One of the things I've been most passionate about on my own work for many years is focusing my energy toward the emerging paradigm of work, one where financial generatively (making money) is only part of the whole and not, as in the conventional paradigm, the central bottom line...or even the only driving bottom line. The new paradigm has multiple bottom lines; multiple ways of creating and engaging; and includes new ways of being and interacting as well as doing and acting. It requires an entirely new foundations, not just new ways to "succeed" in the old foundational landscape.
There is a larger movement of integration underfoot, and more and more people are committed to helping bring this new life-giving work paradigm forward. It is already happening. We can focus on creating/unfolding a better future - leaving that which no longer serves, "yes-anding" what does - or we can carry the baggage of the past and be limited by what worked then. We get to choose where we put our intention, attention, creativity and action. In the new work paradigm, we can bring more of who we are into the structuring of our work, our collaborative partnerships, our companies and our service in the world. We don't have to silo oursevles or our company missions.
We can create work, businesses and organizations that are alive, creative, adaptive, resilient and holistically generative by establishing new foundations; integrating the isolated parts of ourselves and our lives; questioning the assumptions underneath our current beliefs and our value systems (including our current relationship with money and set of accompanying beliefs); engaging the creative unknown to go beyond what we currently hold as "the way it is"; forming life-giving collaborations based on resonance and aliveness; giving conscious space, time and attention to our creative imaginations; developing generative practices and rituals to help us "live into" our visions and embody new ways of being; listening to what calls to us from within; and expanding the conventional bottom line to include more of our creativity, humanness, connection and deeper contribution..
Related post: 27 Elements fo the New Work Paradigm - shifting our ways of working to ways that are expanding the notion of what work and business is and can be.
People can say, "I had better things to do. Same old, same old. I couldn't wait to get out of there" or they can say "Wow - that was awesome! We actually got A LOT done - and had fun doing it. I didn't even realize I had all those creative ideas." after leaving one of your meetings. They can feel anywhere from drained to motivated, mind-numbed to mind-expanded, detached to engaged. The good news is it's your choice. If you'd prefer the latter, come join us in the dynamic, fun, NEW session on creating and facilitating vibrant, generative, productive meetings - ones where people get things done, ENJOY the meeting, and leave feeling motivated.
Meetings come to life when you engage the whole brain and participants get to discover something new in real time. There is ALIVENESS in discovery. Come explore and experience divergent and convergent creativity principles and practices - including improv, storytelling, embodiment among others - that are easy to learn and apply for any meeting you facilitate. Learn how to structure meetings that bring out more creativity, discovery and motivation from the participants to better meet your business goals. Leave with practices you can apply right away; a set of guiding principles; greater understanding of how to integrate both divergence and convergence into a meeting of any length; and increased self awareness. And we'll have FUN in the process! :-)
Info and Directions: http://www.capitolcreativitynetwork.com/
It took me a few weeks to get to this post, after integrating what unfolded at and after our Creativity in Business Conference a few weeks ago. On October 23, we produced a (sold-out - yay!) conference in Washington, DC with the help of many amazing, generous souls. It was gratifying that people seemed to get a lot out of it - I think the feedback reflects a juicy and alive day. Everyone really stepped up, took risks, pushed their edges, had fun and engaged fully. Photographer, Alexander Morozov of Photography by Alexander, captured the energy of the day with these pictures.
It Started with Principles of Creative Engagement
|Improvisational Storyteller session|
I am in a Facebook group and someone posted the question asking what
capacities are needed for Global Citizenship and how might they be developed. I just wrote the following stream of consciousness as a wall post there and thought I would share it here as well since it's connected to my own purpose, work with creative process and vision of an ever-evolving, more generative world - one that is co-created by each of us from the inside-out.
Some of the capacities that come to mind are creativity and imagination; holding paradox and uncertainty; consciously engaging the unknown; yes-anding, improvisation, adaptiveness; getting into the body (many cultures are much more embodied than we are) - using our somatic intelligence as a resource; re-wakening the senses; using more right-brain ways of engaging and communicating integrated with the left-brain; weaving in more aspects of the Feminine archetypal qualities in with the Masculine; empathic communication, intuition, holistic (not binary) listening - with co-discovery in mind.
Also, cultivating the inherent exuberance, aliveness, and joy in our children and reclaiming it in ourselves; expanding our capacities by breaking old patterns and intentionallly engaging practices that invite us in to more of our hearts, bodies, and and whole brains; incorporating purpose and relevance in everything we engage, among other aspects of our potential; expanding upon our existing models, theories and approaches to allow for ongoing modification and constantly inventing new ones we creating conditions for new, liberating structures to emerge; creating conditions for those in their organization/culture/system to unfold their "what's next" from within; new ways of being in addition to thinking...
By developing these and all kinds of other capacities within ourselves, I believe we can begin to transcend the edginess of the differences and can meet more as global humans. That creates the space to hear, connect and co-create what's next as global citizens using the gifts of our unique cultural differences.
I have create a new summer program - a week-long immersion into the Creative Self:
Creativity for your Calling: Engaging Your Aliveness
Do you feel you have a calling - a purpose - but are not quite sure what it is? Do you yearn to connect with and express that juicy creative wellspring you know is in you? Do you desire to move beyond the voices of fear, resistance and judgment into the voices of aliveness, meaning and passion? And do you want to have fun doing it? Then come play with us as you become more of YOU!
Your calling is unique to you and you are the only one who can bring it out into the world. A purpose, a path, an invitation, vocation, contribution, passion and/or a business, it’s your most significant "mission" in life - the call you know is deep inside of yourself just waiting to be expressed out into the world. It can be challenging to clearly hear that inner voice in the midst of everyday distractions. The good news is that your Creative Self knows how to carry it out
In this fun, soulful and wildly creative program, you will use your whole-brain and your body to answer the call. You will immerse yourself in arts-based activities, improvisation, body-centered practices, storytelling, intuitive reflection tools and other forms of creative process to hear your calling, draw it forth, and discover ways of making it real in the world. You already have your unique “signature” set of gifts, skills, experiences, and talents. This retreat will give you the chance to indulge and cultivate them. This program contains a balance reflection and action, receptivity and generativity, heart and mind; body and soul; and lighthearted play and diving deep.
