talking about the kind of teams you long to lead or belong to. Creative, sparky, fun – in short, a joy to work with. Projects become a symphony written by talented soloists, each drawing on their particular strengths to contribute to the whole, to something bigger, braver and better. The leader is simply a facilitator, smoothing the path to ensure nothing impedes the progress of these artists.

Hold on.

Sometimes it’s not like this at all. Some teams are held together by nothing stickier than a department title. Continue reading

Licence to create


A concise blog post from Seth Godin set me thinking this morning. Let me ask you a question: who are you waiting for permission from before you act creatively?

Are you waiting for permission from your boss, your best friend, Simon Cowell, God, your art teacher, the mums at the school gate, your parents (living or dead), your horoscope, Aunt Lilian, Mozart, those guys in the finance department, your in-laws or a blue moon?

Who has the power to act? You, or this other party? And what happens if they never give their permission? Continue reading