Summary:Andrew Grant showed the CIOs to learn to see the unexpected, and discover creative solutions that were possibly there all the time but may have been overlooked.
At the CIO 100 Awards symposium, Andrew Grant spoke about how solving today’s problems requires being open to new ideas. “It’s the individuals and organisations that get into this new space first that are the most rewarded. Today’s success is no excuse to sit back, since as soon as one sits back others are ready to overtake. Being creative is not a one off event but a constant vigilant mindset,” he said.
The death of creativity
“A crime scene investigation is underway to investigate a death. This is not an average death, this is the death of creative thinking,” he said. Quoting several studies, Andrew bought to attention the fact that while IQ levels have been rising owing to enriched environments creativity scores have actually been falling over time. He said that this decline is also evident across an individual’s lifespan. “We have been fortunate to work with some of the world’s most creative companies, and yet when we survey our workshop participants only about 10 percent of participants say they are functioning to 100 percent of their creative ability,” he said. “The reason for this is due to the fact that their brains are simply overwhelmed by the amount of information they are exposed to and need to deal with on a regular basis,” he added.
Who killed Creativity?
Andrew asked the CIOs to identify and deal with the creativity blockers (the killers) and activating the enablers (the rescuers). “We have narrowed down the list of suspects to 7 key profiles. By recognising and managing these effectively, we believe it will be possible to revive and nurture creative thinking,” he said.
Taking a creative approach, Andrew called them the control crew, the fear family, the pressure pack, insulation clique, apathy clan, narrow minded mob and the pessimism posse. He also provided several ways to deal with the creativity blockers. According to him, a creative mind must first find the creative space to open up possibilities away from distractions, and then it will be able to look for solutions outside of the system, for new paths. “Getting out of the system, or changing the frame of reference, will help to open up new possibilities.
When unfiltered information reaches the conscious awareness of people who are open to being creative, and when they can process this information without being overwhelmed, it can lead to exceptional insights,” he remarked.
How to get creativity back
Andrew highlighted the lack of awareness using several ‘magic tricks’ and videos. He also explained how professional magicians can direct an audience’s attention to one restricted area while the magician works in a much broader area – outside the ‘box’. He said that this was the simple premise behind all magic tricks and our best definition of creative thinking. “The ability to look for solutions way beyond boundaries set up by our current environment, habitual ways of thinking, and standard ways of doing things.
Don’t be fooled by the magician’s tricks – or the norms and standard expectations. Start to look outside where you have been directed to look. A whole new world might just open up,” he said. Grant urged the CIOs to learn to see the unexpected, and discover creative solutions that were possibly there all the time but may have been overlooked. Agreeing that all of us need normal pattern-seeking brain behaviour to survive normal everyday day life, as without patterns and ‘norms’ our brains cannot make sense of the huge amount of stimulus that comes in each day. “But there are times when we need to let go of these pattern-making predispositions,” he pointed out.
On the other hand, Grant warned about how there are those who have been driven to creative insanity by not being able to relax into familiar patterns. “There are many tortured souls unable to know when or how to switch between these two states. The key here is that we need to know when and how to actively access our creative brain, and when to simply leave it running more passively in the background,” he said.