By combining your unique creativity with focused intention you can:
• access and use your rich inner guidance
• awaken deep layers of your creative potential
• understand your big picture patterns and archetypal drives
• discover delicious new possibilities and directions
• connect with your "creative source" to move toward inspired expressions
• channel anxiety and overwhelm into productive creativity
• feel more engaged and alive in your every day life
You are vaster and more creative than you can imagine. This program is designed to have you experience the full-on aliveness of your Creative Self as you unfold, shape and form your distinctive “Calling Card” - an Action and Reflection Plan to continue the journey beyond the retreat setting. You’ll also leave with approaches you can practice at home, and ways of navigating the resistances that can show up. Creativity materials provided - just bring an open mind and heart!
Check my the Workshop page on my website for the next one
The following are lessons learned and insights gleaned from the trial and error of facilitating creative process with hundreds of individuals and organizations over the past 12 years. It requires a different focus, skill set, way of being and "container creation" than facilitating analytical processes. Below are some of the many principles and practices I've learned or discovered. Take what resonates and leave the rest :-)
Dynamic Balance and Facilitating Creativity in the Workplace
1. Set intention and embody purpose. Get clear on your intention - not only from a business perspective, (i.e., leave with a Strategic Plan), but also from the human element. Creative process in human beings is organic, and contains emotional energy. In fact, the more passion and inspiration, the deeper and more coherent the creativity that emerges. If you intend to support the growth, creativity and awareness of those you serve, you facilitate from a more meaningful place than if focused only on the business goal. If you take time, both in the program design and in the room when facilitating, to think about what is the service you are providing - the gift you are offering - it frees up your own creativity more to support that in your facilitation. Focusing solely on the task limits the creative potential. By genuinely focusing on what is yours to GIVE, (not how you come across doing it), participants pick that up – either consciously or unconsciously - and are more receptive to trying new things with you. Creative Facilitation adds some new “yes-ands” to what already works.
2. Focus on awareness in addition to what happens. Focusing on the awareness aspect allows it to be transformative. In all facilitation, the debrief can be one of the most powerful parts. It integrates the learnings and serves as a bridge to what’s next. In debriefing creative process, focus on what was going on INSIDE of the participants as well as what actually was created OUTSIDE in the room. This leads to self-awareness, which increases the chances of continued creativity and co-creativity after the workshop, program, or process is over. The more aware participants become of what emerges within themselves as they create - both what was most alive as well as what was most challenging - the easier it is to continue to navigate and cultivate their creativity beyond the workshop setting.
3. Understand the normal resistance that occurs with navigating the unfamiliar. Resistance is a healthy, natural part of the creative process. It only becomes unhealthy when it is allowed to block the process (by overemphasizing it and spending too much time engaging it, or by not acknowledging it all and trying to barrel past it). Be prepared for resistance to show up. It's usually a result of fear of entering the new territory, and it can show up in a myriad of forms - deflection, sarcasm, distraction, disengagement or, most often and most subtly, talking about what is already known. It's not something to be pushed down or avoided, but rather something to be acknowledged and moved through if it shows up. Acknowledgment ahead of time gives it permission to follow it natural course when and if it emerges. It is the natural “contraction” to balance the creative expansion. You find this in all of nature’s creativity. The flower feels the resistance of the bud most just before it blossoms.
4. “Fail” gracefully - be comfortable with messing up. This is a great lesson from improv theater. Improvisers do not see mistakes as static failures. Instead, we see them as dynamic invitations to learn in real time and an opportunity to create something new. To authentically learn how to deepen your experience in facilitating a transformational creative process requires you to be the explorer as well. Unlike facilitation that relies on what is known, creativity depends elements of the unknown. You can better facilitate that which you're willing to experience for yourself. Applied creativity has vulnerability attached to it as being experimental means being vulnerable. And, that means something you try may not work, or may work differently than you had anticipated. Go with it. USE that information as feedback to either refine for the future, or, in that moment, to take the group to another place. The facilitator’s discomfort with the challenges of creativity can inhibit the group's craetive process. (If you can take an improv class, do it…it's the quickest way I know to free yourself of the “the fear of failure” and develop a comfort with thinking on your feet.)
5. Adapt in real time. There's always a dynamic balance between creating enough structure and releasing. If you as a facilitator need to control the process, do whatever you can on your free time to get comfortable with letting go, shifting gears, and modifying the agenda in real time. Use the real-time feedback loop: engage, get feedback, modify; engage, get feedback, modify, etc. It’s an ongoing process, and like with all things, takes practice to embody. Do this enough and it becomes comfortable and easy…and alive! In fact, you will get to a point where it takes more energy to try to stick to the exact plans than to follow the creative aliveness of what is trying to emerge in the room. Be ready to adjust your "agenda" at any time for what is REALLY going in the room. Otherwise, you can get engagement, and even expanded perspectives, but generally no real novelty. Novelty contains an unpredictability within it, and to facilitate creative process means adapting to that unpredictability in real time. May as well have fun with it :-)
6. Work from your own Creative Edges, not your comfort zone. This creates a palpable dynamic aliveness in the room. You are all in it together. This may seem antithetical to our "expertise" culture. The paradox is that you must still deeply know and understand what you are doing before you enter the room, but then once in the room, hold it loosely and respond in real time. Be in your own unknown - a co-discoverer instead of the expert on their creativity. Allow yourself to be surprised. Don't limit them, or yourself, by your creativity experience or pre-existing assumptions. While you are the one creating the container and holding the space, this role is balanced with your own openness to what emerges. Creative facilitation is an open system.
7. Respect creative style diversity. To further expound on #6, one size, approach, method, technique, or even paradigm does not fit all. One creativity model definitely does not fit all. Understand that each person in that room is at a different comfort level, and will have a unique relationship with the creative process. Each carries unique and different stories of creativity in his or her consciousness. You give them tools and techniques as entry points, but be ready to let their creativity show you ways of creating that you can’t imagine. This expands your own Creative Practices repertoire.
