The Creative Leader: Part 6

Great leaders not only value the ideas of others…they create the necessary space and environment for those ideas to percolate and evolve.

When it comes to building creative and innovative organizations, there is one messages that constantly stands out.

Creativity is a collaborative act.

Which is why it is vitally important to avoid, what both Austin Kleon and David Burkus refer to as the fabled “lone genius” myth.  A dangerous and detrimental deterrent to engaging and sustaining creativity and innovation within individuals and across organizations.

According to Austin Kleon in ‘Show Your Work’“If you believe in the lone genius myth, creativity is an antisocial act, performed by only a few great figures…” For which he continues, “The rest of us are left to stand around and gawk in awe at their achievements.”

Which is important for leaders and organizations to internalize.  When we buy into this fabled “myth of creativity”…it can diminish not only how we perceive creativity and innovation to work, but how we attempt to engage it within our people and organizations.

In his book, ‘The Myths of Creativity’, David Burkus refers to this same idea of the “Lone Creator Myth”.  Burkus shares, “It’s the belief that creativity is a solo performance and that the story of innovations can be told as the story of a single person working fervently on the new idea.”

Which is an ideal that most of us have internalized and mentally stamped in regards to great creatives, or creatives in general.  We’ve romanticized the process.  Which is unfortunate and can often lead us to a twisted and unrealistic view of how creativity and innovation occurs.  And while it sometimes may exist in this form, creativity is most often not about the lone individual, hidden away in some small space, hunched over, working feverishly over some great idea or piece of work that they will eventually unveil to the world at some future time.  Rather…

Creativity is a collaborative act.

Whether it is in how Burkus views creativity as a “team effort”

”Once we realize that creativity is a team effort and understand how to develop the most creative teams, we can generate even more great ideas.”

Or Kleon’s reference to Brian Eno’s idea of “scenius”, in which…

”Under this model, great ideas are often birthed by a group of creative individuals…who make up an ‘ecology of talent.”

For which Kleon adds,

“Scenius doesn’t take away form the achievements of those great individuals; it just acknowledges that good work isn’t created in a vacuum, and that creativity is always, in some sense, a collaboration, the result of a mind connected to other minds.”

But either way, we must begin to better understand that…

Creativity is a collaborative act.

When we start to see creativity and innovation from this viewpoint, it changes how we engage in and outside of our organizations. We begin to understand that sharing does not take away, but adds to the ideas and creativity that we have.  As individuals and as organizations.  Which takes us back to that old adage…’the more we give away, the more we get back’.  And we begin to start to seeing creativity less in the sense of that lone, individual act and more from of a connected, collaborative process.

To engage and build more creative and innovative organizations, we have to begin to change the story and “myths” that often surround these two forces.  When we begin to understand that creativity and innovation is a collaborative and social act, when we acknowledge that we enrich our creativity and ideas when we share often and broadly…we can hook into two of Google’s “Eight Pillars of Innovation”.  Which also align closely with the work of Austin Kleon in ‘Show Your Work’

“Look for Ideas Everywhere”

and

“Share Everything”

Which speaks to the idea that creativity and innovation are not lone acts. They stem from collaborative activities where we gather and share…building and gaining from one another.  Connected and engaged.  Gaining and giving, simultaneously.  For which we must remember…

Creativity is a collaborative act.

It is not enough to have great ideas…if you never choose to put them out there where people can see, grapple and engage with them.

The Creative Leader: Part 5

“The human mind craves resolution of unresolved patterns, it waits expectantly for that resolution…” -Todd Henry ‘The Accidental Creative’

Creativity and innovation do not only come from how we determine to allow ourselves to engage, but also in reaction to those barriers and obstacles that we determine to strip away.

In Todd Henry’s work, ‘The Accidental Creative’…he focuses on what he calls the “three assassins of the creative process” which he names as “dissonance, fear, and expectation escalation.”  Fear and expectations are areas that we’ve had a tendency to discuss extensively.  Whereas, dissonance as a “creative assassin” is a concern that is often left unattended and off the table, especially for leading creativity and innovation in today’s organizations.

But before we go any farther, it might be best if we have a strong working knowledge of what dissonance is…

According to Google, dissonance is “A tension or clash resulting from the combination of two disharmonious or unsuitable elements.”

For which Todd Henry shares that, “resolving dissonance is one of the main functions of creative thought.”

