My eighth interview in the Creativity in Business Thought Leader Series is with Jeff Klein, CEO of Cause Alliance Marketing, producers of collaborative, cause-related marketing programs. He also serves as Executive Director for Conscious Capitalism, Inc. (a.k.a. FLOW) through which he facilitates Conscious Business™, Peace Through Commerce®, and Accelerating Women Entrepreneurs™ Alliances, working with Thunderbird School For Global Management, U.S. Special Operations Command, and the Business Roundtable Ethics Institute.
Jeff wrote his new book, Working for Good: Making a Difference While Making a Living for innovative entrepreneurs and organizational change agents wanting to thrive by doing good.
Q: How does your work relate to creativity?
Jeff: Collaboration, which is at the core of alliances, fosters creativity. Bringing together diverse individuals and organizations with shared vision and compatible interests to create new (often ad hoc) organizations and to formulate and implement programs that serve their individual interests while advancing their shared mission is an exercise in creativity for all involved, and facilitating these alliances demands creativity and many of the elements that foster it – including flexibility, openness, adaptability.
Q: What do you see as the new paradigm of work?
Jeff: The new paradigm of work sees work as part of an integrated life, and as a path and platform for expression and cultivation of creativity and potential. A general and increasing concern for businesses, documented in research by Interaction Associates and others, is that of employee engagement – catalyzing the energy, attention, passion, and creativity of employees. On the other side, employees (particularly among the Millennials) are demanding work that reflects their values and engages their passion and sense of purpose. For the swelling ranks of “free agents” – consultants and entrepreneurs, “holistic” work is simply a given.
Q: What do you see the role of creativity in that paradigm?
Jeff: Creativity is an essential element of the new paradigm of work, part of the process and product. Working and living in ways that are connected to passion and purpose, that engage our full beings catalyze creativity. And, being a free agent requires constant creativity to meet the marketplace and create demand. Entrepreneurship is by definition a creative process. The new work paradigm is an emerging new reality that has emergence as one of its essential attributes. We recognize that change and interdependence are fundamental aspects of life and of business and life, and we cultivate the skills to thrive in this context. Creativity of one of the essential skills for thriving in a context of emergence.
Q: What attitudes and behaviors to see as essential for effectively navigating the new work paradigm?
Jeff: In addition to creativity, other related attitudes, behaviors, and skill for navigating the new work paradigm include awareness – the ability to reflect and inquire; openness and humility – to recognize the limits of our knowledge and be open to the insights and perspectives of others; flexibility and adaptability – to observe and respond to changing circumstances, move quickly and change course; collaborativeness – to truly work and co-create with others.
Q: What is one key technique or approach that people could start applying today to bring more creativity into their work or their busienss organization?
Jeff: Awareness practice is the foundational skill for cultivating creativity. Mindfulness meditation is one specific approach to awareness practice or cultivating awareness. By cultivating open, judgment-free observation of our moment-to-moment experience - of what we are experiencing through our senses and how we interpret that experience through thoughts and emotions – we cultivate spaciousness, open-mindedness, freedom to explore and experiment, an inquiring mind.
A simple way of beginning to practice this is to sit comfortably, and to observe the sensations in your body, as you notice something, name it (in your mind). For example, if you observe tightness in your shoulders, say in your mind “tightness, tightness tightness…” In a relaxed way…what you will notice is that the tightness or your focus on it will eventually shift to something else, then observe that. You can do the same thing for thoughts and you can move between sensations, thoughts and feelings.
Q: What is creative leadership to you?
Jeff : Creative leaders embody the spirit of creativity and cultivate it in others. Creative leaders practice and model creativity and skills that foster it. True leaders are creative by definition, since they are called to support innovation and risk taking, to forge new ground for their team or organization. So, in some respects, creative is redundant with respect to leadership, at least to good, effective leadership!
You can reach Jeff Klein at the Cause Alliance Marketing website and check out his new book at the Working for Good website. Jeff was a panelist at our recent Creativity in Business conference in DC October 4, 2009.