Tag Archives: Disney Animation

Monday Morning Moment – Creativity in Community – the Skill of the Future

Blog - Creativity - creativeskillsforlifePhoto Credit: Creative Skills for Life

When you hear the word “creatives”, you might immediately think of 20- or 30-somethings. They are classed as young “color-outside-the-lines” right-brain “think-outside-the-box” sorts of folks…who sometimes make the rest of us nuts. You might think of the artists, writers, and musicians out there. However, in truth, creatives include all those people who solves problems, including the ones who set up problems and then solve them. They are the inventors, the entrepreneurs, the designers, the planners who have the capacity to make our lives better…to even make the world better.

Hanneke Siebelink (of LeadershipWatch) just wrote a piece on the top skills of the future. She pointed to a graphic from the World Economic Forum which showed, over the course of 5 years, how creativity will jump from #10 to #3 in a Top 10 Skills List.Blog - Creativity - weforumPhoto Credit: WEForum.org

What does that sort of creativity entail? Is creativity alone enough?

Richard Florida wrote extensively on this in his book The Rise of the Creative Class. He defines the Creative Class as “people in science and engineering, architecture and design, education, arts, music and entertainment whose economic function is to create new ideas, new technology, and new creative content.”Business Insider

Writer Jeff Goins also defines “creatives”:

A creative is an artist. Not just a painter or musician or writer. She is someone who sees the world a little differently than others.

A creative is an individual. He is unique, someone who doesn’t quite fit into any box. Some think of creatives as iconoclasts; others see them as rebels. Both are quite apt.

A creative is a thought leader. He influences people not necessarily through personality but through his innate gifts and talents.

As fascinating as Florida’s writing is, I disagree with his premise that creatives are their own class of people, because I believe it’s within any of us to develop our capacity for creativity. Those of us who might be suspect of Florida’s promotion of the Creative Class would do well to read the critiques of his thinking (this and also this are excellent).

When people in our communities or workplaces class themselves as distinctively creative, they tend to operate in a tribal fashion. These tribes may even be quite diverse, but too often, I believe, they operate to satisfy their own needs and desires rather than that of the larger workplace or community. Thus in the workplace, decision-making is made by the few like-minded thinkers, that tribe of influential creatives. And communities? Where such a population of creative, expansive thinkers could enhance the appeal and value of a neighborhood, too often, , and communities can steer in the direction of gentrification, becoming less inclusive, making housing less accessible even for those who were there before.

Blog - Creativity & Community Leadership - azquotesPhoto Credit: AZQuotes

My bias in how creatives work best is in community – not just a tribe of creatives, but in a community of folks with other giftings,  other strengths,and other history.

However, all that being said, I do love the increasing view that creatives add value to any enterprise. My husband, for many years, was a research chemist who developed new products and was awarded several patents for his company. Even today, outside the chemical industry, he continues to be creative in thinking through new pathways toward solving problems, getting to goal, and developing personnel.

Even Florida in his revised and updated book recommends a compact dealing with creatives. His first (of 6 principles) is: Invest in Developing the Full Human Potential and Creative Capabilities of Every Single Human Being. It’s somewhat grandiose but it’s a worthy goal. Having this principle in play would promote a workforce where employees are encouraged to always be thinking and engaged in both today’s work and what changes must be made for the future.

Along these same lines, I love Howard Gardner’s Five Minds for the Future:Blog - Creativity - slidesharePhoto Credit: Slideshare

As creatives are sought after more and more in our workplaces (om both private and public sectors), I hope we also encourage them to build strengths in other areas of their thinking (or mindfulness). For those colleagues of ours who might not consider themselves creative, we need to communicate across organizations as to their value as well. This would include our creatives to gain from what other bring to the table.

I would like to think that I’m a creative…in ways, maybe, born out of time. Early on in my career, I had the privilege of working as a team with other colleagues in developing and implementing cancer care in a small town in the Southeast. It was thrilling for me to be part of such an innovative and comprehensive system of care where we could actually plan and dream for the future.