Most of us realize that dissonance exists all around us.  We face dissonance in our personal lives.  And for most of us, we face dissonance in our professional lives.  Dissonance between what a leader says and what they do.  Dissonance between what our organization’s purport to value and what they truly reward.  Dissonance between the ‘busy’ work we are given and the ‘real’ work that needs to be done.  Dissonance daily between what we see and what we hear.  And to an even deeper level, as Todd Henry shares in ‘The Accidental Creative’”The most significant dissonance within organizations exists when the “why” of our work isn’t lining up with the “what” of our day-to-day activity.”

For which, you might be saying to yourself, what does this have to do with being a creative leader and engaging greater levels of creativity and innovation in our organizations?

And the answer would be…a lot!

For which Henry continues towards why dissonance can and will eventually be devastating to creativity and innovation…”When this happens our minds go to work to try to resolve these misalignments and much of our creative problem-solving bandwidth is hijacked by our mind’s need to resolve these environmental incongruities.”  He pushes further, saying that…”These points of dissonance cause us to feel perpetually uneasy and make it difficult for us to know how to engage in our work.”

Which is why dissonance is such a creative concern.  When we feel anxious, when we focus our thinking on the wrong things, our mental capacity is soaked up on that which has nothing to do with creativity and innovation.  We spend our limited mental energy and focus on things that are not worthwhile, leaving little or no capacity for the real, necessary, and meaningful work that truly drives our organizations forward.

Which is why Todd Henry expounds in ‘The Accidental Creative’ that…”One of the most important responsibilities of a creative leader is to eliminate these little areas of dissonance as often as possible.”  Which means that creative leaders must remain vigilant and constant in aligning the “why” and the “what” within the organization.

To make sure that dissonance does not drain away from the creative and innovative capacity of the organization.

According to Henry, there are three types of dissonance that serve to dilute the creative energy of an organization…”unnecessary complexity”, “unclear objectives” and “opacity”.

Let’s take a quick look at these three creativity killers:

  • “Unnecessary Complexity” – which at some time or another, we’ve all experienced or dealt with in both our personal and professional lives.  Whether that be with a change initiative or even a new idea.  We’ve long had the tendency to take a simple solution or idea and add layer after layer until what was once simple has become difficult and unwieldy.  Henry shares, which is vital for all creative leaders to remember…”You need to be diligent about asking yourself, “Can I make this process more simple?”  Otherwise, “unnecessary complexity” will eventually cause dissonance.
  • “Unclear Objectives” – even though we may work with a problem or “project extensively”, Henry concludes that, “the objectives are still unclear, and we’re uncertain about what we’re really trying to do.”  As a creative leader, it is vital to provide clarity and deep understanding around the end goal…of what we are trying to accomplish and to clearly state and know what is needed to hit the target.  As Henry shares in ‘The Accidental Creative’”It’s astounding to me how often I encounter people who are stuck on a creative problem and can’t articulate what they’re trying to accomplish.”  It is difficult for people to unleash their thinking in creative and innovative ways when they are focused on trying to determine what the objective or goal truly is…and what it is they are trying to accomplish.  Otherwise, “unclear objectives” will eventually cause dissonance.
  • “Opacity” – brings us back to the issue of “why”.  Which adds to the importance of openness and clarity in our organizations.  When decisions are made in secret and transparency is lacking or non-evident, it causes confusion and frustration.  When the “why” is not explained, or is not clear, people will then choose to make their up their own conclusions as to the “why”.  Be that right or wrong.  Or as Henry provides, “The more opaque the decision-making process, the more likely that misinterpretation and misalignment will follow.” For which he adds, “The clearer the organization can be about why decisions are made, the better.”  Otherwise, “opacity” will eventually lead to dissonance.

While we don’t speak much about dissonance, we know it exists…from the individual up to the organizational level.  And the confusion it causes often gets in the way of creative ideas, creative thinking, and the creative process.

As a creative leader, it is important to reflect not only your leadership, but the organization as a whole and the many ways that dissonance is interrupting the flow of creativity and innovation at all levels.  It is this reflective process that allows us to align our “why” and “what” towards an organization that will ultimately be able to effectively push out the creativity killers.

“Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.”  -Charles Mingus via ‘The Accidental Creative’

Quotes and references taken from…

Henry, Todd. 2011. The Accidental Creative: How to Be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice. Penguin Group US.