8. Understand patterns found in the creative process. This allows you to facilitate during times of resistance. Another paradox: while each person has different creating styles and approaches that work for them, there are also re-occurring universal patterns that tend to emerge in a creative process. The deepest understanding comes from your OWN experimentation and learning, and will most likely be refined over time. Start with what you know, and open up to being "yes-anded" all the time. Look for patterns, not just techniques. Techniques only get you so far…patterns and principles allow you to create new techniques on and ongoing basis. Start where you are, be gentle with yourself as you learn, and learn from direct experience. Insights that emerge from experience and observation are give you a real-time agility that book learning alone cannot offer.
9. Embrace dynamic balance. Divergence AND convergence. Left AND right brain. Structure AND flow. Reflection AND action. That is one of the re-occurring themes in this post because it permeates all of creative process...and the complexity of being human. Creativity is filled with paradox. Setting up conditions for creativity is as well. Like with all natural systems, every situation, project, and group has a dynamic balance that will allow the most amount of creativity to emerge in that situation. Too rigid keeps the creativity bound; too loose, it gets unfocused. There is a balance between structure and flow. This is why whole brain practices are needed...the right brain to access NEW levels of ideas and information, and the left to discern and organize it.
10. Allow for self-organization when facilitating a group project. Inherent in the creative process is a self-organization found in all of nature. You see this all the time in improvised jazz or improv theater...something larger than the sum of the parts emerges and it is a coherent whole and unexpected. It is similar to the experience you have in those moments when everything just seems to effortlessly come together in a brilliant, yet totally unexpected, way. This possibility always exists in any group. One key is to not over-control the experience and allow enough space for the next level of creativity to emerge in the room. This takes some trust in the creative process itself...and practices recognizing, like in an improv performance, when you need to step up and lead, or step back and follow. Without question, groups have the capacity to self-organize around a creative task - a collective creative intelligence can take over that is larger than any one person's idea. You have nature on your side. We are natural meaning-makers, and creativity is naturally self-organizing. By balancing both directing and following in real time, you can more naturally moving to higher levels of coherence, meaning, and sense. (All “Aha’s” are deeply grounded in common sense at their new level). We have simply been socialized, educated, and trained to over-plan. Instead, we can learn how to work WITH the natural creative process.
11. Seek to make it safe, not comfortable.
Safety will allow people to open up and move into
unknown territory without the fear of criticism, failure. Too much stability, and nothing new emerges. Asking people to share what they already know is different than guiding them into their unknown. On the other side, without doing the “container creating” to make it safe, taking people in too deep too soon can throw them into chaos and they will shut down – and they lose trust in you. In either case, nothing new emerges. Find the balance of the Creative Zone - the place of creative potential between stability and chaos. Create a safe space AND guide your participants into new territory, which can be uncomfortable. Discomfort is a normal part of the creative process. In fact, if everyone is the room is entirely comfortable the whole time, chances are you did more
of an information gathering process than a creative one.
12. Fun is functional. There is more research emerging all the time that shows how fun, play, and “lightening up” have a serious role to play in increasing creative thinking and establishing creative work culture - not just as an outlet to do on your free time, but as a driver to navigating change and working on serious challenges in work and life. It frees the brain to think more creativity, and frees the energy in the room for more effective and safe collaboration. In fact, I have not come across any research anywhere that points to not having fun and not being playful as a more effective way of living and creating. To facilitate creativity requires accessing and being comfortable with having fun yourself. And, knowing how to bring it in purposefully, and in a way it can be accepted (and not shut people down). It's different for every group and every culture. Once you access your own "deep fun" self, you have more choice on what methods to use and how. As with all facilitation, know your audience.
13. Your inner stories directly impact the container you create for others. Check out all the stories you carry around creativity, fun and play. Do you hold them as separate from a business bottom line? Most of us grew up with the programming that creativity is something you do on your free time after the “real work” is done. Facilitating Applied Creativity carries a new story – that it is an essential part of the real work. It is more than something fun to open up a group, but actually something to help transform individuals, groups, teams and organizations; create a thrivable work culture, and feed the bottom line. Do you carry a story that creativity is for the domain of the arts...or do you know it to be present, in infinite abundance, for every person, group and system? What stories do you carry about yourself as a Creator? In knowing yourself as a Creator, and knowing that you are walking into a room filled with other Creators (whether they are aware of it or not) allows you to help facilitate a new story for those in the room.
14. Diverge...and Converge with discernment.
Facilitating transformational creativity requires your presence, adaptability, agile thinking…AND
discernment. Discernment keeps whatever
emerges in the room focused on the objectives, relevant, and purposeful…not just random creative expression (unless that is your goal). This means having processes for Convergence as well as Divergence. Divergence explores, discovers, yes-ands, and accepts to expand the playing field – the increase the field of potential from which to draw. Convergence discerns, focuses, fleshes out, uses what is relevant and leaves the rest. For a visual with more on Divergence and Convergence click here. As with each of these points, the dynamic balance is the key: expand, contract; explore, refine; value logic and intuition; planning and spontaneity. Most people naturally gravitate to more comfort with diverging or converging…find out which is your preference and practice giving more time and attention to the other.
15. Prepare yourself with pre-workshop creativity rituals. Creativity, by its nature, contains a lot of energy and newness. Facilitating novelty is not "business as usual." It's about leading a group into the non-habitual. It requires being resilient, agile, compassionate and an "expedition guide." Taking some time to do whatever you need to enter your own non-habitual state first can makes a significant difference. One of the best ways to do that is by taking some alone time before the facilitation, to do pattern-breaking exercises to increase your own energy and become present, alert, and responsive. The more of the whole-brain - and whole-body! - you bring in, the better. Like an athlete who warms up by stretching muscles, you’re a creativity facilitator who warms up by stretching beyond your familiar patterns. Try different things, like moving in non-habitual ways around your living room before you leave your house. You'll be alone, so the more “out there” you can be in the privacy of your own space, the better. Surprise yourself at how “out there” you can get! It will also help you be more comfortable when something “out there” emerges from a participant. Do it until you transform any negative self-judgment or evaluation you have into the joy of exploration. It will increase your energy and aliveness, and help you be more attentive and at ease with what shows up in the room. Creativity is messy. Non-judgment of self and others during the process is essential!
I am so passionate about this topic that I could go on ad infinitum :-) I have covered some of the basics here. It's challenging to use words-only to describe a fullness of whole-brain experience. This is not about one right way - it's a loose guide and exploration. My hopes is that something in here gives you food for thought, inspiration or validation.
