If you feel creativity is out of your reach, then you need to listen and be motivated by episode 14 with Michael Lee, from Create Your Creativity.

He’s the creator of the Innovation Explosion, a #BeyondDesignThinking workshop that restores your natural creative genius, and helps you maintain it going forward. Participants have doubled their mean creativity scores during the 8-week training.

As a Human Capacity Redesigner he helps businesses transform to create and implement breakthrough ideas.

Michael is also the Chief Visionary Officer of the Human Innovation Project. Which is a creativity-centred human capacity redesign partnership, helping companies transition to 4IR readiness through high-impact training, consulting, coaching, analysis, and implementation. HIP is a partnership between Create Your Creativity and the South African Creative Industries Incubator run by Beth and Freddy Arendse.

They ‘re-humanize’ organisations by re-organizing their humans.

The unique TRANSFORMATIONAL change management work brings together the best of international innovation strategic and creative expertise, and African indigenous approaches.

During the show Michael also talks about his involvement with Kindness Contagion Africa. The UN sent out a call for stars around the globe to share vital information about Covid-19. And Michael has taken action by working with African musicians to create kindnesscontagion.africa worth watching the song here

For a quick teaser…check out this video

Listen to the full episode …

[00:04:00] Being an Innotivity Instigator

There's the word in innotivity, which is the part you probably had to Google and you probably didn't do too well Googling it. And there's the term instigator, which is just a choice of a word.

It's, the problem is that, you know, when you say creativity, people think about arts, and, and, and like, you have to then explain to them why it's not about art. And then if you say innovation, people think it's about like machinery or, or technology, and you have to explain to them why it's not, you know, so in the book that I've written up, I’ve tried using the word innotivity, which is obviously a, you know, a sort of a portmanteau mixed together word of the two. And it sounds a lot better than like, crennovation. So, you know, for me innotivity is basically the whole process from there's a problem to solve, and then you implement the solution. So there's the creative part and the innovation part.

And I mean, really innovation is just creativity with action, you know?

[00:06:00] Creativity Coach Certification

Anyway, I've got a first round of students. We've just started a creativity coach certification process. So it’s the only one in the world that I know of, that's like an easily accessible one. I know there are a couple that exist, but they're like two year processes. And so we have uh, around 40 people that I'm going to test this out on them as well.

Mostly entrepreneurs, uh, businesses I've worked with have been smaller businesses also. And I guess if I have to make it up, looking at the statistics, a lot more women do it than men, which I find interesting.

That's all I can say. Basically, the point of it is to free your mind from itself, you know, and I, and you know we have this sort of personality we built up over time and we're very proud of it usually.

And that's terrific and it's deadly because the minute we get proud of who we are, we can only think the way that we think. And unfortunately that limits the ability to think in ways that are you know, broader than ourselves. So it's a challenge balancing between yeah, knowing who you are, being confident in yourself and all that, and still being open enough to be flexible, to go, you know, something that I wouldn't normally think is okay.

[00:12:31] Thinking Inside the Box

And the second thing is there's this idea of thinking out of the box. And I like to tell people really quickly, like you're not going to learn that from me because it's impossible to think out of the box. It's what human beings do, we think in the boxes. Yeah, that's actually what animals do. It's how we make judgments, it’s how we know what's right and wrong. What we do is we think into the box, how can you identify your box and say, this box that I have, I'd like to expand that box - much easier, right?

You have to change the boxes you have, rebuild new boxes, unlearn, relearn, but the idea of thinking out of the box is disastrous. It was the stupidest thing.

[00:16:18] Creativity is a Common Skill

You know, and one could go on with references to, you know, important institutions that have said creativity is the most important thing in the world. The world economic forum listed in 2015, that by now five of the top 10 skills in business would be creative skills. So on the one hand, it's very necessary.  On the other hand, it's actually very common for humans somehow. So why is it such a big deal? You know, it's because obviously we need to retool the way we do things and think, because there's something about the way that we've built our system around thinking that has led us to a point where everybody loses the most important skill we have, that we were born with.