The Creative Leader: Part 4

Empathy is often the eye that opens up a whole new world of seeing…

We have this tendency, even in today’s modern world, to view our creatives as these lone, isolated, often misunderstood individuals that generate an incredible array of ideas and work in closed off seclusion.  And while this fabled belief still stands as a false misnomer and representation of not only how creativity is activated, it tends to have a negative effect on how we view our creative people and how they work.

Which means as leaders, we not only have to build a better understanding of how to engage more creativity and innovation…we have to reframe our idea of what we need to look for and aim to build up in those within our organizations.

Which means, as Jim Collins shared in his seminal work ‘Good to Great’…we need to get the “right people in the right seats on the bus”

The problem is, we don’t always get to choose what people are on what seats on the bus. Very often, the bus is fully loaded and ready to go when we arrive.  And when we do get that choice…we need to not only be aware, but know what to look for if we are going to bring more creative and innovative people on board that organizational bus.

Which means not only in hiring, but in the training, professional learning and development we provide to those in our organizations.  We might begin by considering what Tim Brown of IDEO refers to as “T-shaped persons”.  Which is anything but the lone, secluded and misunderstood creative that we often think of.

So, the question then is…what is a “T-shaped person” and how do they support more creative and innovative organizations?

As Tim Brown shares in his Fast Company article, ‘Strategy by Design’“T-shaped people have a principal skill that describes the vertical leg of the T…but they are so empathetic that they can branch out into other skills and do them well.”  Brown adds that “you get good insights by having an observant and empathetic view of the world.  You can’t just stand in your own shoes; you’ve got to be able to stand in the shoes of others.”

Or as Amy Birchall shares in her article ‘T-Shaped People: The New Employees of the Digital Age’“While the T-shaped people can work in a range of disciplines,” they are “creative and make good collaborators.”  She adds, “T-shapes have depth of skill in one discipline, which is represented by the vertical of the letter ‘T’.  They also have an ability to collaborate across disciplines, which are represented by the ‘T’s’ horizontal bar.” 

It is these definitions that outline the ‘why’ for T-shaped people being vital to having more creative and innovative organizations.

T-shaped people are the cross-pollinators of our organizations.  Their creative, collaborative and empathetic spirit allows them to not only share their own strengths, but to gain insights and learning from those outside of their strength areas.  They are not the independent, isolated workers that we’ve been led to believe, in regards to our highly creative people.  Rather, they are more interdependent, than independent in their work.  They are strong networkers who engage a level of empathy that enables them to connect in ways with others that allow them to glean ideas and understandings far beyond their strength areas.

T-shaped people are multi-dimensional individuals…who are both deep and wide.

To better engage creativity and innovation within and throughout our organizations, it is not only in the processes we engage, but our ability to increase the capabilities of those within.  We have to build up and strengthen not only the ‘horizontal’ but the ‘vertical’ capacities of those we lead.

If we want more ideas, more creativity, more innovation…we have to bring and build up more “T-shaped people” at all levels of our organizations.

When you work outside your strengths, you have a tendency to cast off preconceived ideas and notions that can stifle creativity and innovation…

The Creative Leader: Part 3

“Many of us assume that our creative process is beyond our ability to influence…”  -Todd Henry ‘The Accidental Creative’

The problem is that we often believe that creativity will either happen or it won’t.  We don’t work from the understanding that we have control and influence over creativity…in our thinking, our ideas, our work, and our life.  We still have a tendency to treat creativity as these ‘aha’ moments of revelation that magically appear from nowhere.  And while it may feel as if this is the case…it is far removed from the truth.

Creativity exists in each of us…unfortunately for many, it has been suppressed and held below the surface for so long that it has lost its ability to resurface.

Each day we are absorbing the world around us and the stimuli that it is constantly pushing out.  Stimuli and information that provides us with more and more dots…dots that we are constantly trying to connect in meaningful ways that help us make better sense of our world.  Which is why creativity not only requires persistence and hard work on our part…it requires mindfulness.

It requires us to not only accept these dots mindlessly, but to consider them…allowing them to incubate and percolate in our mind, twisting and turning them about, and eventually allowing ourselves to connect and smash them together in new and interesting ways that initiate and engage new ideas and new ways of thinking.