~ Michelle James ©2010
Go to http://www.creativeemergence.com/wbfacilitation.html for more on our next Creative Facilitation Workshop. Offerred once or twice a year since 2005 in the Washington, DC area.
I had the great pleasure of presenting at TEDxCreativeCoast in Savannah on Friday. The theme was "Designing Creativity." I did my presentation on what I called the Improvidigm - a paradigm of sustainable creativity informed by the generative principles and practices of improvisational theater. Some of the patterns that emerged throughout all of the presentations included convergence, hybrids/integration, trans- and meta-, the human touch, passion, using creativity for social good/serving a larger mission, working with nature/living systems, connection, presence/mindfulness, new structure creating, transforming challenges into opportunities, and the unwavering commitment to making a positive change in the world.
I am writing a book on Foundational Creativity - the creation of new, generative, fertile ground from which new levels of holistically generative creativity (creativity that is generative for the self, others and the whole) can emerge. Foundations inform the shape, texture and scope of our creative output. This is a diagram for both personal
and social/societal foundations, as our individual foundations are inextricably linked with and informed by our social foundations.
The following is an initial sketch of a partial list of elements that will be included, i.e., consciousness, among other aspects, will be included but is not in this particular diagram. It is an iterative process :-) I am heading out today to give an interactive presentation on this at the Project Renaissance Learning and Creativity Doublefest. We'll use multiple dimensions of creative process to explore past/current and emerging/future informing foundations.
Join us on Thursday, March 11 for an interactive dialogue with NYT best selling author of A Whole New Mind and Free Agent Nation, Dan Pink, on his new book, DRiVE: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, which uses behavioral science to overturn the conventional wisdom about human motivation and offers a more effective path to high performance.
This is a content-rich and audience-participatory - and fun! - event. Hear about what motivates us; learn techniques for action; and engage in dialogue with Dan about autonomy, mastery, purpose, creativity, performance and more. The afternoon's format is designed to offer maximum real-time participant engagement with Dan, one of the most prolific voices of our time on the changing world of work.
Hosted by Michelle James, CEO of The Center for Creative Emergence and founder of the Capitol Creativity Network in Washington, DC.
Date & Time: Thursday, March 11, 3:00-5:30pm
Address: CDIA - Center for Digital Imaging Arts 1055 Thomas Jefferson St., NW, Washington, DC 20007 Register online at http://dialoguewithdan.eventbrite.com
I am in an improvisational theater performing group. We improvise full-length plays with nothing planned in advance. No structure. No outline. No character or plot development. Nothing, except for 2 locations we get from the audience at the beginning of the play. The play is then titled, "The Space Station and the Bathroom" or whatever locations we get from the audience. Two of us then run on stage and start interacting, and thus the play begins.
When the play goes well, the audience says, "That HAD to be scripted. At least some part of it had to be scripted. It looked too easy." It was easy. When the performance does not go so well, the audience says, "That looked hard." It was hard.
I became fascinated by what makes it work. What creates peak level creativity in our group? What allows a complex, coherent, sense-making structure to emerge from nothing but a simple location? What is the "magic formula" that allows a fully formed, organized play - with believable characters and plot - to emerge before the audience’s (and our own) eyes? And what gets in the way? Why does it work seamlessly sometimes and not so well other times? I became a serious student of improv theory - reading the seminal books in the field and observing the patterns in my group and other groups.
I soon recognized the connections between adhering to the principles of improvisational theater in a performance and being able to adapt, create and improvise effectively in the work place – and in any social system. The same principles that allow a performing group to improvise a 90-minute play out of nothing but a location are the same principles that allow groups, teams, and organizations to solve problems in new ways and reach peak levels of creativity and innovative thinking. The principles form the “container” that allows the group to self-organize to emerge what’s next.
Around that same time, I began exploring complexity sciences theory in creativity and could not help but recognize the stark similarities between improvisation and complex adaptive systems such as emergence, self-organization, interdependence, pattern making, increasing complexity, dense local connectivity, coherence emerging out of disorder. Both are open, inclusive, non-linear, dynamic systems that use interactive agents, feedback loops and multiple variables. Both require resilience, collaboration, structure and flow, spontaneity, and engaging the unknown. Both result in a surprising emergence.
In our troupe, we don’t go on stage with a pre-formed notion of our characters, plot, conflict, challenge or situation. We just let them emerge based on our interactions, actions and reactions. The "magic formula" is the adherence to the basic improv principles. When we adhere to the principles of improvisation, something emerges that is more intelligent and creative - and intelligently organized - than any one of us could have planned. As with any good emergence, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. By adhering to the principles, a play unfolds that is so original and unpredictable, that you have a sense of being entirely in flow - getting to fully experience the adventure as you create it.
The principles that allow this to happen are simple, yet profound. They seem easy, but in practice, they are almost the exactly opposite of the ways in which we navigate our everyday work lives. They take re-learning. I say that because we were born natural improvisers and then got "educated" and "civilized" out of the playful aspects of our own improvisational complexity.
The following are 7 basic improv principles – all of which I believe tie in to complexity theory. There are others, but I have found these to be essential.
1. Yes and. Fully accepting the reality that is presenting, and the adding a NEW piece of information - that is what allows it to be adaptive, move forward and stay generative. Each performer (agent) interacts with what is offered and offers a unique contribution.
2. Make everyone else look good. That means you do not have to be defending or justifying yourself or your position - others who will do that for you and you do that for others. Without the burden of defensiveness or competition, everyone is free to create. Complex characters can form that enable unpredictable complex actions and directions to emerge.
3. Be changed by what is said and what happens. At each moment, new information in an invitation for you to have a new reaction, or for your character to experience a new aspect of them. Change inspires new ideas, and that naturally unfolds what's next. You adapt as one structure dissipates and re-organizes into a new structure that expands, yet includes, what was before.
4. Co-create a shared "agenda." This principle involves the recognition that even the best-laid plans are abandoned in the moment, and to serve the reality of what is right there in front of you. You are co-creating the agenda in real-time. In order to keep the play going, you respond to the moment and an "agenda" co-emerges that is more inclusive than anything that could have been planned. It is not consensus, which reduces. It is co-creation, which expands.
