Beyond Innovation.Creating conditions for Creativity by Carol Becker.

This post is a personal summary of the article published by IEDP, developing leaders issue 12, 2013.

Carol Becker is a professor of the Arts and Dean of Columbia University School of the Arts and she’s invited to speak about leadership and creativity at the world Economic Forum in Davos.The reason why she’s invited to speak to? Everybody agrees that new ideas are essential to the future well-being of society; therefore everybody wants to know how new ideas can best be cultivated among those who will have to lead the future.

According to Carol Becker, “ideas come from the particularity of individual thought, which is most effectively accessed when we cultivate the totality of each person”. In order to achieve that, “all kind of consciousness –the rational mind, the unconscious world of dreams, unexpected associations, imagination, fantasy, play and intuition- must have room to develop. If people are cut off from these multiple intelligences, then they cannot access their total full creative potential”.

To Foster creativity and innovation more broadly she wonders why not make an educational environment which crosses boundaries of disciplines and does not privilege one type of consciousness over another. Then she continues enumerating the premises (often unspoken) upon which schools of arts are built.

1. Select people with the ability to enact unique forms of problem solving. Those with the most extravagant imaginations with which to approach the problems.

2. Create a holding environment which must be both consistently challenging and supportive where individuals feel secure enough to push themselves into unknown terrain, to experiment, to take risk and even to fail.

3. Encourage play. Play opens space in the human psyche. In play, all is possible. It is in this state that new ideas often emerge.

4. Focus on the innovation process and not on the output. Process yields results, but they are often not the results expected (fortunately!). One has to welcome the surprises that emerge and follow the pathways they open up in order for ideas to breathe themselves into existence.

5. Encourage hybridity –the mixing of elements and disciplines- to precipitate new knowledge.

“In such pedagogical environments”, she continues, “we rarely talk about creativity, in part because it is beneath, behind and in front of everything we do – like air”.

Don’t you think this premises should be applied to foster innovation within our companies too? Only those individuals and companies that fearlessly encourage invention will lead the way and have a chance to succeed in this rapidly changing environment. Think about it!