In Michael Michalko’s article ‘Creative Thinking and Leondardo Da Vinci’ from Think Jar Collective, he shares that “one particular thinking strategy that stands out about creative genius, is the ability to make juxtapositions that elude…”  Which he references as the “facility to connect the unconnected…to see relationships to which others are blind.”  He continues that, “In order to get original ideas, you need a way to create new sets of patterns in your mind.”  And to do this, to ‘connect the unconnected’ requires us to remove ourselves from mindlessly accepting the information and stimuli that we are taking in…to be mindful, creative and imaginative in taking these dots and experimenting with them in order to create new and interesting connections.  As leaders, we would be well to remember…

Creativity is not just in the inventing…it is in connecting.  Connecting ideas in a way that people say, “Why didn’t I see that?”

As a creative leader, we must recognize that, just like creativity, everyone has their own set of dots they connect in their own original way…and some just have a tendency to connect them more uniquely than others.  And we have to learn to embrace that uniqueness.  To be careful not to disvalue or dismiss those connections away, as well as the thinking and ideas of others.  If we are going to extract higher levels of creativity and innovation from our organizations, we are going to have to learn to curb the quickness of our critical voices.  Or we will find that our creative and innovative voices will quiet themselves and slowly wither away.

To be more creative, to be more innovative, to uniquely engage the thinking, ideas and dots of those in our organization…we are going to have to spend more time engaging what Tom Kelley in the ‘Ten Faces of Innovation’ refers to as the “the learning personas”.  It is these three “learning personas” or “learning roles” that keep an organization from becoming complacent.  Each of which are vital to a creative leader for remaining a learner and engaging that ‘learner mindset’ within and throughout the organization.

Those three “learning personas” that Tom Kelley refers to are…“the anthropologist”, “the experimenter” and “the cross-pollinator”.  Let’s take a brief look at those three “personas” to better understand how they can serve us and our organizations for better creativity and innovation.

  • The Anthropologist – according to Tom Kelley the work of the ‘anthropologist’ is to “bring new learning and insights into the organization by observing human behavior and developing a deep understanding of how people interact physically and emotionally…”
  • The Experimenter – whereas, the work of the ‘experimenter’ is to “prototype new ideas continuously, learning by a process of enlightened trial and error.  The experimenter takes calculated risks to achieve success through a state of “experimentation as implementation.”
  • The Cross-Pollinator – and finally, this ‘persona’ is seen by Tom Kelley as necessary to “explore other industries and cultures, then to translate those findings and revelations to fit the unique needs of your enterprise.”

All of which will be required abilities necessary of today’s creative leader.  To serve as a creative leader in today’s modern organizations will require not only ‘connecting the unconnected’ and engaging the three ‘learning personas’…but the realization that more empathy, better listening, greater levels of observation…and a mindfulness towards the amount of influx of information and stimuli that is overloading our mental systems daily will be needed.

Today’s creative leaders aren’t just looking for the next model to implement…they are looking for those creative and unique dots to connect together in ways that change how we think and do.

It is not enough to see the value in creativity and innovation…we have to determine how we will influence it within our organizations.

“Ineffective people live day after day with unused potential.  They experience synergy only in small, peripheral ways in their lives.  But creative experiences can be produced regularly, consistently, almost daily in people’s lives.  It requires enormous personal security and openness and a spirit of adventure.”  -Stephen Covey taken from Keith Sawyer’s ‘Zig Zag: The Surprising Path to Greater Creativity’

The Creative Leader: Part 2

As a leader, your job is not to continually implement the past…your work is in helping your organization discover the future…

We live in an answer-driven world.

People don’t want more questions, they want answers.  All questions have a tendency to do is slow down our current level of action and productivity, while creating more and more uncertainty.

Whereas, answers provide us with a feeling of progress.  Especially, since we have been trained for the majority of our lives to focus on the answers.  We’ve ingrained the notion into our societal mindset that strong leadership is about having all the answers…and to appear otherwise portrays a sense of weakness and indecisiveness.

According to Warren Berger, from his work ‘A More Beautiful Question’“The problem with asking questions, for some business leaders, is that it exposes a lack of expertise and, in theory, makes them vulnerable.”

And yet, the most creative and courageous thing we can do as leaders, is to allow ourselves to be vulnerable.  To shake off the facade of the ‘expert’ that closes off the creative thinking of many leaders…and learn to embrace a ‘learner’ mindset.

To be less knowing, and a little more unknowing…

Or as Berger shares from the legendary leadership guru Peter Drucker…“Drucker understood that his job was not to serve up answers.”  “Drucker once remarked that his greatest strength was “to be ignorant and ask a few questions.”