5. Mistakes are invitations. In improv, mistakes are embraced – they are the stimulating anomalies that invite the performers into a new level of creativity. By using improv techniques such as justifying any mistake can be transformed into surprising plot point or dialogue that never would have happened in following a conventional pattern. In improv, justifying creates order out of chaos. Mistakes break patterns and allow new ones to emerge.
6. Keep the energy going. No matter what is given, or what happens, you accept it and keep the energy gong. Unlike in everyday life, where people stop to analyze, criticize or negate, in improv you keep moving. A mistake happens - let it go move on. The unexpected emerges - use it to move on. Someone forgot something important - justify it and move on. You’re lost or confused –make something up and trust the process. Just keep moving. The system is not static – it is alive and dynamic.
7. Serve the good of the whole. Always carry the question, "How can I best serve this situation?" and then you have a better sense of when to run in and when to stay back, when to take focus and when to give it, how to best support your fellow performers and how to best support the scene. By focusing away from how you will look into serving the larger good – the aliveness of the system - you have more creative impulses and resources available to you at any moment. And the choices you make are more in alignment with the higher levels of creative integration that form a coherent play.
So, what make it "look hard" when it is not working so well? Simple: any violation of the principles. If one of us tries to orchestrate, or worse impose, our own agenda or plot on the piece. If one of us tries to be the "star" and take too much focus. If even one of us is not present to what is unfolding, moment-by-moment. If one of us worries about the plot, and starts to figure out how to "save" it. If we expect that someone should respond in a certain way. In short, anything that gets us out of the moment and what is emerging - and into our controlling heads.
The rules are simple – the application can be challenging, requiring conscious effort. One of the paradoxes of improv is that you practice being spontaneous until it comes naturally. By staying present to each moment, getting out of thinking and planning and into being, you have a wellspring options and choices in each moment that you otherwise would miss. With positive intention, active engagement, presence and yes-anding, you can't do anything but be co-generative!
The truth is, in each performance we have some magic moments and some more effortful ones - some that work and others that fall flat. But by adhering to the improv principles we significantly increase the magic and decrease the efforting. A creative - and surprisingly logical - play can then emerge through that fresh and alive energy. We, and the audience, then get to experience the real-time excitement of riding the flow of a creative emergence.
I first put my Improvisation and Complexity Matrix into action at the Plexus Institute DC Fractal a few years ago. Participants were led through a series of improv activities that we then tied in to complexity science principles and discussed how they played out in organizations and other complex adaptive systems. Everyone agreed that, although framed differently, the small number of laws that can generate complex systems are embedded in the small number of laws that can generate full-length improvised plays.
Improv takes you to the edge of chaos – the inflection point – filled with fertile creative potential. We are natural meaning makers, and left to our own devices, our brains naturally seek to evolve order, coherence and meaning. Once you allow yourself the freedom to explore and play; set the initial conditions; and then get out of the way, creativity can develop and unify all kinds of things that otherwise would seem impossible.
The principles of improvisation serve a much larger purpose than performance - they have the ability to create the life-giving container for cognitive, personal, organizational, social, political, and spiritual transformation. I see them as rules of engagement for a more peaceful, co-generative, co-creative, sustainable world. ~ By Michelle James
Michelle James, CEO of The Center for Creative Emergence, founded Quantum Leap Business Theater 10 years ago where she has lead improv-based programs for organizations such as Microsoft, The World Bank and Kaiser Permanente among others. She also offers public workshops such as Improv for Leaders, Creative Facilitation using Improv and Improvisational Thinking to name a few.
Pictures are from one of our performances - Precipice Improv
Creativity is no longer on the sidelines of the workplace or for the select few - it's front and center, increasingly acknowledged as the key business factor for economic growth in the new economy. It is not just for the creatives - each of us has to "step up our creative game" to thrive in the emerging paradigm of work.
With challenging social, economic and environmental conditions, we are also being called to look beyond business as usual into what really matters and how can we serve - and still make a profitable living. It's time to focus on integrating for-profit business, purpose, creativity and serving a greater good. Passion alone is not enough to break old thinking and working patterns that fracture and segment, and move into creating new "whole-systems" patterns. NEW and different ways of thinking and being - consciously applied - are needed to create a sustainable, alive and thriving future. Creativity is the driving force to navigate this shift.
Just google "Creativity in Business" and you will see an ever-expanding lists of courses, books, articles, and programs on the topic. It has hit the mainstream which is gratifying for those of us who have been passionate about this integration! Many MBA programs now include creativity and/or social responsibility as part of the curriculum. The new paradigm is about converging worlds: commerce and service, left and right brain, thinking and being, creativity and practicality, mind and heart...and what is simultaneously good for self, others and the whole.
I am very excited to explore - and experience - these concepts further at our Creativity in Business Conference in DC October 4th!
Join applied-creativity thought leaders, pioneering entrepreneurs and business innovators from around the country - in the fields of creativity and innovation, organizational change, social media and transformational leadership - for a full-day event focused on:
* Harnessing and focusing individual, group & organizational creativity
* Organizational structures/business models conducive for creativity & innovation
* The integration of creativity, purpose, business & serving the greater good
New ideas, new innovations, new systems and new structures depend on accessing new levels of creativity. At this event, we will explore different facets of creativity as the key driver in navigating and thriving in the new work paradigm.
Conference: 9:00-5:30 Festival: 5:30-7:30
CONFERENCE: - Lively, Content-rich, Experiential Break-out Sessions each with a different focus related to the theme of Applied Creativity in Business - Engaging Thought Leader Panels explore the creativity-centered work paradigm through the lens' of leadership, social media and creative thinking
FESTIVAL: Comedy, Live Music, Networking, Book Signings, Give-Aways and hors d'oeuvres from award-winning Mie N Yu restaurant
ALSO INCLUDED: Arts and Business Services Silent Auction - all proceeds from the auction go to ProjectCreateDC. For more info on how to donate a work of art or a business service, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
REGISTRATION: Earlybird discount through August 21: $149 ~ Regular rate after August 21: $197 ~ Sponsorship: $500. Seating is limited - early registration is recommended. http://www.creativity-conference.com
SPONSORS: - The Center for Creative Emergence (Conference Producer) - Capitol Creativity Network - Center for Digital Imaging Arts - Teratech - Timothy Flatt Studios - Mie N Yu - Over The Horizon Consulting, LLC - Associated Producers - Brandwithin - Integral Company - Thoughtlead -Photograhy by Alexander
ALL THE DETAILS: http://www.creativity-conference.com
Hope you can join us! :-)
Our Capitol Creativity Network is one of the sponsors for this exciting creative event this evening:
The Art of Change is an inaugural event created by and for the nation's art communities. We intend to create a unique celebration to mark the beginning of President-elect Barack Obama's administration and the positive changes we believe it will bring to our nation.
