Six Words of Wisdom with Fredrik Haren
Based on your current work – if you had only six words of advice to give a business, what would they be?
Creative Mind. Never Used. Too Bad.
What does this mean?
It’s a play on that devastating six-word short story commonly (though falsely) attributed to Hemingway. Equally devastating is that humanity possesses a huge potential for creativity – but for the vast majority of people, this potential will go unfulfilled. If everybody reached their full creative potential, the world would be a better and happier place, but most people aren’t even close to reaching half their potential for various reasons.
It might be their upbringing, if they weren’t raised to believe in themselves or to question or to dream, or they’re filled with doubt and lacking in confidence, or they simply lack the right tools and resources – there are endless reasons, many of which are culturally imposed. Take the dinner table: in this part of the world, we eat nearly all our meals with a knife and fork – no choice! Here, creativity is being stifled because our possibilities for personal choice are limited due to cultural norms. But if you go to China as a Westerner, for example, it’s not unusual for a knife, fork, spoon, chopsticks, and various other culinary utensils to be placed in front of you because they don’t know what your preferences are. New possibilities for creativity open up, and you are liberated from the tyranny of the Western dinner table and free to eat your meal as you like, unencumbered by cultural practices and norms. This can be applied to the business world – what cultural practices are informing your business strategy and inhibiting your growth? What learnings can you take from other business cultures and apply to your own business strategy?
Curiosity is vital for both creativity and leadership. Leaders must be be curious, but it’s arguably more important that leaders encourage and foster that creativity in others. Leaders should ask questions to show teams they care, not just as employees but as induvial human beings. Not small talk, but real questions. Teams will feel when that curiosity – and care – is lacking. It’s vital that leaders spark not only their own creativity, but the creativity of others around them and disseminate that into the business. Exercises could be completing a one page document mapping out one’s own creative process, and then having the entire team do the same in order to maximise the team’s creative potential.
Because creativity is a process – one which should be interrogated and defined. There are many different stages in this process of taking an idea and making it happen: the original inspiration, the Eureka moment, the innovation phase, then testing and development – not counting the many stages of the process which don’t have a name…yet. Naming the different stages of the process helps make creativity less of a magical black box, as does studying the creative process of those around you and immersing yourself in a multitude of influences. Inspiration is breathing in (all those influences), but creativity is breathing out – and creating.
Leaders should strive to be explorers, not experts – because an expert knows everything, whereas an explorer is voyaging into the unknown, one who is constantly learning and curious to learn more. Another reason why creativity and curiosity are so vital for leadership – because leaders must be constantly learning and adapting to a fast-moving business landscape, where the pace of change brings forth never-before-seen challenges and disruptions that only the creative efforts of a team inspired by a creative leader can solve.
Where should we look for further information?
Fredrik Haren is The Creativity Explorer. He has spent the last 25 years traveling the world to learn as much as he can about human creativity. He is the author of ten books – including “the idea book” which was included in “the 100 best business books of all time” and Fredrik has been invited to speak more than 2000 times in 70 countries on 5 continents. As The Creativity Explorer, he aims to discover more about human creativity, be it from innovators in Silicon Valley or nomads in the desert of Mongolia.
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