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  • bjbj|:|: Everyone should have a little packet of stuff that got handed out. And what I'd

  • like to share today is something that I've been kind of exploring and working on for

  • quite a while, but it's recently kinda come to a new catalyzing point. And I noticed some

  • of my other colleagues in this so-called "rock block" mentioned the thing you need to know

  • about me. And I guess if there's one thing you need to know about me, it's that I'm a

  • wonderer. I wonder a lot. I design. I drive. I do other human, regular things, but I actually

  • do wonder, and I look up at the clouds, and I kind of think about things. I wonder about

  • big things, like where's technology going, and is that interaction gonna work for the

  • customers that we're designing it for. And I wonder about little things, like where I

  • put my keys. But part of it is I wonder about creativity, and I wonder about the activity

  • of having ideas, both as individuals and as part of a community of practice. And in the

  • field that we're in, that's increasingly the skill that we need to be able to make sure

  • is we're always on our game. And I like to think about ideas, and having ideas is like

  • breathing, right? You start with questions. You breathe the questions in, and then somehow

  • you breathe those ideas out. And it's kind of an iterative process, and it goes back

  • and forth, and ideas and questions come in all different shapes and sizes. But it's that

  • process of breathing and being really good at it that I think is part of an exchange

  • with the world. And working in creative teams, how we can facilitate our own creative exchanges,

  • I think is part of what it means to be in an organization that can learn, that can advance,

  • that can solve hard problems when they come up, and that can constantly be thinking about

  • new ways to approach the problems that as Cameron said earlier in the talk, the new

  • problems that come up every day. So I also like to think about ideas a little bit like

  • sex, right? So you wanna have a lot of 'em, and you want 'em to be really awesome every

  • time, and you wanna have 'em with great people. So with that kind of as our foundation, I

  • thought we could structure the time today a little bit as breathing in and breathing

  • out. So for the first half of the day or our session together, I'll be breathing out and

  • telling you some things. And in the second half, you'll be breathing out, and we'll be

  • sharing things together, like capturing some of our own knowledge and what we do in our

  • own organizations to foster a creative culture. So speaking of wondering, this was a catalyzing

  • event. I was about to get on a plane, and I was in the bookstore. And I love Harvard

  • Business Review, and with a title like Harvard Business Review on Breakthrough Thinking,

  • how can you go wrong? So I bought this book, and I was reading it on the plane, and this

  • one article really stood out. This was an article called "How to Kill Creativity." That's

  • just a buzzkill right there. But it was fascinating, and this is written in 1998. The Harvard Business

  • Review imprint is kind of a collection, a curatorial collection of past articles that

  • have been published in the mag. And Dr. Teresa Amabile is a researcher who's been working

  • on organizational creativity for over 35 years. So she has this ginormous body of really interesting

  • work about organizational and personal creativity. And as I was reading it, not only is her work

  • very well founded, a lot of anecdotal but also empirical evidence from organizations,

  • but it also had this really beautiful structure to it, and I just couldn't get it out of my

  • mind. And I had to put it down there because I thought, "You know, if this was in some

  • kind of visual framework kind of form, I wonder if I could use this to be more knowledgeable

  • and thoughtful about the kind of everyday practices we do at Adaptive Path, and get

  • better at them, make sure we don't lose anything with some of our activities, that we enforce

  • the creative culture, and fill in some of the gaps that I know we have." So into this

  • thing. So this thing is an accounting of the article, with some extensions and enhancements

  • based on my experience at Adaptive Path, that kinda tries to structure what's at play within

  • an environment of creativity, and specifically a creative culture. And the way that it's

  • framed is in three kinda major ways. So the idea is that this blueprint can work as kind

  • of a guide for creative culture, 'cause it frames it in three big chunks. One, how do

  • you get it? How do you initially create a creative culture? The second one is, how do

  • you nourish it, foster it? And the third one is, how do you support it? And those sound

  • like they might all be the same thing, but there's some really different interesting

  • principles at play with those. So after I made this framework, I went through a bunch

  • of our activities this is just a little bit of a side project behaviors and practices,

  • things we do at Adaptive Path, to see why were these things working. I don't know if

  • you experienced this, but occasionally there's a behavior or a meeting or an activity you

  • do as a company, and you think, "Oh, that feels like us. It feels right." And then someone

  • comes in, and they wanna change it, or your organization grows and it's not working any

  • longer, and you think, "Well, we can't get rid of that. That's like our heart and soul."