Three of us, in particular, worked as creatives in community. I was a content specialist and idea person. Kay was the nurse manager who brought vision and authority to the task. Kathy was a clinician with steely resolve and the determination to take the ideas to completion. We were a force to be reckoned with…just saying.

We all have different giftings and strengths. My influence was helpful but Kay’s authority settled matters. My ideas were large and lofty (sometimes), and Kathy’s keenness for how to make those ideas work were what brought them into reality.

That’s how creatives work in community. I think of top skills for the future that “in community” piece would be essential for creatives who want to make a lasting difference…not just for their own purposes at work but for the benefit of the larger community.

A hugely successful example of this is the work culture and philosophy of Pixar & Disney Animation which I wrote about here.

Daan Roosegaarde in Siebelink’s article talks about creativity in community: There are two ways to turn an idea into reality. You can play bowling, or you can play ping pong. The old way, at least that is what I think, is bowling. You have that ball in your hand and it’s so big, it is so heavy, it shines so beautifully. Then you throw that bowling ball and pray it will hit target.

I no longer believe this is a good way to create and innovate. I believe in playing ping pong: you take a tiny little ball, not expensive, and there you go: poek poek poek poek … and you create something together. And THAT is nice, this is how I create, this is how I learn.”

Bring on these kinds of creatives any day!

Skills of the Future: The Best Expert Advice on Creativity

The Rise of the Creative Class — Revisited (Revised and Expanded) by Richard Florida

The Creative Compact – Richard Florida – Huffington Post

Creativity – the Unique Soft Skill – Slideshare

6 Ways to Make Your Leadership and Workplace Fun Again

Creativity, Inc. – Overcoming the Unseen Forces that Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull

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Creativity, Inc. – Ed Catmull’s Story of Pixar, Working with Creatives, & Steve Jobs

untitledIMG_0223Photo Credit: Amazon.com (l) & Deb Mills (r)

Dave, the husband in my story, has always pointed me in the direction of transformative books and learning experiences. That path converged with this year’s Global Leadership Summit and Ed Catmull’s Creativity, Inc.

Bill Hybels interviewed Ed Catmull about his role in co-founding Pixar Animation Studios and pioneering the field of computer animation. Now President of Pixar Animation and Disney Animation, he has an extraordinary story to tell of leading creatives in innovative film-making. Mr. Catmull’s wisdom and humility can be well-applied in any workplace situation.Blog - GLobal Leadership Summit - Ed Catmull by brainpickings.orgPhoto Credit: brainpickings.org

“Science and art are not incongruous. Art isn’t about drawing; it’s about learning to see. Which business or professions do you not want to have enhanced ability to see?”

During this interview at GLS15, he talked about the business processes he uses in film-making. We can relate this level and quality of  accountability in any organization or company:

  1. Teams working together (using a Brain Trust – a group of colleagues all acting as peers, with vested interest, giving feedback;
  2. When failures happen in production – embracing [failure] but at the same time dealing with it with both total candor and kindness; and
  3. Operating within constraints (a budget) – actually pushes creativity higher and delivers better outcomes.

“Stories influence the world. We want to use story-telling for good.”

Listening to Ed Catmull talk about leading at Pixar and Disney whetted our appetites to read his book Creativity, Inc.

Originally, Mr. Catmull worked in the computer graphics department of Lucasfilm, in the beginning years of computer animation. In his book, he tells about his incredible journey in those early years right through to today. It was a wildly bumpy road at first and the work was almost sidelined had it not been for Steve Jobs buying Pixar from Lucasfilm.

Toward the end of the book, Catmull writes about Steve Jobs. They worked together for over 25 years, and the Jobs he knew was a much more complex and lovely man than who we knew through other media. A tribute full of “candor and kindness” – as much about how Ed Catmull sees people as about the amazing leader that was Steve Jobs.

Whatever your work, you want to read this book. Catmull describes how he modeled openness, confidence in, and care for his employees. There are trust builders and wide gates for innovation woven into Pixar’s business processes. Whatever our sphere of influence is, we can all learn to be more effective leaders as we think through how Catmull leads.

