Archive for the 'Creativity' Category

Trampoline presentation

Keith October 24th, 2009

I’ll be off to trampoline in just a few hours, with the intention of doing a presentation on “The Idea Monopoly?” I have blogged on this topic before, and you can see the slide pack on SlideShare here.

The topic of organisational change – and getting people more involved in it – is something I have been becoming quite passionate about for a while now.  This presentation at trampoline will be the first time I have presented on the topic. I intend to develop this work, and its linking themes, in time to come.  I am currently playing with a new term for this – “orgsourcing”. You heard it first here!

Creativity and Constraint

Keith September 2nd, 2009

At yesterday’s Creative Performance Exchange meeting, we held an “unconference” session.  People nominated to present twenty minute “mini-sessions” on a range of topics at one of three tables, and the rest of us chose to sit in on whichever topic was of interest.  We cycled through the mini-sessions three times, so there were nine in total.  Great fun, and a great way to spark new ideas and innovation.

One of the sessions I attended was led by Don Miller, of the Melbourne Centre for Ideas. Don briefly spoke about the comparison between western ideas of freedom, and how “total” freedom can actually limit creativity. (My paraphrase.) The point is – when we are given some form of constraint, we can often become more creative.  Some creative fields come with built-in constraints.   For example, an architect will usually be constrained by the available land area, and by design restrictions imposed by materials, technology, planning regulations, etc.  When we start to test imposed limits, we can also frequently break new creative ground.

To my mind, a classic case of this is the design of the Sydney Opera House.  When Jørn Utzon first drafted his designs for the famous “sails”, it was said that it would be impossible to build with the concrete technology available at the time. The design was changed during the development process, yet it is unlikely that the current globally-recognised design would have ever been built if the construction limitations had not been pushed as they were.

Don led us in a brief exercise to illustrate creativity under constraint. We were asked to spend 10 minutes writing – on whatever topic we chose – with the constraint that every word must include the letter ‘e’.  We were also asked to write at least six lines of text. 

Given that ‘e’ is the most common letter in the English language, this is not as severe a constraint as restricting other letters, yet still enough of a constraint to encourage some creativity! For one thing, it completely rules out the conjunctions ‘and’ and ‘but’, forcing some creative use of punctuation to replace them.  (Try it for yourself.)

At the end of the session , we all read out our pieces.  The seven or so of us at the table were all able to complete the task, with a very varied set of results.  One was a “meta-text” – a piece about the task itself.  For reference, here’s my piece:

Wearily, Eve went westerly.  She previously called her boyfriend, when her vehicle expired. He delayed. She waited; she waited. Darkness fell. Remoteness, loneliness grew. She called repeatedly – response lacked. Heavily, she trudged ahead, seeking help.

Lightness somewhere, beyond the trees. Her prayers went heavenward; her feet westward.

Where’s Edward?

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The Art of Business

Keith March 24th, 2009

I delivered a presentation yesterday that I really enjoyed putting together, and it was great fun to deliver!

The brief was a keynote presentation for Panviva’s annual SupportPoint User Conference.  SupportPoint is a “Business Process Guidance” system.

The brief was to deliver a Keynote presentation, and to set the theme for the conference: “Communication and Collaboration”.  The underlying theme that I used to couch this on was Creativity, and the importance of creativity in both leadership and knowledge work.  The slide pack is available on SlideShare.

I have used this as a good opportunity to shake off (at least some of) the shackles of PowerPoint – by using lots of pictures, and a lot less words.  Some of the photos are mine, and most of the rest are Flickr “Creative Commons – Attributions” licensed photos, all with links on the relevant slides.

As there are lots of pictures, some of the slides may not be clear without the voice over (which maybe I’ll add to SlideShare later).  The initial point is explaining my initial perceptions of creativity – influenced by the paintings of both my mother and my sister.  (See the post “Moving mountains” on this site for more of this story.)

The next section refers to the material in this post on creativity in leadership, and briefly touches on my thoughts on Change Management. I then go over some of my past experiences with a Knowledge Management Toolkit, and how we went about developing it.  The final part of the presentation picks up on a recent post on story at Anecdote, which includes a link to the story of “the one-armed boy”.

With that explanation, I hope it all makes sense, and that you enjoy this as much as I did!

Mr. Conroy, you are Talking Cock!

Keith November 13th, 2008

Talking Cock (v.): A Singaporean term meaning either to talk nonsense or engage in idle banter.
 
- The Coxford Singlish Dictionary

Over the last few years, I have had the privilege of traveling to Singapore on a number of occasions to speak at conferences.  I have greatly enjoyed the experience - both the conferences, and wandering around Singapore as a tourist.  I have met some fantastic people there, and have greatly enjoyed the culture – and the food!

Singapore is a land of contrasts.  It is richly multicultural, with all public signage in four languages.  The population is predominantly Chinese, yet most of the public institutions are as British as they were before independence.  It has earned a reputation as a non-democratic nation, yet the country is alive with art and innovation, and not in the least like a totalitarian state.  I feel safer walking around the streets anywhere in Singapore than I do in some parts of Melbourne.