To create this event, volunteers have come together from all over Washington, DC's creative communities to collaborate in an event that will meld together art, music, and performance to show the District of Columbia the most original and creative inaugural event ever held.
The Art of Change planning committee is an all-volunteer group of movers and shakers from the Washington, DC creative community. All planning committee members are affiliated with one or more of our sponsor or partner organizations and have put in countless hours of personal time creating this event.
> Artists devoted to exploring the world of human aesthetic to bring
us closer to a greater understanding of the world around us, our fellow
human beings, and the deepest recesses of the psyche
> Performers adept at coaxing the highest elation and depths of despair from our audiences with the power of word, body, sound, and movement
> Event planners tried and tested in our talents for bringing together group energies and art to move beyond the intentions of individuals to a powerful new collective potential
> A collaborative powerhouse of creative energy devoted to expressing our hopes for the future of America and the entire world in the wake of the most important presidential election in any of our lifetimes through our own unique celebration
Go to artists-ball.org for details.
I am totally surprised - and completely honored! - to be named one of the Visionary Leaders in the Fast Company Blog, Leading Change Truly honored to be in such inspiring company:
Innovative organizations live by new rules. The Obama campaign played by the new rules. Harvard Business Publishing's Edge Economy, featured an article by Umair Haque, Director of Havas Media Lab entitled Obama's Seven Lessons for Radical Innovators. Here are some excerpts:
Barack Obama is one of the most radical management innovators in the world today. Obama's team built something truly world-changing: a new kind of political organization for the 21st century...Obama's presidential bid succeeded...through the power of new DNA: new rules for new kinds of institutions...
Seven rules for tomorrow's radical innovators:
1. Have a self-organization design. Obama's organization...was able to combine the virtues of both tall and flat organizations. How? By tapping the game-changing power of self-organization. Obama's organization was less tall or flat than spherical—a tightly controlled core, surrounded by self-organizing cells of volunteers, donors, contributors, and other participants at the fuzzy edges....McCain's organization was left trapped by a stifling command-and-control paradigm.
2. Seek elasticity of resilience. Obama's 21st century organization was built for a 21st century goal—not to maximize outputs, or minimize inputs, but to, as Gary Hamel has discussed, remain resilient to turbulence. When McCain attacked Obama with negative ads...Obama's organization responded with record-breaking fundraising. That's resilience: reflexively bouncing back to an existential threat by growing, augmenting, or strengthening resources.
3. Minimize strategy. Obama's campaign dispensed almost entirely with strategy in its most naïve sense: strategy as gamesmanship or positioning. They didn't waste resources trying to dominate the news cycle, game the system, strong-arm the party, or out-triangulate competitors' positions. Rather, Obama's campaign took a scalpel to strategy—because they realized that strategy, too often, kills a deeply-lived sense of purpose, destroys credibility, and corrupts meaning.
4. Maximize purpose...Obama's goal wasn't simply to win an election...It was larger and more urgent: to change the world...yesterday, we built huge corporations to do tiny, incremental things—tomorrow, we must build small organizations that can do tremendously massive things. And to do that, you must strive to change the world radically for the better—and always believe that yes, you can. You must maximize, stretch, and utterly explode your sense of purpose.
5. Broaden unity. What do marketers traditionally do? Segment and target, slice and dice...Yet Obama succeeded not through division, but through unification...Obama intuitively understands a larger truth of next-generation economics. Unified markets are what a world driven to collapse by hyperconsumption is desperately going to need.
6. Thicken power. The power many corporations wield is thin power: the power to instill fear and inculcate greed. True power is what Obama has learned wield: the power to inspire, lead, and engender belief. You can beat people into subjugation—but you can never command their loyalty,
creativity, or passion. Thick power is true power: it's radically more durable, less costly, and more intense.
7. Remember that there is nothing more asymmetrical than an ideal. Obama ended his last speech before the election by saying: "let's go change the world." Why are those words important? Because the world needs changing...In the 21st century, there is nothing more asymmetrical—more disruptive, more revolutionary, or more innovative—than the world-changing power of an ideal...
The seventh lesson is the starting point for tomorrow's radical innovators—because it's the thread that knits the others together. And it's where you should start if you want to use these seven rules to start building 21st century institutions—whether businesses, non-profits, social enterprises, or political campaigns.
For the full article go to http://discussionleader.hbsp.com/haque/
I've recently become a big fan of Umair's. He write on juicy topics such as strategic imagination, radical management innovation, the new DNA, corporate revolutionaries and overinnovation.
According to About.com's article, Following Your Artistic Passion to Find Business Success, the top 10 Creative Freelance Careers are:
1. Scrapbook Design Consultant
Companies, like Creative Memories and Stampn' Up, offer home-based consultant programs....receive a starter kit and then resell the supplies, and other related products, through home party demonstrations.. provide scrapbooking services to others...use your talent to create gift cards and other custom products to sell direct.
2. Speciality Freelance Writer
...time to think beyond the standard freelancing notion of writing copy for brochures, white papers and magazine articles - and get creative...copy for online greeting cards...custom party invitations, thank you notes or love letters....professional complaint letters to send to offending corporations.
3. Color Consultant
Color consultants are companions to the interior design business...boosting the need for color consultants in both homes and businesses is the Feng Shui movement and the recognition of the effects of color on mood.
4. Waterscapes Design Consultant
...focusing on outdoor living spaces and custom-designed gardens....help home owners and businesses utilize water elements in their outdoor spaces.
5. Real Estate Marketing Consultant
As a home staging professional you are paid to declutter, rearrange and organize a home so that it looks its best for showing to prospective buyers...create an attention-getting Open House...