  • You can't really put your finger on why. And I found that, by using this kind of blueprint

  • as a framework, I could better understand why, and that meant we were okay to mix things

  • up and change things when they needed to be changed. There wasn't that fear of losing

  • something really important. So I'm just gonna walk through a little bit of the structure

  • of the blueprint. It's divided into three different zones. First one's they're all labeled,

  • but they're very teeny print, as Peter said. So the first zone is what creates a creative

  • culture, what feeds it,

  • and then the last one, what supports it. And then if you do any reading around creative

  • literature or kind of the nature of how ideation and new things happen in organizational structures,

  • you'll probably recognize things like this. So there's the second piece of the structure

  • of these areas, and there's nine of them. And they have these big, broad words, right?

  • Like "expertise," "creative thinking skills," or "motivation." There's huge bodies of work

  • just on these topics alone. "Challenge," "freedom," "resources," and they all sound so great,

  • but when you start to actually put your mind around what that means, it gets very it's

  • too abstract. You kinda can't connect to it. I don't know what freedom looks like at Adaptive

  • Path. I think I have it, but I don't really know. Especially in the organizational structure

  • section. So work group features. Well, we all got 'em, whether or not they're good,

  • right? But what does that really mean? And a lot of the literature kinda stays at this

  • level, and it gives you great anecdotes and examples. But it doesn't give you something

  • to play with, some tool or some kinda system, as BJ Fogg might reference. So the cool part

  • about the article and the extensions to it are, there's actually these 32 elements that

  • sit underneath those areas that start to give more specificity and life. These are things

  • like passion, which admittedly is still pretty open and broad. But there's examples. There's

  • little bits of that that actually help you say, "Oh, I know how I can work on that in

  • the organization," or "I can see that." Things like time for exploration. If I asked you,

  • "Harry, do you have time for exploration in your design creative practice at your work?

  • no. He would say no. But he'd have an answer, right? What if I said, "Do you have resources?"

  • Well, yeah, but that doesn't mean anything. So things like goals that don't shift, as

  • we all know. Card. Thank you, by the way, for the and time for exploration. Those are

  • things that research has shown really are important to foster a sense of creative practice,

  • freshness, and enlivening us. And then onto the organization section, things like mandating

  • information-sharing is one that occurred. And it's just one example that companies who

  • have essentially forced or mandated information-sharing have started to see really different responses

  • in how their communities of practice start to interrelate and cross-pollinate ideas.

  • And so using this blueprint, there's two major ways that I've been playing with it, and this

  • all part of a greater experiment to see how far this can go. You can use it as an assessment

  • tool. So you can go through, look at some of the elements that are at play, and say,

  • "How do we do that? Do we do that thing? Do we have time for exploration? Yes, no?" You

  • can use it to kinda figure out a gap analysis for yourself. Or you can also use it as an

  • ideation tool. What kinds of activities or practices could we do every day that can be

  • simple, cheap, and become part of our everyday, habitualized activity that could reinforce

  • or promote this activity? And then the kicker is making sure you were working at the right

  • level of scale, right? So activities still is pretty an open term, but things like meetings,

  • resources or rooms, physical space. Conferences like this would be considered an activity,

  • a place where you can go, get outside of your own design challenges and socialize around

  • ideas. Routines, behaviors, policies are also activities. And by putting these two pieces

  • to work, you can actually start to play with and craft your own creative culture. So I'm

  • gonna walk through just about three different examples, because you know it's coming, right?