The problem is that there is a false safety in answers, in knowing.  We rely too heavily on those answers.  The problem with being answer-focused is that we begin to ask fewer and fewer questions, as we already have the answers.  We become less and less inquisitive, less and less creative, and less and less innovative.  And we no longer ask the questions that keep us moving forward, that keep us relevant in a constantly changing world.

The problem is that when we rely too heavily on those answers…we often lose the understanding that the answers eventually change.

It is when we have the courage to be more vulnerable, to be less-knowing and more asking…that we create the environment for more creative and innovative thinking to occur.  But it is here, often facing the unanswered and unknowns, that our greatest growth and learning will eventually occur.  It is in our vulnerability that strength is acquired.  It is in our questions, more than our answers, that we provide the permission and the impetus to encourage and unleash the creative and innovative thinking of those we lead within our organizations.

Warren Berger shares in ‘A More Beautiful Question’ not only the importance of questions, but how the most innovative companies (IDEO, Google, Facebook) are using questions as the approach to garner the best creativity and innovation from those within their organizations.  And at the core of this, is what they refer to as the “HMW Methodology” of questioning.

“A specific form of questioning using three words – How might we? It’s a simple way of ensuring that would-be innovators are asking the right questions and using the best wording.” Berger continues by sharing how Tim Brown, the Chief Executive at IDEO uses this “How might we?” strategy to begin any challenge…“each of those three words plays a role in spurring creative problem solving: the How part assumes there are solutions out there – it provides creative confidence.”  Might says we can put ideas out there that might work or might not – either way, it’s okay.  And the we part says we’re going to do it together and build on each other’s ideas.”

So the next time we find ourselves spinning our wheels, determined to find the best answers. We may want to spend a bit more time determining, not only if we are asking enough questions, but are we asking the right questions.

We may simply want to begin by asking, “How might we?”

“The most important thing leaders must do today is to be the ‘chief question-asker’ for their organization.”  -Dev Patnaik from Warren Berger’s ‘A More Beautiful Question’

References and quotes from…

Berger, Warren.  A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas. 2014. Bloomsbury USA, New York

The Creative Leader: Part 1

Too often people want answers…not more questions.  For the most part, we would much rather just move on, then move forward…

In the Newsweek article, The Creativity Crisis, Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman share findings from an “IBM poll of 1,500 CEOs” that “identified creativity as the No. 1 ‘leadership competency’ of the future.” They continue that, “all around us are matters of national and international importance that are crying out for creative solutions.”  And yet, since 1990 we have seen that “creativity scores have consistently inched downward.”  In the same article, Kyung Hee Kim at the College of William and Mary informs us that “it’s very clear, and the decrease is significant.”  Kim continues that “it is the scores of younger children in America – from kindergarten through sixth grade – for whom the decline is ‘most serious’.”

All around us we hear the rallying cry for more creativity, more innovation…from the classroom to the boardroom.  

We all see its importance, its necessity as a defining skill in today’s knowledge economy.  Yet, we struggle to truly determine what it is, what it looks like, what it sounds like…and how we make it happen, at scale.  So we throw around slogans in our organizations, such as, ‘Think Different’ because we think it sounds good…not necessarily because we want people, too.

In most organizations, we learn to keep our head down, just trying to keep pace and roll positively with the ongoing flood of new initiatives and mandates.  

Asking questions, pushing ideas, invoking new ways of thinking and doing, are often seen as a stance of insubordination or a lack of understanding and knowledge.  Neither of which most people want to be associated with, especially if you want to keep moving up the organizational ladder.

So we have a tendency to suppress our questions, our ideas, even our creative and innovative thinking, not because we want or think we are wrong or off-base…but because of how we think others will look at, think about, or even talk about or judge us.  And it is that collegial or managerial pressure that often inhibits and slowly buries away our creative and innovate thinking…at all levels of the organization.

However, if we are ever going to increase the levels of creativity and innovation occurring from the classroom to the boardroom…we need leaders who can tap in and scale creative and innovative thinking across their organizations.  We need leaders who themselves, are creative and innovative thinkers.

We need creative leaders who, can in turn, create the organizational environment and culture that provides permission for creativity and innovation to exist and flourish…

David Burkus, author of the ‘Myth of Creativity’, supports this in his article, ‘Why Do We Keep Creative People Out Of Leadership Roles’ from the Creativity Post, in which he shows “studies reveal that more creative people are better able to lead positive change in organizations and are better equipped to inspire followers.”  However, the story does not end on that positive note, rather he goes on to tell that “most creative people aren’t given the opportunity to lead.”  He adds, “we love stories of creative people; we just don’t want to be led by them.”  