[00:18:46] Giving Ourselves Permission to Transform

There's a lot of different tools that you can use, what we do is we go through step by step and go through that, you know, putting safety in place in terms of giving ourselves permission to transform. Right. Um, so the first step is putting safety in place to make our subconscious feel comfortable because our subconscious has basically spent our, most of our life being beat.

The next step is to look at who we are and, and what choices we have in shifting that and some people have done transformational work for a long time, and they're really, they're really open to the idea they can shift it. And some people don't get what you're talking about for a while, you know? Because they, they think that who they are is actually, uh, inevitable, um, which it's not.

It takes a lot of focus and a lot of training and a lot of work and a lot of thought, but you know, the idea that we are, who we are because of what happened in the past is actually completely false. We are who we are because we project what happened in the past, into our future in front of us and live into that future. Right. And we can shift that by simply projecting a different self into the future and living into that.

[00:28:11] Shifting Our Thinking

In order for us to shift the society, we have to start where it is and where it is, is that our school systems don't do that. And the only way we're going to shift that is by shifting the school system and for now retraining people who are already have already, you know, unfortunately lost that connection.

You know, the good thing about the current situation with COVID, you know, aside from the, aside from all the bad parts of it, like people dying and people losing their jobs and companies going out there and all the things that aren't good, the really great thing about it is that for 50 years, 50 years ago, Alvin Toffler already was predicting or projecting that the world had to change in a way that was more or as fundamental as an ice age or as fundamental as anything that had ever happened in human history.

He specifically compared it to, well, he had a list of other thinkers as well. They compare it to things like, you know, animals coming out of the water onto land or, or, you know, the, the shift from, um, from an agrarian society to a society where people were not, you know, not living in one place. nomadic thinking, the shift from a nomadic society to an agrarian society. So that the shift coming now is, is bigger than that shift.

[00:33:12] The Human Innovation Project

The first one is that in my organization that we've just started called the Human Innovation Project. My partner in that is really enthusiastic about education, including early education. And she's the chairperson of the presidential commission in South Africa on the future of work in the fourth industrial revolution, which until COVID hit was at full speed, like an out of control, train, uh, putting out, you know, about to put out their big report around the fourth industrial revolution.

It's been a bit delayed now, but she's very focused on early education and education in general, in the schools and so on. And, uh, so that's very good for me because I don't have any experience with that other than having been a product of it. So it's, it's, I think it's really important that we take this kind of thinking everywhere because in work it's critically important, in school, it's critically important, saving people from going through the trouble of having to relearn what they already knew in the first place.

[00:34:44] An Indigenous Approach to Innovation

Basically, you know, there's a Western quote unquote way, right? And most of the innovation thinkers that we refer to are inevitably Western, most of the men, most of them white.

And that way, there's nothing wrong with that way. It's absolutely exceptionally developed and, all of the ideas we work from generally come from there, it overlooks in some ways, systems that have been built up in the indigenous knowledge systems, uh, that are more intuitive, that are more emotionally based, that are more based on connecting to what we know.

There's a great Ted talk by Ken Robinson, which is the most watched Ted talk in history. Yes. More watched them than any celebrities, uh, that have done Ted talks. And it's all about how an education ruins creativity.

Right? So if you look at the 2% that remain creative geniuses in our society, according to these statistics, it's roughly relevant to the number of sharmans and artists and so forth. Even in a traditional society.

So I think when you look at the systems of traditional societies, you are looking at very specifically the people who were causing people to change, the shamans, the artists, the people that were recording history, that's where you find that in the indigenous and the indigenous cultures.

[00:40:34] Creativity Comes Out of Struggle

There's no creativity if there's no challenge, it's a very, very good point. You know, one of the things I like to point out is there's a difference between crisis and struggle. You know, we're currently in a situation of struggle, not crisis and people have it wrong. A crisis is usually something that is a very limited timeframe.

