Heart of the Art

To the Heart of Living Systems



Walking improves creativity

For centuries, great thinkers have instinctively stepped out the door and begun walking, or at the very least pacing, when they needed to boost creativity.

The benefits of big picture innovation

Systems thinking can provide some of its greatest benefits by giving companies a way to make sure that the befits of their innovation efforts are not compromised by the lack a big picture understanding. Without requiring any additional resources, innovation efforts targeted with the big picture in mind can produce greater, lasting benefits for the organisation, and a company that gets more benefit from it’s innovation efforts will have a competitive edge over it’s rivals.

Creativity & Emergence

The most effective and meaningful changes I’ve observed have come from both embracing creative practices and also establishing new foundations: generative principles of engagement, expanded mind sets, new frameworks, and entering into a “co-creative partnering” type of relationship with each other, and with the unknown. For example, weaving improv-based principles as the rules of engagement in meetings can transform both the energy and outcomes

Rethinking Scarcity: The Emergence of Creative Communities

I expect no one would disagree that creative innovation often arises from scarcity. From Ritz cracker apple pie to the dinners we developed with nothing but a microwave and hot pot during college, some creative spark in human nature thrives when put to the challenge of limited resources.

Real Learning is a Creative Process

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit, wisdom in not putting it in a fruit salad.’ We seem to be seeking short cuts, ‘get rich quick’ solutions. We want stuff to happen now, to happen fast. In so doing we lose the essence of wisdom, of skill at a high level. This takes time to acquire, to practise, to refine. It takes time to understand when things work and what makes them fail in other situations. It takes time to suspend judgement, to not view things in terms of absolutes, good or bad, right or wrong. Sometimes we forget what it is to learn. Every so often it is good to be reminded.

Your mileage may vary

But there can’t be multiple best practices? Can there? Yes there can, all depending on the setting and context in which you are trying to apply it. What is best in one place isn’t necessarily best in all. Yes, we must be consistent, but only within the setting, not necessarily between settings, and not locked in stone over time. In practice, this is affected by the degree of complexity for the process we are trying to re-engineer.

New ways to think about solving intractable problems

Intractable conflicts are extremely complex in nature, so complex that it is difficult to sustain a mental map of factors that influence the conflict. The complexity of the conflict is too much to handle cognitively. Once the conflict is simplified, opposing forces can dig in, increasing intractability. Then you’re stuck! This article looks at treating these problems a different way.

Christopher Alexander: The Timeless Way of Building

Alexander finds a ‘pattern language’ in buildings from across locations and cultures. Wha is the pattern language for other forms of human endeavour? What is its relationship to emergence?

Vive la revolution!

I was fortunate to be trained in leadership for a year at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. Towards the end, I was allowed to run the ‘enemy’ in key exercises. I rather enjoyed it; I found I had a natural capacity for subverting the system, running rings round stronger forces, stressing their infrastructure. I have often wondered whether I wouldn’t have done rather better on the ‘dark side’.

Your innovation team shouldn’t run like a well oiled machine

The principle of emergence in living systems says that global patterns of behaviour arise from simple underlying rules. You can watch this on your desktop if you do a quick google search for Craig Reynold’s ‘Boids’. Here you can download a simple program that accurately mimics the behaviour of flocking birds. It looks very real. In this HBR piece, the authors take the analogy of the ant colony to study how innovation occurs in large organisations. Their suggest is that by organising more like an ant colony and less like a machine you can set the pre-conditions for innovation to occur.

Disruptive Innovation

Introduced by John Atkinson. Disruptive innovation has halved the average tenure of a Fortune 500 CEO. It is a buzz phrase; everyone now says they want it. But do they? What is it? What does it mean? Is it that… Continue Reading →

The Dark Side of Creativity

We often think of creativity as a wonderful thing; bright uplifting tunes, inspiring paintings, life-changing products. But creativity has its dark side too. This accords with a systems view that withholds judgement. Things may be neither good nor bad, they simply are. When viewed in a wider frame actions take on different meanings. This article looks at the darker side of creativity as being an important element in the mix that we cannot do without.

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