Sunday, March 11, 2012

cre-a-tive Doing Business Differently

My daughter Michelle, a psychologist at UC Davis, taught me about Abraham Maslow  the creator of humanistic psychology. He  believes that every person has a strong desire to realize his or her full potential, to reach a level of "self-actualization".
Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs deals with the notion of self-actualization. Maslow believed that an individual could not achieve the level of self-actualization (a need to maintain and understand their conscious experience) if other, more basic, needs aren't met first. The hierarchy looks something like a pyramid with basic physiological needs on the bottom (food, water, etc) followed by safety, security + comfort on top, then belonging/social activity, then status & esteem and only then can a person self-actualize.
Maslow Hierarchy of Needs

Professor Maslow's  Hierachy of Needs has a key application in  employee motivation, as quoted by  Michelle from the book The Personality Puzzle by David Funder.
"Smart managers understand two things: (a) Employees will not show initiative and imagination unless they feel secure, and (b) employees who feel secure want something besides more money - they want to express themselves through their work by identifying with the organization's goals and contributing to them... Most companies are less insightful (he used Southwest airlines as an example of a smartly managed company),  but the great majority corporate world follows the conventional model: (a) when in doubt, lay off more people and (b) if the remaining employees are feeling overworked and under appreciated, pay them more."

Maslow is very popular all of a sudden and Harvard Business Review, New York Time. and Wall Street Journal  all dedicate article the new topic of  creativity.

From HBR Blog  by a graduate student" kpresson"
The figure explains that most of us do not know we are creative. Actually most people believe that in A slice at home, but at work, being creative is a sin and violates job descriptions. As we grow up from children to adults, we self-edit ourselves in more and more faked  standardized persons, that we think the society wants us to be and we will not succeed unless we all look like sort of identical bricks.

Quoting from HBR
This self-editing tendency becomes stronger and more instilled as we age. We are subject to standardized tests as the measure for achievement. In the words of William J. Wilson, a respected American sociologist, "But the person who scored well on an SAT will not necessarily be the best doctor or the best lawyer or the best businessman. These tests do not measure character, leadership, creativity, perseverance." 
Sure they are not!
So the question is - how should Harvard Business School be working to help us relearn and see the value in our creativity? Acknowledging a curriculum change is underway, a few ideas:
o  Add play to the curriculum (and not the pub crawl kind) - there are endless possibilities - community-created campus murals, throwing students into real-world business problems with little guidance, forcing students to display their logic and class comments visually, having more blogs like this one...
o  Make a greater effort to attract students with artistic and non-traditional backgrounds, those whose right brains have been cultivated. E.g., performing and classic arts. Exposure helps everyone involved.
o  Create environments and projects where open-ended brainstorming is a must. 
o  Continue to encourage and support entrepreneurship
o  Force students to "get their hands dirty ... If we're discussing or building a product-based business - we should hold and break down the physical product 
Note the extraordinary connection between entrepreneurship in creativity!  The bottom line, creative must come out of some tolerable chaos.  The creation involves contraction of the known corporate and HR dominated world, to make room for a new, imperfect oasis of apparent misfits that will generate creativity so we all can be all what we can be.
If different kinds of creative problems benefit from different kinds of creative thinking, how can we ensure that we're thinking in the right way at the right time? When should we daydream and go for a relaxing stroll, and when should we keep on sketching and toying with possibilities?
The good news is that the human mind has a surprising natural ability to assess the kind of creativity we need. Researchers call these intuitions "feelings of knowing," and they occur when we suspect that we can find the answer, if only we keep on thinking. Numerous studies have demonstrated that, when it comes to problems that don't require insights, the mind is remarkably adept at assessing the likelihood that a problem can be solved—knowing whether we're getting "warmer" or not, without knowing the solution.
The Wall Street Journal  article  How to be Creative is #1 in popularity and ends with these words:
Every creative story is different. And yet every creative story is the same: There was nothing, now there is something. It's almost like magic.


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