Tag: creative thinking

Weirdos And Mavericks In Whitehall?

weirdos and mavericks in whitehallMuch has been made in the press of Dominic Cummings and his desire to appoint ‘weirdos’ to all parts of the Civil Service. I have a couple of articles written a while ago about being a rebel and also appointing them. If you are interested read Harnessing The Power Of Rebels and Become A Rebel And Boost Your Career.

Dominic Cummings ‘vision will never happen for a number of reasons.

First of all Whitehall moves more slowly than an oil tanker, and to force it to do so would not just dismantle the machinery that keeps the UK running, it would put a giant bomb underneath it.

Secondly, and more importantly, creativity cannot be left to work on its own, unless of course, you live in a commune. All creative environments have very carefully crafted ‘containers’ to nurture the creativity and also extract the output of the creative processes. In an organisation this can be hard, but in Whitehall?

Finally, what is his strategy for doing this? Will he have a large sports hall full of weirdos all throwing in their ideas or will he replace many of the people in the Whitehall machinery with his alternative thinking recruits? Too many weirdos and he risks replacing one ‘establishment’ with another.

True creativity comes from a tension (think straight vs funny in comedy) and making use of that requires people with a true understanding of the problem, not just a love of sound bites.

I cannot deny that Whitehall does deserve a bit of a shakeup but there needs to be an end goal. Whitehall is a machine that does things (like run the country) it is not a playground or a think tank. The job in hand is not unlike trying to tune a racing car whilst it is being driven around a race track.

Maybe a good plan is to start small by picking a government department that is small and possibly relatively new. Try moulding that, by introducing new ways of working and create a pilot (or prototype as some innovators might say). Then play some more.

To be truly creative the Whitehall structures would need to be fluid and I’m not sure that government is ready for that just yet.

Lastly, I have one further thought. Exactly how is this to be done? Scope it, put it out to procurement and you will simply get a spec for a very large and expensive change program which will see the big consultancy boys in lunches for a long time and will be no different from what has gone before. After all, they probably ran the last change program!!

Readers will be thinking that although I promote Creativity and Innovation  I am simply rubbishing the ideas of Dominic Cummings. The civil service requires reform, it does not require complete anarchy.

I remain both hopeful and sceptical that something at least a little weird will happen.

What do Creative Thinking and Moccassins have in common?

Training in NepalI recently spent ten days in Nepal taking two Negotiation Skills workshops. As you would expect, I managed to weave in quite a bit of creative thinking!

The participants were high-level officials from various Nepalese Government Departments and Ministries. In advance, I learned that they did not care for each other that much and did not get on.

Each workshop was 3 days long. After a day I saw that these people were getting on like a house on fire. So what was the problem? They just simply did not know each other and did not understand the other group’s point of view.

Many of the negotiations taking place in Nepal concern the building of dams and Hydropower generation capacity. The process involves the government, along with foreign developers, transmission line owners, international banks and displaced local people. Quite a tangle!

On day 3 we ran a fairly complex simulation and it was at that point the penny dropped. One attendee (a government employee) simply said that they did not realise how difficult it was being the developer.

These people had simply focused on getting the best deal at any cost, and had not considered the point of view of the half a dozen or so other parties. This did not mean they could not do a good deal, but that they might just make things run smoother and take less time.

At this point, I introduced them to ‘Walking With Moccasins’, one of my favourite creative techniques. It is derived from the time when a young Indian brave would follow an elder around for a lunar month and observe not just everything he did, but how he did it. It was an exercise in learning what, how and why.

You can do this in the workplace. Don’t just observe, do things too. I have a much more elaborate version that I use outdoors but it does require safety to be taken into account!

Anyway, the point is that by ‘getting into the shoes’ of your enemies, collaborators, product or service users you can learn a great deal that might be to your advantage. As a result of reading this you may wish to learn more. If so, then please do get in touch. Visit my Contact page to find out how you can do this.

Student Tuition Fees – Who Should Pay?

Who should pay student feesA new paper published by the Intergenerational Foundation this week states that student tuition fees are economically inefficient. The press release for the paper states:

A new paper published today challenges the current funding system in higher education, calling it “economically inefficient”. In the paper, Dr Kevin Albertson, Professor of Economics at Manchester Metropolitan University, points out that the public benefits of a young person’s getting a higher education qualification more than outweigh the costs, according to the government’s published figures.

The paper uses an alternative way of thinking about the economics and is a very good example of how creative or alternative thinking can be used to solve problems and change the status quo. In a nutshell, tuition fees should be paid by the government as they reap the economic benefit. Read the full press release to find out more.

Click on the link to download the full press release and contact details of the author Student Fees - Who Should Pay?

Procrastination Is Good For Creativity

Mona Lisa teh result of procrastinationProcrastination is good for creativity, or rather, it can be.

Procrastination is usually  characterised as a negative habit but this is not necessarily so. If you are working to a tight deadline, trying to complete an assignment or aiming for a difficult goal, procrastination will almost certainly delay successful completion.

Time For Reflection

Here we need a little reflection and to be honest with ourselves (and possibly our colleagues at work). If I delay because I am lazy then I should recognise this and take some action to ensure that I correct this behaviour. But in the world of creativity and innovation we sometimes hang fire completing something. Thus, we can make several iterations. This will ensure that we deliver the best solution possible. This is one of the golden rules of creative thinking ‘cycle often, close late’.

The Benefits Must Outweigh The Risks

Procrastinating can only help you to improve an outcome when the (tangible) benefits of delay outweigh the risks of hasty progress.  In such cases, procrastination allows time for reflection and learning. It also offers an opportunity to incorporate our learning into our current work.

We must, therefore, learn to procrastinate strategically to avoid threats (or minimise risks), become more innovative, and discover original and creative solutions to our problems. Why not build in a little ‘procrastination time’ into your project plans?

A Classic Case Of Procrastination

Here is just one example of a famous procrastinator, Leonardo Da Vinci. Researchers estimate that he painted the Mona Lisa in fits and starts over a period of several years. He started in 1503, and only completed the work just before his death in 1519. Critics said he wasted his time on various experiments and other distracting activities. They said it prevented his paintings from being completed earlier. Did he in fact make use of any of these lessons in his works before he died? What would the Mona Lisa have been like if it had been completed in say 1504?

Making Use Of The Mood Hoovers

Mood Hoovers! Do you have some of those negative people in your business who just suck the life out of you? If you are self employed maybe you are surrounded by some. What do you do about them?

I spent some time talking to individuals who provide coaching and their take on it was to simply ignore these people. This could work if you work on your own and can make that choice but what about those people who work in organisations?

Negativity, like positivity is a resource that can be used so why ignore or waste it? Lets actively make use of it. But how?

There are a number of creative or alternative techniques that can be used to harness negative energy which I will not go into here, however the fundamental principle is the same. Even the most positive of us have a negative streak so let s first of all use this to create something. Maybe it is a whole heap of ideas or a story. As long as there is some sort of mapping between our negative output and something positive in the real world.

So why is this good? First of all, you will get a lot of output! Secondly when we generate ideas we find it easy to judge them. You will have noticed many comments such as ‘that won’t work’ or ‘we can’t afford that’. If what you are producing is in fact negative, the mood hoovers will find it very difficult to judge!