  • I'm gonna ask you to write one of these down from your own culture, so start thinking.

  • And hopefully, if you had a chance to even take a glance at it, you'll already have a

  • little bit of a preview. But I wanna walk you through three that are part of the 57

  • that I've collected both from Adaptive Path, interviews with people, as well as just magazines

  • and articles that I've been reading. And the first so the blueprint of one of these, like,

  • note cards that are capturing this activity is to just write it down in as simple, basic

  • terms as possible. This actually isn't rocket science. There are things that we forget about

  • because there's so much part of our daily routine. So here's one called Five-Minute

  • Madness. We do this at Adaptive Path. It's a session of five minutes where you pose a

  • question that you think may or may not be true. And then we do this at our company meetings

  • once a month, and there's six slots. You sign up. And for five minutes, the group discusses

  • that question. But the kicker is, you have to kinda say something you don't think is

  • true, or might not be true, or you're not sure. So it's automatically kind of an odd

  • thing to be doing. After the group discusses it, five minutes, stop sign goes up, you're

  • done, but it's been a little bit of that getting it out there, starting to foster other conversations.

  • What's interesting about this is, when you start to take it and deconstruct it and put

  • it against the creative blueprint, some really important fundamental pieces start to emerge,

  • right? So departing from the status quo. You have to say something you think isn't true,

  • so it's a place where groupthink can't be the No. 1 it can't be the informing part of

  • the question. You're forced to get outta your comfort zone. It encourages diverse perspectives

  • in our work groups, because you're used to listening to a different perspective and point

  • of view. In fact, you expect it. It reinforces open communication. It says that our company

  • meetings, this is a place where you can say something, not be sure, but rely on the group

  • social aspect to help you make those ideas better. For the recipients or the listeners,

  • it helps you meet things with an open mind. So you hear something that "Holy crap, that's

  • wrong." But you're there, and you're able to actually balance in practice, not having

  • that gut "no" reaction, that negative bias. And honestly, without Five-Minute Madness,

  • I don't think I'd be standing up here doing something, an activity in a venue I've never

  • done before, with more people than I've ever done it before, because really, Five-Minute

  • Madness is about taking risks. It's kinda hard to stand up in front of your colleagues

  • and say, "Here's something I don't think is true." It's even worse to kinda be wrong or

  • think you're wrong in front of your colleagues. But, you know, if you practice, you could

  • get really good at it, as I have learned. So that's one of them. The second is something

  • that many companies do, and I hope that this will make the activity part of it feel pretty

  • accessible, is brown bags. Someone from either the organization or outside the organization

  • comes in. You have lunch. You listen to what they gotta say. Google puts theirs on video.

  • A lot of the other big companies down south, in Silicon Valley, have open ones the public

  • can come to. And, again, when you put this against some of the practices, you hear you

  • start to realize it's firing on different levels. So we've heard from a variety of futurists,

  • people doing interesting research, and what it does is it gets out of our own problem

  • space and helps us understand themes and trends in other problem spaces, and that's part of

  • that creative thinking skill set that we need to have. We also ask folks if they wanna share

  • their portfolio. It's like any time you join an organization. It's like that person's brand

  • new when they walk in and they've never done anything before, unless they insist on telling

  • you about it, right? But this is a chance to kinda have a little bit of a ride-along

  • to who they were before. That means you can get to know their skills and abilities in

  • a way that might not come up naturally within the course of your work together. Also ad

  • hoc working sessions. Just working with people that you don't always have an opportunity

  • to work with can smooth quite a bit of those paths when you are in a critical project and

  • you have to have a good working relationship based on honesty and an open mind. And then

  • the last one, and this is directly kind of an assault against many colleagues who feel

  • that meetings are essentially the death knell of any kind of productive behavior, right?

