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What do chief executive officers really want? The answer bears important consequences for management as well as companies’ customers and shareholders. The qualities that a CEO values most in the company team set a standard that affects everything from product development and sales to the long-term success of an enterprise.

There is compelling new evidence that CEOs’ priorities in this area are changing in important ways. According to a new survey of 1,500 chief executives conducted by IBM’s Institute for Business Value (IBM), CEOs identify “creativity” as the most important leadership competency for the successful enterprise of the future.

That’s creativity—not operational effectiveness, influence, or even dedication. Coming out of the worst economic downturn in their professional lifetimes, when managerial discipline and rigor ruled the day, this indicates a remarkable shift in attitude. It is consistent with the study’s other major finding: Global complexity is the foremost issue confronting these CEOs and their enterprises. The chief executives see a large gap between the level of complexity coming at them and their confidence that their enterprises are equipped to deal with it.

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Frank Kern
Businessweek


Images from brain research conducted by the Mind Research Network. While intelligence and skill are associated with the fast and efficient firing of neurons in the brain, subjects who tested high in creativity had thinner white matter and connecting axons that slow nerve traffic. In these images, the green tracks show the white matter being analyzed. The yellow and red spots show where creativity corresponds with slower nerve traffic. The blue areas show where “openness to experience,” associated with creativity, corresponds with slower nerve traffic. (Photo: Rex Jung)

Grab a timer and set it for one minute. Now list as many creative uses for a brick as you can imagine. Go.

The question is part of a classic test for creativity, a quality that scientists are trying for the first time to track in the brain.

They hope to figure out precisely which biochemicals, electrical impulses and regions were used when, say, Picasso painted “Guernica,” or Louise Nevelson assembled her wooden sculptures. Using M.R.I. technology, researchers are monitoring what goes on inside a person’s brain while he or she engages in a creative task.

Yet the images of signals flashing across frontal lobes have pushed scientists to re-examine the very way creativity is measured in a laboratory.

“Creativity is kind of like pornography — you know it when you see it,” said Rex Jung, a research scientist at the Mind Research Network in Albuquerque. Dr. Jung, an assistant research professor in the department of neurosurgery at the University of New Mexico, said his team was doing the first systematic research on the neurology of the creative process, including its relationship to personality and intelligence.

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Patricia Cohen
New York Times

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We human beings have a long history of proposing theories to unify disparate truths. This yearning to find a transcendent meaning for separate bodies of evidence may be one of our distinguishing traits. You have probably noticed this impulse in your own life: a series of experiences prompts the sense that something is hidden in the bundle of them. Your inner smarts work on the challenge—rationally, via various unconscious processes, and even while sleeping. The “Aha!” moment of identifying the deeper pattern in the evidence is satisfying and joyful; it launches a whole new set of possibilities for you as a person, as an artist.

I see the separate disciplines and fields within the arts and arts learning in that light because, although they seem to comprise disparate bodies of truth, my gut tells me that meaningful, unifying, common truths await, hidden in plain sight. Truths, that when embraced, can change the status quo.

You would be hard pressed to argue that we are a unified field. Practitioners of different art forms just don’t think of themselves as part of a larger functional entity. Even though multidisciplinary performances and presentations are increasingly common, the various artistic tribes compete more often than they cooperate, believing that the concerns they share are less significant than the ones they face on their own. A regional theater company looks at a choral ensemble and does not see much resemblance; a string quartet looks at a small dance ensemble or a struggling art gallery and does not see itself mirrored there.

Likewise, the divisions within arts education never seem to resolve. We waste energy on the same familial tiffs we have had for decades: disciplinary instruction vs. arts integration, arts education for art’s sake vs. arts education to produce other benefits, certified arts instructors vs. teaching artists, in-school learning vs. all the learning that happens outside of school—and what about the granny who plays the ukulele? These old hostilities, prejudices, and cross-purposes persist within a culture of scarcity, eroding the expansive, inclusive impulses that got us into arts-learning in the first place.

As a consultant, I have had many opportunities to try to build local arts partnerships and consortia; the usual strategy is to identify common goals and thereby foster a joint commitment to actions that will lift all the organizational boats together. Sometimes progress is made, and there are inspiring examples of success in a few cities; more often, the separateness of the participants is palpable and pervasive, caution and distrust remain entrenched, and the proposed partners have no shared language. This last point takes a while to surface, and is hard to admit—each doesn’t really know what the other is talking about, or the separate fields don’t agree on some fundamental point. You don’t believe me? Try discussing with an artist from another discipline what you think creativity really is.

The current painful economic constriction may be the catalyst we need to change our habits of thinking and jump us out of our ruts. As Rahm Emmanuel said when he was appointed White House Chief of Staff: “A crisis is too good an opportunity to waste.”

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Eric Booth
Springboard for the Arts

I found a great video interview with Edsger Wybe Dijkstra. You have probably heard of Dijkstra’s algorithm. He invented it.

In the interview professor Edsger talks about his thoughts on software development. He compares two very different styles of programming – Mozart style of programming vs. Beethoven style of programming. When Mozart started to write, the composition was finished. He wrote manuscript in elegant handwriting in one go. Beethoven was a doubter and a struggler. He started writing before he finished the composition and then glued corrections onto the page. In one place he did it nine times. When they peeled them, the last version proved to be identical to the first one.

From the video one can understand that Edsger preferred Mozart’s style of programming. Not just programming, but Mozart style of doing things. He says that the most important thing has been the daily discipline of neatly writing down his thoughts.

His daily discipline lead to hundreds of crystal clear scientific papers, which have now been archived in EWD Archive.

At the beginning of video Dijkstra criticizes current software release methodology. He says that version 1.0 of should be the finished product…

Edsger Dijkstra’s quotes from video:

· Computer science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes.

· The competent programmer is fully aware of the limited size of his own skull. He therefore approaches his task in full humility and avoids clever tricks like the plague.

· We should not introduce errors through sloppiness but systematically keep them out.

· Program testing can convincingly show the presence of bugs but it is hopelessly inadequate to show their absence.

· Elegance is not a dispensable luxury but a factor that decides between success and failure.

Peteris Krumins
Good coders code, great reuse

Creative inspiration often strikes at the most unexpected times — in the shower, while out for a walk or lying on the sofa — and with depressingly less frequency at the office when workers are actually paid to generate it. But business travel can be fertile ground for discovering creative ideas for work or even a new business, many travelers say…

The reason travel spurs inspiration is the stimulus, said Jeannine McGlade, co-author of “Stimulated! Habits to Spark Your Creative Genius at Work.”

“When you’re in a new environment, you have what we call ‘eyes wide open,’ ” she said. “It’s not the ‘same old, same old’ where you tend to get into a rut and aren’t alert to having a ‘spark moment.’ Things are different and fresh during travel. You’re seeing things from a different perspective and you’re really paying attention…”

Rob Sherlock, chief creative officer, at Draftfcb added: “The best ideas and thoughts come when you’re outside of the office. If you live in a predictable way it’s a path of absolute sameness.”

But if budget or schedule preclude traveling regularly, don’t worry, Ms. McGlade said. Find small ways to get stimuli from a variety of sources. Read a variety of books and magazines, engage in a range of activities, socialize with different people and nurture your curiosity.

Sharon McDonnell
New York Times