2020 Reflections – On creativity

Adam Grant is one of my favourite organizational psychology authors. He is a professor in the Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania and has been making his mark by challenging us to think differently about ourselves and our organizations. I shared some insights gleaned from his first book, Give and Take in the August 2015 communiqué. (For a summative visual see the bottom of this page online.) I am reading his latest book, Originals – How Non-Conformists Move the World, for a future communiqué. However, he has also written articles on key ideas and done a few interviews based on the research that led to his latest book.

In his article in the Harvard Business Review article, How to Build a Culture of Originality he says: “When everyone thinks in similar ways and sticks to dominant norms, businesses are doomed to stagnate. To fight that inertia and drive innovation and change effectively, leaders need sustained original thinking in their organizations. They get it by building a culture of nonconformity.”

This sounds a little scary especially when we have built structures and systems that reinforce conformity and consistency. But Grant makes a compelling case for introducing lots of opportunities for generative thinking and small change actions throughout and across the organization. While focused more on the domains of business and industry, many of his concepts still apply to the social care sector; we need to re-imagine many of the ways that we do our work to address the pervasive, intractable, and ever-changing social issues that we care about. Of particular value is his commentary on how we as leaders can foster an environment of creativity and innovation by creating space for non-conformity

To hear Grant talk more about his work, you can check out the interview, Six Secrets to True Originality, which includes both narrative and video clips on topics such as avoiding group think, reframing your creative process, not worrying about being too old, and learning how to procrastinate artfully.