  • Like show up in a meeting worse yet, standing meetings. God forbid, you meet once a week

  • to talk to people that you work with, right? But as part of our sales consulting meeting,

  • we do a few things within the body of that meeting that I think are unusual. So the name

  • of this activity is weekly consulting sales meeting, and when we apply that against this

  • creative blueprint, you see that we actually have conversations around the fit between

  • practitioners and the nature of the creative work that's up for a possibility to work on,

  • from the point of Adaptive Path. We actually intentionally talk about that. We don't talk

  • necessarily about the approach and the fit, but we talk about how we get to a better approach

  • and fit. We talk philosophically about it. We also try and match people with assignments.

  • People are able to stand up and say, "That's interesting to me. I've done something like

  • that. That's a creative problem I wanna help solve." It's very hard to get that kind of

  • leverage and even that kind of insight or feedback in many companies. And if you make

  • a place for it, it'll happen, and then kinda natural collections of working teams start

  • to emerge. It also helps us know each other's passions. So even if you don't work on a project

  • that strikes at that heart of the passion, I know what it is. I can find out what Paula's

  • interested in, or Pam, or Peter, or any of their colleagues, because they're actually

  • vocal about it. They're used to stating what they expect in the world, and that makes it

  • more likely to happen. And that paves the way for shared excitement. When you are working

  • on a project, you know that when times get rough, people wake up and they say, "I signed

  • up for this because I'm interested and I care." So looking at the weekly consulting meeting

  • and saying "Wow, I think that's actually a driver of some pretty core fundamental creative

  • behaviors in our organization" was a real wakeup call for me. And I hadn't expected

  • that kinda follow-up and feedback from admittedly a very simple list of stuff kinda put together

  • in a visual model. So then the next question is, if you're gonna plus it or do something

  • more with it, how can we generate more of these things and capture more activities like

  • this and then socialize them? Because someone's organization might think, "Oh, it's old-hat

  • to have brown bags," but in another organization, that might just be that small, simple behavior

  • that can start to move things around. And thus was born this lightning session of rapid

  • collaboration. And so all you need to do such a thing is a visual prompt, something to write

  • on and write with, and a whole bunch of awesome, smart people, all with individual ideas that

  • just aren't connected yet. So the instructions now for the breathing I'm gonna start breathing

  • in; you guys are gonna start breathing out your creativity and your insights is a ten-minute

  • activity. And if you think that's short, it's okay. That's like four YouTube videos. Right?

  • [Audience laughter] Think how or even TED videos, right? So you can get a lot done in

  • ten minutes if you're focused. So we're gonna bring the lights up. I want you to look through

  • the teeny-tiny little print, but it is clear. It's just quite small. And look around for

  • something that seems to make sense. None of this is complex or should feel fairly obvious,

  • but look for something that you guys do. Do you feel like your money is appropriate amount?

  • Are there principles or practices in your company that help that be true? Human resources

  • policies, even? That might be something you wanna work on. How does your organization

  • communicate that the work matters? So just take a look through this, pick an element,

  • and then think about an activity. How does that actually take form in the world? So if

  • you have mutual support, how does that actually start to happen? When I was test-driving this

  • on a friend who works in a completely different field, he was irritated and said, "You know,

  • we don't have a creative culture. We don't have a creative company. I don't wanna do

  • this anymore." And he said and I'm like, "Well, when you work with people, how do you know

  • that you guys are supporting each other when times get rough?" He goes, "Well, we know

  • each other really well. We go to lunch every day." As a team. Their whole team. Every day.

  • I was like, "Well, that's an activity." He's like, "Really?" I'm like, "Yeah. You go to

  • lunch every day? You guys are actually there for each other." And then the last simple

  • step is just to write it down. Really basic. It might be a brown bag. It might be having

  • lunch. It might be that thing that helps get more exploration space or sticking to deadlines.

  • Holy crap, if anyone here has some good thoughts on that, I think there's gonna be a really,

  • really wild audience for those. And we're gonna do this in ten minutes, and the result

  • of this work, after we've captured things like this, is gonna be a whole bunch of things