At the end of Creativity, Inc., there are 5 pages of bulleted principles that Mr. Catmull encourages as starting points for critical thinking. Here are just a few:

  • If there are people in your organization who feel they are not free to suggest ideas, you lose. Do not discount ideas from unexpected sources. Inspiration can, and does, come from anywhere.
  • It’s isn’t enough merely to be open to ideas from others. Engaging the collective brainpower of the people you work with is an active, ongoing process. As a manager, you must coax ideas out of your staff and constantly push them to contribute.
  • There is nothing quite as effective, when it comes to shutting down alternative viewpoints, as being convinced you are right.
  • If there is more truth in the hallways than in meetings, you have a problem.
  • Change and uncertainty are part of life. Our job is not to resist them but to build the capability to recover when unexpected events occur. If you don’t always try to uncover what is unseen and understand its nature, you will be ill prepared to lead.

Creativity, Inc. is not just a book for whom we now consider “creatives”. It’s a book for any of us who want to employ and empower people to grow personally and in community and to produce in ways that yield great products/services.

We all have stories that can influence the world for good…if we grow a work culture where those stories matter and can be freely explored.

Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace

Global Leadership Summit – 7 Take-Aways from Day One of #GLS15

YouTube Video – Steve Jobs Remembered by Larry Ellison and Pixar’s Ed Catmull

YouTube Video – Ed Catmull: Keep Your Crises Small

Global Leadership Summit – 7 Take-Aways from Day One of #GLS15

Blog - Global Leadership Summit - thecrossingchurchnj.orgPhoto Credit: thecrossingchurchnj.org

Today I participated in the Global Leadership Summit at a satellite site near Richmond, Virginia. It was my first time, but I hope not to miss another. It is best described on the website- “a world-class experience designed to help you get better and embrace your grander vision—the reason God called you to lead. Broadcast LIVE in HD from Willow’s campus near Chicago to over 375 Premier Host Sites in North America and later around the world, you are invited to join an expected 260,000 leaders in 2015.”

7 great leaders spoke today, and 6 others will speak tomorrow. The experience was so meaningful and beneficial to me where I am currently in life, but I would recommend it to anyone whatever your situations.

Following are the briefest of 7 take-aways that are still buzzing around in my head. So much to process. Here’s a start.

Bill Hybels (founder/senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church; chairman of the Willow Creek Association which launched the Global Leadership Summit in 1995):

“Leadership is [simply] moving people from here to there.”

“Armed with enough humility we can learn from anyone.” 

Hybels reflected on Richard Davis’ book The Intangibles of Leadership – and developed his own list of 5 intangibles for leaders:Blog - Global Leadership Summit - 5 Intangibles of LeadershipPhoto Credit: jobsforlife.org

He challenged us to discover the “white-hot why” of our lives – the why of what we do – what really matters for us. For Hybels, it’s “transforming lives”. He is a living example of being faithful to that “why”.

Jim Collins (best-selling author of Good to Great):

Jim Collins talked about what he learned as the recent Chair (2012-2013) for the Study of Leadership at the United States Military Academy at West Point. He reported that: creating a culture out of which great leaders are developed must include

  1. Serving a cause we can be passionate about and for which we would be willing to suffer;
  2. Growing through difficulty; and
  3. Succeeding by helping those around us.

“We succeed at our very best only when we help others succeed. We respond to our own difficulties by reaching out and saying ‘Let me help you.’ To communicate to others: ‘You are never alone.'”

“The greatest leaders find a way to make a contribution, a distinctive impact, on people, on real-live flesh and blood people.”

Ed Catmull (Co-Founder of Pixar Animation Studios; President of Walt Disney Animation Studios; Author of Creativity, Inc.):

Catmull wanted to be an animator from the time he was a child but couldn’t see a path to follow that dream. He ended up studying physics in college.Blog - GLobal Leadership Summit - Ed Catmull by brainpickings.orgPhoto Credit: brainpickings.org

“Science and art are not incongruous. Art isn’t about drawing; it’s about learning to see. Which business or professions do you not want to have enhanced ability to see?”

