The Problem With Groups

Great post over at Creativity & Innovation, where Keith Sawyer explores the “tension between individual creative vision, and the collective genius of the group.”

In this Web 2.0 age, where collective knowledge is valued, leaders must keep in mind that “collective stupidity” also abounds. Often, leaders need to move ahead, even when support is lagging behind, knowing that eventually the group will catch on. And just as often, they need to listen.


The Scientific Basis of Creative Reaction

Lately I’ve been running into the research of psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, and the more I look into it, the more fascinated I am. Much of it validates the values expressed here at Creative Reaction.

So, what better way to introduce him, than by letting him speak for himself? Click here to see his 2004 TED Talk.

As you’ll see, Csikszentmihalyi’s big thing is “flow”, which I find to be more descriptive than “being in the zone” (uh, where’s that, exactly?) or having a “creative streak” which could be either something in your hair or your state of dress/undress. Of course, we all realize that what’s being articulated is more commonly known as “Creative Reaction”. We expect that academia will eventually catch on. 

Nomenclature aside (wink), an intriguing video!


Walt Disney Had Three Heads!

Lateral Action has an article detailing Walt Disney’s three “personalities”, which allowed him to be successful in both art and commerce:

  • The Dreamer - the visionary who dreamt up ideas for films and business ventures.
  • The Realist - the pragmatic producer who made things happen.
  • The Critic - the eagle-eyed evaluator who refined what the Dreamer and Realist produced.

The article draws upon a book by Robert Dilts, who studies “Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) (which) explores the way people sequence and use fundamental mental abilities such as sight, hearing and feeling in order to organize and perform in the world around them.”

Quoting Dilts, “Walt Disney’s ability to connect his innovative creativity with successful business strategy and popular appeal certainly qualifies him as a genius in the field of entertainment. In a way, Disney’s chosen medium of expression, the animated film, characterizes the fundamental process of all genius: the ability to take something that exists in the imagination only and forge it into a physical existence that directly influences the experience of others in a positive way.”

So my only question is, which one of the heads got frozen?

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Innovation Requires Taking Time to Think

Thinking time = Better innovation admonishes us to invest an hour each week to stop and think and offers some guidelines to make good use of that hour. The best part is that this can be done practically anywhere, as long as you have a means to record your thoughts. Creatives can apply this as well; just one creative challenge at a time, please.

(via Innovation Tools.)


In Your Face, MBAs! Pt. III

When I came across this recent ChangeThis Manifesto, I just had to smile, as it dovetails so neatly with this week’s other posts.

Ending the Illusion of Control notes “the dismal historical track record of much, if not most, economic forecasting”. 

Planning and forecasting have their place. Unfortunately, they are wrought with uncertainty. Making matters worse is the fact that “humans, driven by over-optimism and wishful thinking, often underestimate uncertainty even more than statistical models do”.

The authors assert that forecasts can be as addicting and dangerous as cigarettes and, therefore, should have warning labels. 


Download it now.


A Toe in the Rapids

Creative Reaction is giving Twitter a try.


In Your Face, MBAs! Pt. II

Just yesterday, I posted about the fallacy of trying to control the future by predicting it, and now I’ve come across this. Matt at Signal vs. Noise  summarizes a long book-launching interview, in three simple points:

  1. Conventional approaches and planning don’t work when you’re trying to get into new spaces
  2. Assumptions are what get most companies into trouble, and
  3. It’s not failure that companies need to avoid, but rather “failing expensively”
  4. If I could add a fourth point it would be this:

  5. A company’s best ideas will fall through the cracks unless there is a way to capture and process them 

So harness the collective insights of your employees. Move ahead quickly and get new products or services in front of people. Plan in such a way that when things do not go exactly as planned, you can quickly recover and move in a better direction.

Small businesses, you can take these cutting-edge insights which some of the more innovative corporations are implementing, and use them to your advantage within days, not months!


In Your Face, MBAs!

A really interesting piece on Mavericks at Work contrasts the differences in thinking between MBAs and Entreprenuers, and declares that Entrepreneurs are better suited to survive tough times. (Life is too short for spoiler alerts.)

The post focuses on the fascinating research of Saras D. Sarasvathy, which focuses on “the ‘causal’ reasoning used by MBAs versus the ‘effectual’ reasoning used by entrepreneurs.”

Lifting an entire section from the post:

Causal reasoning, she explains, “begins with a pre-determined goal and a given set of means, and seeks to identify the optimal—fastest, cheapest, most efficient, etc.—alternative to achieve that goal.” This is the world of exhaustive business plans, microscopic ROI calculations, and portfolio diversification.

Effectual reasoning, on the other hand, “does not begin with a specific goal. Instead, it begins with a given set of means and allows goals to emerge contingently over time from the varied imagination and diverse aspirations of the founders and the people they interact with.” This is the world of bootstrapping, rapid prototyping, and guerilla marketing.

The MBAs’ fallacy is that they try to predict and thereby control the future. Entrepreneurs forge ahead using the resources at hand and nimbly adjust to surprises.

Worth reading. Check it out.

So much for my “getting an MBA for the fun of it” plans. Unless there’s such a thing as a strictly entrepreneurial MBA. Hmmm…