Right? It's something where you have to act quickly in order to survive the moment. I mean, maybe it's just the use of words, but to distinguish between them, you know, a crisis is when you walk through the bush and there's a lion in front of you. That's a crisis. Yeah. There's only one way to respond to that Uh, making noise and generally letting it know that you're not scared of it generally. That's the best move. So being creative in a crisis is not a good idea, but being creative in a struggle as you point out is the only way to get through it.

So they've dealt with their immediate lions facing them down. Now they've got to get creative and actually have to get to the next level.

[00:46:20] Moving from Crisis Thinking to Creative Thinking

Once you're away from that lion and you're free again the first thing you need to do is calm yourself down. The problem a lot of people have with creative thinking is they don't take that first step and companies certainly don't, you know, when companies want to go ‘now brainstorm a new idea’ They want to start brainstorming like after people have a coffee and a biscuit. Yeah. They want to start brainstorming and that's completely wrong. The brainstorm, it comes in the middle of the creative thinking process and there's a whole bunch of stuff you have to do before your mind thinks of new ideas.

And that's why great creative thinkers in history, you look back, they often went on long walks. Einstein played the violin intentionally. So one of the great practices, you know, that people and organizations can take on is number one, create a safe space around creative thinking. So if it's a person it's a little different, if it's an organization, it means really making sure that everyone feels at liberty to come up with new ideas that may not exist in a lot of companies.

I mean, five-year-olds, didn't learn how to do this. Right. They just do it.

[00:58:00] Getting Comfortable with Uncertainty

There's this incredible meme of thought going around right now that we are in a very uncertain time. So I'd like to disabuse people of this idea that we're iin an uncertain time, right? This time right now is no more certain or uncertain than any other time. We like to say that nine-11 was uncertain, 2008 was uncertain. And now is the more uncertain time, the only thing that's uncertain is people, like the time is not uncertain.

There's no certainty or uncertainty in the world. Like, if I look at a tree, it's a tree, but show me where there's uncertainty, you can't see it. It's not there. So what's really important for people to realize is what's out there that we're dealing with is not uncertainty, it's in us that there's uncertainty.

And there's a collective agreement around the idea that right now we are all uncertain. It doesn't mean that the times we live in are uncertain. And the critical thing about that is that uncertainty gives us a lot of discomfort. We don't like it.

It's unsafe it's it feels bad. But they did a study on cancer patients. Cancer patients were happier to know the results of their test. So every 100% of them were given bad results. And yet their anxiety levels and their upset levels were far higher right before they got the results than after they got the results. It gives people comfort to be certain about bad things, more than being uncertain. So the simplest thing we can do is to start to accept that we have feelings of uncertainty and it's okay.

[01:05:17] Strengths Based Innovation

I mean, you know, when BIC, when BIC was first created it only made pens for probably almost three decades, that's all they did. And they hit a point in their history where they weren't expanding anymore. Their expansion was based on geography They spread from France to everywhere in the world. And the way they expanded, if you look at what they are now, you know, what does BIC make now? they make lighters and razors. how did they get to lighters and razors?

Originally when they started, they sold expensive pens and stuff, but at some point they realized that this plastic disposable cheap pen was the way to make a good business and that's all they sold. So when they shifted to the new things, it was plastic, disposable, cheap things. So they didn't think out of the box, they just made the box bigger.

Most of the great innovative companies, that's how they work. Look at Apple. They didn't invent anything.

[01:12:33] The Kindness Contagion

And so (The Human Innovation Project) and I contacted a couple of musicians that I know in South Africa, I used to do a music show so I know a lot of musicians and we started making this song (The Kindness Contagion).

And yeah, it really blew up. So we've got almost 30 African artists in the song in the process of being recorded. A couple of the biggest producers in Africa are producing it. You can find out all about the song, which will be released on Africa day, which is the 25th of May. And if you don't know what Africa day is, you should find out that too but the song itself will be at kindnesscontagion.africa, which is the website you can go to.

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