Some would like to portray Singapore as a place where freedom of speech is suppressed by the government, yet Singapore is now becoming increasingly open. One friend I have made in Singapore is Enrico Varella.  Enrico introduced me to a fantastic local web site – Talking Cock.

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Clancy on video

Keith November 5th, 2008

Well, as promised threatened, a video of “Clancy of the Knowledge Flow” is now available on YouTube. (If you want to skip the introduction, the music starts at 1:40 into the video.)

Read more about this on the previous post here, or go directly to the full list of the lyrics.

Nostalgia – it ain’t what is used to be

Keith November 3rd, 2008

I have just been along to a reunion at my old school – Colac High School, in western Victoria.  I have only ever been to one of these before, and that was a long time ago.  All the more interesting this time, as this will be the last reunion at that campus, after something like 96 years of a school on that site.  A new, single campus is now taking over from the two original government schools – once the High and Tech schools.

It was an interesting experience.  Trying to recognise people after all these years was particularly interesting.  Some of the school-ground and buildings seemed almost identical to what I remember.  Some of the buildings do seem much smaller than I remember, too!  The old back-stage lighting control room in the hall was boarded up! I spent many happy hours there… Some of the locations brought back poignant memories, one of which I have written about here

I met a few of my classmates.  It was interesting comparing notes on the events of the intervening years.  I didn’t really ever engage with school much, or with many of the people there.  It was great to be able to effectively start off all over again with the people that I did meet. I may be in touch with some of them again.  I even met an old family friend, who had apparently once been a student there.

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The child inside

Keith October 31st, 2008

“We go on being children, regardless of age, because in life we are always encountering new things that challenge us to understand them, instances where a practiced imagination is actually more useful that all laboriously acquired knowledge.” – Milan Kundera.

This is quoted from an essay by Shaun TanPICTURE BOOKS: Who Are They For?

C S Lewis has also written (in the Narnia chronicles) on the importance of retaining a child’s view of the world.  (Not to mention the biblical injunctions.)

I have recently completed the StrengthsFinder assessment.  The accompanying book by Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton provides a brief description of how the human brain develops.  We are born with “a hundred billion neurons”, and we keep “about that many up until late middle age.” More importantly, these neurons form connections – synapses – with each other.

By the age of three, “each of your hundred billion neurons has formed fifteen thousand synaptic connections with other neurons.”  But from this age, these connection start to fall into disrepair.  “… between the ages of three and fifteen you lose billions and billions of these carefully forged synaptic connections.  By the time you wake up on your sixteenth birthday, half your network is gone.”

This may not be final – there has been some recent work on brain plasticity (by Norman Doidge in The Brain That Changes Itself) – but it appears that in general the connections within our brain do not change appreciably after that age.

However, Buckingham and Clifton state that our effectiveness depends on how well we capitalise on our strongest connections; the point of the book and assessment.

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Paycheck

Keith October 23rd, 2008

US researchers said they are able to selectively erase memories from mice in a laboratory, raising hopes human memory afflictions like post-traumatic stress syndrome can one day be cured. 

An initial step has now been taken towards the ability to erase memories.  This takes us one step towards the scenario in Philip K Dick’s story – now also John Woo movie, starring Ben Affleck and Uma Thurman – Paycheck.

In the movie, this capability is used for less altruistic purposes. 

Even though most science fiction writers deny that they predict the future, it is always interesting to see life imitating art…

Clancy of the Knowledge Flow

Keith October 21st, 2008

One of the highlights of this year’s actKM Conference was the Collaboration Cabaret. This is well documented on Serena Joyner’s site.

My contribution to this was a musical item.  It was introduced something like this:

Australia actually has a long history in Knowledge Management.  Over a hundred years ago, we had two key practitioners in the field – ‘Banjo’ Paterson and Henry Lawson.  They did some ground-breaking work in conveying knowledge of life in rural Australia to the emerging urban environment. 

They collected knowledge using Anecdote Circles (around the campfire) and delivered it as Springboard stories, often published in a major Knowledge Management publication of the day, The Bulletin magazine.

Tonight, we will look at one of Banjo’s key archetypical characters, Clancy of the Overflow.  Clancy works in an ideal environment as a drover.  The Narrator is contemplating his lot in his “dingy office”. 

We are updating the story: how would these knowledge workers fare in today’s collaborative environment?

To find out, read the full lyrics.  Breaking news: The video is now on YouTube here.

Managing Knowlege for Competitive Advantage

Keith October 13th, 2008

On my way to this year’s actKM Conference.

Should be a fun couple of days!  While I am only booked in to this one as a regular attendee, I am also taking part in the activity on Tuesday night – the “Collaboration Cabaret”.  All will be revealed in due course!

I expect that I will be tweeting at the event – tag will probably be #actkm08.

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