I recalled an article by Ingar Skaug, the board chairman of the Center for Creative Leadership when he wrote this, back in 2007. It has, for different reasons, kept in my mind and I have just come across it again by accident. Just a couple of comments stand out for me, following the riots in the UK, and as we then go through a very critical self-examination period that might be worth mentioning.
He argues turbulence can (eventually) be a possitive force if we stay open to the possibilities. He suggests we need “seeing with new eyes”.
He goes on and states “it is tempting to try and cope with change and turbulence by imposing order, rules and new boundaries. But imposing structure can cost us dearly by stifling creative problem-solving. A more positive way to adapt to change is to innovate- coming up with new approaches and heading off in new directions”
He was talking more on business when he wrote this but I do feel these remarks struck me as relevant for this moment of time. We need to re-establish order after the riots but we have to balance this. If we impose too much we do drive resentments even deeper, we do stop the ability to engage, listen and reflect across the full community to learn and gain a different insight than we clearly had of one part of society. Imposing law and order is essential but we do need to quickly more onto tackling the more profound problems that lie in society and encourage more innovative ways to tackle them.
In innovation one of the first things you do is scan. We scan to try to spot new, really exciting possibilities- those creative solutions that in this case work for their society but are presently working somewhere at present, operating in isolated pockets. We need to evaluate these quickly to see if they can be scaled quickly to begin these moves into new directions that Mr. Skaug speaks off.
We do need to allow innovation and creative problem solving plenty of opportunity, even when we are highly tempted to impose. We need to allow quick and effective experimental time and then when proven be ready to widen these concepts out. Especially if they can reduce the turbulence and tensions that is always lurking in societal challenges but we can’t cut off funding mid way through. It is often a fine line but we have to give space to innovation to take hold.
Many of these do not have to wait for commissions, reports, long discussions, but we simply allow and encourage novel solutions to be quickly turned into more robust ones, that then can be scaled up quickly to meet a greater societies needs for fresh solutions. Ones that take us in new better directions.