6. Social Media Consultant
A growing trend is the use of social networking sites, such as FaceBook, MySpace and Second Life to market a traditional business...advise companies on issues such as, the most appropriate, and cost-effective means of advertising on these and other social networking sites; creating viral videos; and even on implementing and maintaining a corporate blog.
7. Event Coordinator
Stop thinking in terms of wedding planning and boring, corporate functions...coordinating lavish Sweet 16 parties for teens, or the Spanish equivelant of the Quinceanera party...create intimate, romantic dinner parties for two and to organize unique and over-the-top memorial and funeral services for the ultimate going-away party.
8. Jewelry Designer and Buying Consultant
Using precious gems or intricate beadwork to design jewelry is a wonderful way to evoke your creative muse...consider designing custom necklaces, or jeweled collars, for pampered dogs and cats....design custom pieces to add to cell phones, digital cameras and MP3 players.
9. Graphic Artist
...specialize in online graphics. For example, you could use your artful imagination to design Avatars, or graphical representations of people for use online. Similarly, you could put web-based artwork to use in video games, Flash ads, and online videos.
10. Play Consultant
Companies once paid big money for employees to attend team-building programs, and now that same concept has been reinvented as a play therapist...consult companies on how to use play and creative thinking in brainstorming events to engage employees and solicit better ideas...advise on how to use fun as a way to de-stress overworked, burned-out employees...or provide weekly exercise programs or creative play sessions for their students.
For the full article, go to
I am excited to be involved with the upcoming Peace Through Commerce
"Representatives from academia, civil society, and public policy think tanks will convene with business and political leaders at George Washington University for this event, designed to illuminate and celebrate the powerful role ethical commerce plays in promoting peace, and to expand an emerging multi-sector alliance to advance the theory and practice of Peace Through Commerce. Increased economic freedom enhances the climate for business, leading to opportunities for local entrepreneurs, higher rates of job creation, and greater prosperity....Research has proven peace is good for business, thus promoting a virtuous cycle of investment and enterprise advancing peace, and peace advancing investment and enterprise."
Come connect with innovative thought leaders in various fields; learn more about the framework and pioneering practices and that are changing the business landscape to one that serves people, profit and planet; and stimulate creative ideas for your own work or business; and explore collaboration. Leave inspired and part of something larger than yourself - generative and gaining momentum!
For more information go to http://www.peacethroughcommerce.com
To register go to http://peacethroughcommerce.eventbrite.com
Hope to see you there!
On the surface of the
world right now there is war and violence
and things seem dark
But calmly and quietly, at the same time,
something else is happening underground
An inner revolution is taking place
and certain individuals are being called to a higher light
It is a silent revolution From the inside out
From the ground up
Most of us work anonymously
We are quietly working behind the scenes
in every country and culture of the world
Cities big and small, mountains and valleys,
in farms and villages, tribes and remote islands
Occasionally we spot each other in the street
We give a quiet nod and continue on our way so no one will notice
During the day many of us pretend we have normal jobs
But behind the false storefront at night is where the real work takes a place
Some call us the 'Conscious Army'
We are slowly creating a new world with the power of our minds and hearts
We follow, with passion and joy
Our orders from the Central Command
The Spiritual Intelligence Agency
We are dropping soft, secret love bombs when no one is looking
Meditation and prayer
Random acts of kindness
We each express ourselves in our own unique ways with our own unique gifts and talents
'Be the change you want to see in the world'
That is the motto that fills our hearts
We know it is the only way real transformation takes place
We know that quietly and humbly we have the power of all the oceans combined
Our work is slow and meticulous
Like the formation of mountains
It is not even visible at first glance
And yet with it entire tectonic plates shall be moved in the centuries to come
Love is the new religion of the 21st century
You don't have to be a highly educated person
Or have any exceptional knowledge to understand it
It comes from the intelligence of the heart
Embedded in the timeless evolutionary pulse of all human beings
Be the change you want to see in the world
Nobody else can do it for you
We are now recruiting
Perhaps you will join us
Or already have....
All are welcome...
The door is open
~ Brian Piergrossi, from his book, The Big Glow
Based on research that shows what the mystical traditions have always espoused - "the only thing that increases individual happiness over time is helping other people" - Google has designed a lucrative project that marries creativity, service and financial support. Project 10tothe100 is a project is call for innovative ideas that will change the world by helping as many people as possible. You think of the idea, and Google will fund launching it. It is based on numbers - how many people your idea can serve. I love it...viral stewardship...
* Community: How can we help connect people, build communities and protect unique cultures?
* Opportunity: How can we help people better provide for themselves and their families?
* Energy: How can we help move the world toward safe, clean, inexpensive energy?
* Environment: How can we help promote a cleaner and more sustainable global ecosystem?
* Health: How can we help individuals lead longer, healthier lives?
* Education: How can we help more people get more access to better education?
* Shelter: How can we help ensure that everyone has a safe place to live?
* Everything else: Sometimes the best ideas don't fit into any category at all.
* Reach: How many people would this idea affect?
* Depth: How deeply are people impacted? How urgent is the need?
* Attainability: Can this idea be implemented within a year or two?
* Efficiency: How simple and cost-effective is your idea?
* Longevity: How long will the idea's impact last?
What a whole-istically generative way to focus creativity! You can read all about it - and see the video - at http://www.project10tothe100.com.
for Creative Emergence and Thoughtlead are co-sponsoring a 2-day workshop on a new
paradigm approach to organizational development, creativity and change - Holacracy. The approach integrates both the
inner dimensions of self and the outer dimensions of behavioral and systems
change. It's coming to DC on October 4th and 5th, 9-5 both days. The workshop will be led by the founder of Holacracy,
What is Holacracy?
Holacracy is a complete system for organizational governance and management that honors conventional business fundamentals while integrating cutting-edge transformative practices. With its unique structure and processes, Holacracy integrates the collective wisdom of people throughout the organization, while highlighting the needs of the organization distinct from those of the individuals within. The result is greater agility, innovation, transparency, and health; liberating the organization to live up to its full potential.
About the Workshop
This workshop dives into the core principles, structure, and practices of Holacracy through interactive lecture and immersive simulations. Attendees will witness Holacracy in action and actively participate in Holacracy's key meetings and decision-making processes, and leave with a first-hand experience of Holacracy's leading-edge organizational design and practice.
