Thursday, August 26, 2010

Inspired Minds at LRGS (Part 2): Creating Creative Leaders

I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about the idea of creative leadership. In a recent survey of 1500 CEOs conducted by IBM, a majority identified creativity as the most important characteristic for a leader to possess.

For anyone who has ever been at the helm of a large organization, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. The world is increasingly complex, and the problems that we will face in the coming decades will be nearly impossible to anticipate. We need leaders who can turn on a dime and use what is available to them to construct successful, innovative solutions.

This is one of the many reasons that I’m such a proud supporter of the InspirUS program at Lancaster Royal Grammar School. As I’ve mentioned many times before, InspirUS is a 10-week educational program for gifted students. It emphasizes creative thinking, problem-solving and understanding over rote memorization.

As we often say in the InspirUS program, the world needs more innovative leaders and creative thinkers, not more trivia experts.

This philosophy is becoming more widely adopted across Europe. In fact, 2009 was designated “The European Year of Creativity and Innovation,” by the European Union. The initiative aimed “to raise awareness of the importance of creativity and innovation for personal, social and economic development.”

Sadly, the United States has been slow to institutionalize creativity initiatives in its education system. And it certainly shows.

Newsweek recently drew attention to the “creativity crisis” in the United States. In fact, a look at the results of E. Paul Torrance’s well-known creativity test – or “CQ test” – reveals a startling downward trend. According to Newsweek:

“Kyung Hee Kim at the College of William & Mary discovered this in May, after analyzing almost 300,000 Torrance scores of children and adults. Kim found creativity scores had been steadily rising, just like IQ scores, until 1990. Since then, creativity scores have consistently inched downward. ‘It’s very clear, and the decrease is very significant,’ Kim says. It is the scores of younger children in America – from kindergarten through sixth grade – for whom the decline is ‘most serious.’”

Many of the professions that today’s younger generations will have don’t even exist yet. Which is why it’s so important to ensure that young men and women are versatile, confident thinkers who bring originality and insight to everything they do. That’s the goal of InspirUS, and it should be the goal of every school around the world.


Michael Pilon said...

I am a big fan of Dr Edward de Bono's books on creativity. His seminal book, "Lateral thinking" is an amazing look at how "Thinking outside the box" A follow up book, can be a daily exercise that is fun.
But such thinking is often stymied in large institutions. I was a dental officer in the Canadian Army and this type of creativity was being lost to "Getting ahead" and the fun went out of it for me. I now am in a one man clinic with a great staff and life is fun again. I escew the usual shirt tie andlab coat for hockey sweaters and cotton pants.
The reasons are several, the hockey shirt erases the white coat syndrome people feel at the detnal office, they are polyester and actually clean ebtter than full cotton ( Hell if your dentist is wearing a tie run for it, wool ties are a bateria's dream) and last theya re comfortable as hell :)

First time i saw Kevin roberts he was wearing an All Black's shirt. he got and kept my attention :)

andrew weir said...

InpirUS program looks great you know if any organisation offers an equivalent course for grown-up?

Susan P. said...

I can bet your boots if I pulled half a dozen people I consider creative munchkins into one area and presented them with the diamond pattern - and asked them to complete it - that they would all do that differently.

In fact, I can see a creative reason for leaving the whole lot blank. :))

What is interesting to observe is when, in a group of supposedly creative people - or supporters of the same - how that person who leaves them blank, can be treated.

The often systemic fear of DIFFERENCE is far more a problem to me in our industry, and in education, than any concern about creativity per se.

That said, let's not discard the issue of "trivia". It's not only creative scores that are dropping, but factual ones as well. Good old general knowledge is flying out the window.

I'm not convinced that creativity can fly without strong foundation skills. So, give me trivia, and then take me somewhere new with that or as an adjunct to that. Transport me, but allow me to be safe first via that solid grounding.

In a philosophical sense, working to measure and quantify 'magic' seems counter-intuitive, even though I understand the fulsome reasons for measuring ROI on creativity. :)

It's undeniable we need to know that our creative self has hit a need sweet spot or resolved a problem or, answered a call. And we need to know so that our creativity can respond and shape shift where need be.

BUT, pull me into a room and give me the diamonds and I would perhaps fold the page into a pocket kerchief as a protest.