The question then…is why?

Burkus imparts that “Creative people are associated with breaking molds and working in unconventional ways while leaders are asked to provide structure and order to the organization, not the assumed disorder that comes with being ‘creative’.”  In the same article, Burkus shares evidence from two studies in which researchers found that those they studied showed “a negative correlation between creativity and leadership potential” as well participants saying “they desired creative ideas, but subconsciously rejected creativity.”

Which ultimately means that we are going to have to more intentional in building better understanding around creativity and what it really is…especially if we are going to establish the conditions and environment that allows for more creative and innovative organizations.

And to do that, we are going to have to allow for more creative and innovative leaders.

We can no longer just expound on the importance of creativity and innovation in our new knowledge economy, rather we need leaders who can generate better understandings in and of creativity if we are to ever create the conditions to bring it to scale in our organizations.

We are all creative and innovative, the problem is that we have suppressed it for so long, we no longer have the belief that it still resides and exists within us…

 

The Idea Gatherer: A Forager Mindset

If you constantly plant the same seeds every year…why would you ever expect a different crop to grow?

For much of our history, we’ve tended to live more of a nomadic, forager existence as people.  What we might now refer to as hunter-gatherers.  We existed in a constant search for plants and animals that would support and sustain our day to day survival.  Or, as The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Hunter-Gatherers says: “Hunting and gathering was humanity’s first and most successful adaptation, occupying at least ninety-percent of human history.  Until 12,000 years ago, all humans lived this way.”

That is, until we began to create a more agricultural society.  One that allowed us to exist on the crops we grew and the animals we domesticated.  A society that broke down the need for that day to day nomadic, forager existence.  A way of living that allowed us to settle down…ultimately growing villages, towns, and cities.  A much more stable and comfortable way of life.

And while each way of life has a multitude of positives, drawbacks, and hardships.  There are a few reflections from these two ways of living and existing that we can overlay onto the thinking and mindsets that exist in our current institutions and organizations.  Let’s look at a few of those;

  • Hunter and Gatherer Thinking – hunter and gatherer societies were seldom settled.  It required a nomadic existence and a constant search for subsistence if people were to survive.  That way of thinking can serve us well in current organizations and institutions.  We have a tendency to get settled, comfortable, especially as our organizations grow and expand.  When we have to remember that it is necessary for today’s organizations and institutions to be on a constant search for new ways of thinking, new ideas, as well as new ways of being and doing.  Especially, f we are to survive, grow and flourish as organizations and institutions.  If we are ever to become true learning organizations.  This search should serve as an important part of our existence…it should be stamped into our DNA.
  • Agricultural Thinking – too often we can become comfortable and settled in our organizations and institutions…with our thinking, our ideas, and our ways of doing things.  Too often, “that is how we do things around here” creeps in and becomes our mantra.  When that occurs, we begin to plant the same seeds and harvest the same crops year after year.  We tend to become stagnant and stale.  Eventually becoming more and more settled, relying on the same resources year after year.  When that thinking settles in and takes over, we no longer see the need to go out and search for new resources, new ideas, new ways of thinking, doing and being.
  • Forager Mindset – today’s organizations and institutions need to take on a ‘forager mindset’.  A constant search for those new ideas and new ways of thinking that keep our organizations and institutions growing and flourishing.  Which is not to say that we have to abandon ‘agricultural thinking’, but it does require us to search out new seeds, to invest in new crops, and to add new resources that reinvigorate the subsistence provided to the people within our organizations and institutions.  It requires us to engage in a constant search for these things if we are to improve our level of existence.  A ‘forager mindset’ allows us to be a bit more mobile and a bit more agile as organizations and institutions.

The ‘forager mindset’ requires us to be less comfortable, and a bit more unsettled.  It asks us to be a little less settled in our ways of thinking, being and doing.  The ‘forager mindset’ is about the ongoing search for new ideas and learning…daily.  As opposed to the ‘agricultural thinking’ which tends to be more event focused…looking to harvest that one big resource and staying with that for long periods of time.  Much less of a process, much more of an event.

As you reflect upon where your organization and/or institution resides…begin with the thinking and the mindset.  Especially if your intention is to create a true learning culture.

And you have to ask…are you ‘agricultural’ in focusing on the settled, the comfortable, the one-time big resource?

Or are you ‘gatherers and foragers…constantly searching out new learning, new ideas, and new ways of thinking, doing and being?