To register click here.
For more on Holacracy, click here.
For more on founder, Brian Robertson, click here.
The emerging landscape of social media brings with it exponential creative potential. Fred Cacazza has a wonderful blog, Social Media Landscape, that spells out what exactly is emerging in the field of social media. He created an easy-to-read graphic - the most comprehensive I have seen - that is understandable by people of all levels of tech savvy, or lack thereof. (A great marketing idea as well - he had so many hits on his blog that they literally had to shut it down for a while). A picture really is worth a thousand words (that's why I believe everyone should have only unlined notepads for all of their business notetaking and brainstorming - frees the mind to think "outside the lines"). Below the graphic is his list of what compiles the Social Media Landscape (there is more on his site). Visit his blog at http://socialmedialandscape.com/cms - a fantastic resource!
The Social Media Landscape consists of Publication tools, Sharing tools, Discussions tools, Micropublication tools, Social aggregation tools, Platforms for livecast hosting, Virtual worlds, Social gaming platforms and more. The above list is from Fred Cavazza's blog. He actually gives examples of all of these and so much more great information.
Social Innovation on the web: Game for Change is a social learning network and community of practice that supports individuals, groups and organizations focused on social change initiatives. It's another example of the intersection of creativity, purpose, passion, and planet. They make video games that have a positive social impact in the world. Check it out at http://www.gamesforchange.org
Henri Fayol (1841-1925) was a French management theorist whose theories in management and organization of labor were widely influential in the beginning of 20th century. He was known for his 14 Principles of Management and 5 Elements of Action, which are still valued today as "what organizations should strive to be." His definition of management roles and actions includes the following Five Elements:
1. Prevoyance. (Forecast& Plan). Examining the future and drawing up a plan of action; strategize.
2. To organize. Build up the structure, both material and human, of the undertaking.
3. To command. Maintain the activity among the personnel.
4. To coordinate. Binding together, unifying and harmonizing all activity and effort.
5. To control. Seeing that everything occurs in conformity with established rule and expressed command.
They represent an paradigm that is still prevalent - yet not effective - in most organizations today. There is little room for creativity, individuality, meaning and purpose amidst these goals. In that mechanistic model, the internal state - and creative contribution - of the people in the system can't fully flourish.
The new, integrative, creative paradigm of management acknowledges and includes these elements AND recognizes them as incredibly incomplete - a useful as part of the whole, but not the driver. The new paradigm is the both/and - it adds balanced counterparts to each one. Here's how I see it:
1. Prevoyance is balanced with thinking on one's feet and adapting strategies to real-time feedback, insights and information as it emerges.
2. To organize is balanced with giving time and space for incubation and inherent self-organization to emerge.
3. To command is balanced with to facilitate and draw forth from employees.
4. To coordinate is balanced with to collaborate and co-create.
5. To control is balanced with letting go, being present, and being informed by what is happening in the moment.
Together, these seemingly contradictory parts establish an environment for positive change and creativity to emerge.
The International Forum for Creativity Organizations - "a global networking hub providing opportunities for continual learning about creativity practice worldwide" - puts out the most comprehensive list I've seen of worldwide creativity conferences. The following is their list for this year. For more details on - and links to - each of these events, go to www.ifoco.org.
* CREATE '08, Jan. 3-8
* Invention on Demand Weekend, Feb. 1-3
* American Creativity Association, Feb. 25-29
* TED2008, Feb. 27-Mar. 1
* TED@Aspen, Feb. 27-Mar. 1
* Alden B. Dow Creativity Conference, Mar. 6-8
* Florida Creativity Weekend V, Mar. 7-9
* Perspectives on Creativity, Mar. 29
* CREA Conference, Apr. 16-20
* Creativity and Innovation Day, Apr. 21
* Conferencia Iberoamericana de Creatividad e Innovación, Apr. 21-23
* Atlanta Creativity Exchange, May 15-18
* Front End of Innovation, May 19-21
* Project Renaissance "Double Festival" Conference, May 23-28
* Creativity and Innovation Management Community Meeting, May 28-30
* ISPIM Conference: Open Innovation, Jun. 15-18
* Humor Project's International Humor Program, Jun. 20-22
* Creative Problem Solving Institute (CPSI), Jun. 22-27
* International Creativity Conference: UK Creativity Jamboree, Jul. 3-4
* Design Research Society; Undisciplined!, Jul. 16-19
* Art of Management & Organization, Spt. 9-12
* Mindcamp Toronto, Spt. 11-14
* Idea Festival, Spt. 25-27
* ACRE Conference, Oct. 7-10
* International Congress of Creativity and Innovation, Oct. 17-19
* International Conference on Creativity Education, Oct. 20-24
* Sustainable Innovation 08, Oct. 27-28
If you are in the DC area, you can join us at the Capitol Creativity Network, for any of our creativity programs the second Wednesday of each month.
Evolutionary Marketing - developed by Sam Rosen, CEO of the Verticality Group - is an emerging marketing system that includes the best practices that came before and
it takes it a step further. It enables you to expand your perspective
on who you are and why you're here - and how your marketing can serve
multiple bottom lines: profit, people, planet, process, and purpose. It:
~ Integrates what's working with what's possible
~ Creates better, more meaningful relationships with customers and prospects
~ Increases Lifetime Relational Value with partners, stakeholders and customers
~ Allows you to see your marketing in a larger strategic and philosophical context
~ Helps you write copy that builds immediate, positive emotional rapport with readers
You can see Sam in action - and work on your marketing issues in real time - at the next Capitol Creativity Network event in Washignton, DC on November 14. Go to www.capitolcreativitynetwork.com for details.
I love anything on the web that allows you to create in real time. Try your hand at your own Picasso at Mr. Picasso Head: www.mrpicassohead.com. You have an array of body parts from which to choose to create a distinctively unique being.
HealthDay news reported the new evidence that doctors who take theater classes have better bed-side manners. The finding were based on doctors who took 6 hours of theater classes and lectures given by university professors - theater-based training to help physicians improve their communication skills with their patients. The results: "The researchers found that, in almost all respects, residents exposed to theater training were appreciably better at communicating with their patients than they had been before the training."