He talked further about 3 processes in film-making, all relating to accountability:

  1. Teams working together (using a Brain Trust – a group of colleagues all acting as peers, with vested interest, giving feedback;
  2. When failures happen in production – embracing [failure] but at the same time dealing with it with both total candor and kindness; and
  3. Operating within constraints (a budget) – actually pushes creativity higher and delivers better outcomes.

“Stories influence the world. We want to use story-telling for good.”

Adam Grant (Professor, Wharton School of Business; Author of Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success)

Grant talked about the three kinds of persons you find in the workplace…well, anywhere really:  1) Givers, 2) Takers, and 3) Matchers. After defining each of these and how they interact with each other in the workplace (buy the book), he prescribed ways to build a work culture. A work culture of generosity – the work culture that especially develops the givers, which brings the others along as well.

His three challenges were:

  1. Keep the wrong people off the bus. Get rid of the takers.
  2. Redefine giving. [He talked about the 5-minute favor and the 100 hours of volunteering across a year – these micro-lessons of generosity.]
  3.  Encourage help-seekers. – Developing the givers will nurture a culture of “How can I be the rising tide that lifts all boats?” – a Reciprocity Ring.

Dr. Brené Brown (Research Professor, University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work; Author of Rising Strong):

“Our brain is neuro-biologically hard-wired in the instant of a [hard time; difficult conversation] to make up a story as to what happened. If we can give our brain a story when something hard happens, we are rewarded by our brain (dopamine). Our brain rewards us whether the story is accurate or not. Our worthiness as people lives inside these stories. When we pretend or deny the story, it owns us. When we own the story, we get to write the ending.”

Brene BrownPhoto Credit: TheGuardian.com

Transformational leaders: 1. Do discomfort.  2.They have absolute emotional awareness about their own life, and about the people around them.

“We can’t ignore emotion. We are emotional people who sometimes think. Emotion dictates behavior. If you speak to the way they think or their behaviors, without speaking to their emotions, they will not change. Speak to their emotions. Curiosity and lines of inquiry are the greatest tools of leaders. ‘Help me understand’. “

Sallie Krawcheck (Chair of Ellevate Network; Former President, Bank of America’s Global Wealth & Investment Management):

“The retirement savings crisis is a women’s crisis – we retire with 2/3 the retirement income as men and live 6-8 years longer than men. I love men. I’m married to a man. But you guys are going to die, and we as women will be living with this crisis.”

“My “‘white-hot why’ is advancing women, elevating women. “

“I work every day as though my children are watching me.”

Albert Tate (Founder/Senior Pastor of Fellowship Monrovia, Southern California):

Pastor Tate preached (and I mean preached) on the miracle of Jesus’ feeding of the 5000 (John 6:1-13), using the five loaves of bread and two fish brought to Him from a boy in the crowd.

Tate renounced the leadership lie of “leaving it all on the field”.

“One of the most key things we can do as leaders as to bring what we have, give it to Jesus, and then get out of the way.”

Leaders, you don’t have to go home on empty. You don’t have to leave it all on the field. Christ left it all on the Cross. Bring what you have. Whatever you have, give it back to Him. Then get out of the way, and watch in awe and wonder at what He does.”

These are just 7 take-aways of the 20 pages of notes I took during today’s Summit. Such great teaching – inspiring, empowering, mystifying, really.

Download the Global Leadership Summit app. Read what you can (in these authors’ books and via all the online resources – articles, blogs, video). Take down the dates for the Global Leadership Summit of 2016 and plan to register early.

Being the leader we hope to be is within our reach.

Post-Script: Michael Jr. was on and off stage to make us laugh and to look at life from just a bit of a different angle. Love him!

Blog - Global Leadership Summit - Michael Jr

Photo Credit: MichaelJrComedy

Global Leadership Summit – Willow Creek Association

Global Leadership Summit App