Cultivating a Culture of Creativity and Innovation: Learning from Jazz Improvisation: Frank Barrett

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Cultivating a Culture of Creativity and Innovation: Learning from Jazz Improvisation: Frank Barrett

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Presentation by Prof. Frank Barett during the 8th editon of Vlerick HR-day 2011.

Presentation by Prof. Frank Barett during the 8th editon of Vlerick HR-day 2011.

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  • 1. 9-6-2011 Frank J. Barrett, PhD Professor of Management Naval Postgraduate School Monterey, CA 93940 fbarrett@nps.eduAre learning and performancecompatible goals? Is it possible to engage in experimentation and learning while simultaneously seeking reliable performance? Leading and collaborating when you’re facing the unknown 1
  • 2. 9-6-2011Jazz Band as Prototype forCollaborationHow can we create conditions that support collaborative achievements?How can we maximize learning through doing?Learning, “Intelligence,”Creativity, and Identity§ John Dewey’s definition of learning: the capacity to imagine new possibilities, the capacity to generate novel responses to familiar stimuli§ Discovering who we are by discovering how we behave in unfamiliar situations 2
  • 3. 9-6-2011Improvisation: Living on the Edge of the unknown§ Self organizing system§ Dynamic tension between chaos and order§ Strategy and implementation are simultaneous§ Devoted to continual re-inquiry§ Openness to novelty: ongoing quest to discover best alternatives§ Small, positive actions have large consequences§ Agile and adaptable organizationCollective Intelligence in action Large, loosely organized groups of people can work together in effective ways. No centralized control Google Wikipedia Unbuilding the World Trade Center How is this possible? 3
  • 4. 9-6-2011Groups and Extremism Going to Extremes – “When people find themselves in groups of like-minded types, they are especially likely to move to extremes.” Members of a deliberating group usually end up at a more extreme position in the same general direction as their inclinations before deliberation began. Separation creates polarizationJazz Jams – overcoming extremism Overcoming Group Polarization: “hanging out” in diverse groups. Jam sessions common space where different types of people can mingle Sensitivity to other members Equality of distribution in conversational turn-taking High diversity Architecture of serendipity 4
  • 5. 9-6-2011Who can improvise?Language as a prototypePlanning and learning 5
  • 6. 9-6-20118 Guiding Principles ofJazz Improvisation1. Art of unlearning habits: overcoming trap of success2. Appreciative mindset: say “yes” to the mess3. Full-bodied immersion4. Minimal consensus and minimal structures that allow maximum autonomy5. Embracing errors as a source of learning and discovery6. Provocative competence: incremental disruptions7. Alternating between soloing and supporting8. Striking a groove: dynamic synchronization1. Master the Art of “Unlearning”§ Create opportunities to surprise yourself§ Develop routines and abandon them§ Be suspicious of patterns§ “If it sounds clean and slick, I’ve been doing it too long.”§ Throw yourself into the terror 6
  • 7. 9-6-2011Two improvisers 7
  • 8. 9-6-2011 “I’m attracted to improvisation because of something I value. That is a freshness, a certain quality, which can only be obtained by improvisation, something you cannot possibly get from writing. It is something to do with the “edge.” Always being on the brink of the unknown and being prepared for the leap. And when you go out there you have all your years of preparation and all your sensibilities and your prepared means but it is a leap into the unknown.” –Saxophonist Steve LacyKeith Jarrett – interrupting habits "I realized that I had little formulas I would use, little vamps, and I wanted to break out of it. So I started practicing, simulating solo concerts, and if I heard myself fall into those patterns, I would stop. . . .Im not playing what I like, Im playing what my fingers want to play." 16 8
  • 9. 9-6-2011Deliberate abandonment of routines “If I knew how a project was going to turn out, I wouldn’t do it.” Architect Frank Gehry (quoted in Boland and Collopy)2. Appreciative Mindset and Engagement:Say “Yes” to the Mess§ Whatever has happened or is happening has positive potential for innovation§ Attend closely to what is happening and jump in§ Every act, every utterance, has affirmative potential. Any material can be embellished in a positive direction. 9
  • 10. 9-6-2011Appreciative Mindset:A New Frame for Leaders“The most important job of a leader is to maximize peoples’ strengths so that their weaknesses become irrelevant.” Peter DruckerAppreciative Mindset: Amplify Positive DevianceWe have the materials right here and right now. 10
  • 11. 9-6-20113. Full-bodied immersion: learning as adoing§ Intense involvement of mind, body, emotions, intuition (not just cognitive endeavor).§ Openness to the immediacy of wondernment§ Risk as part of learning§ Pragmatic view of action –Intention is emergent in dynamic process of means, ends, and context. 11
  • 12. 9-6-2011“Learning should be a joyful process.” 12
  • 13. 9-6-2011 Minimal Structure and Maximum4.Autonomy§ Limited structures and tacit rules that coordinate action through time.§ Impersonal, minimal constraints that invite embellishment and transformation.§ These rules themselves can become the targets of transformation (even while they provide orientation).Minimal structure:Guided Autonomy§ Give people lots of freedom to experiment and respond to hunches.§ Assume when people disagree that they’re both right.§ Tolerate and encourage dissent and debate. 13
  • 14. 9-6-20115. Embrace Errorsas a Source ofLearning and Discovery§ Risky, explorative actions are expected to produce the unexpected, including errors.§ Errors are incorporated as part of the ongoing action.§ Potential to be integrated into new pattern of activity.§ Repeat it, amplify it, develop it further.§ Aesthetic of forgiveness for “noble” effortsErrors as Source of Learning“When we have a failure, we…learn from it. We take this error and see what new information it can generate. It helps us see in new ways.” Safety manager at Boeing 14
  • 15. 9-6-2011Psychological safety and learning cultures§ Nursing units with BETTER leadership and coworker relationships reported MORE errors (25 vs 1000 patient days).§ WHY?Mistakes were not held against them, were so important that they had to TALK about them and LEARN from them. Amy Edmonson, Harvard University 15
  • 16. 9-6-20116. Provocative Competence§ Explore and monitor the perimeter of comfort and the edge of the unknown.§ Create incremental disruptions that dislodge habit and demand openness to what unfolds.§ Nurture an affirmative image of what’s possible.§ Create situations that demand action: passivity is not an option.§ Open and support alternative pathways. 16
  • 17. 9-6-2011Provocative Competence: “Tweaking”Cultural Inertia§ British Air§ Navy rescue drill§ Sony7. Alternate BetweenSoloing and Comping§ Take turns: make the other happen§ “Comping” = Accompanying§ Provide a “holding environment” that supports the unfolding of others’ ideas and actions§ Give one another room to experiment, to develop themes§ Attentive listening enables exceptional performance 17
  • 18. 9-6-20118. Striking a Groove:Dynamic Synchronization § Appreciative attunement to others § Continual attempts to shape one’s creations to what one has heard and is hearing § Negotiating a shared sense of the beat § Expressions of connection and ecstasy: sailing, gliding, grooving § Expressions of receptivity, openness, fluid connection § Renewed sense of hopeCollective Intelligence in action Large, loosely organized groups of people can work together in effective ways. No centralized control Google Wikipedia Unbuilding the World Trade Center How is this possible? 18
  • 19. 9-6-2011Groups and Extremism Going to Extremes – “When people find themselves in groups of like-minded types, they are especially likely to move to extremes.” Members of a deliberating group usually end up at a more extreme position in the same general direction as their inclinations before deliberation began. Separation creates polarizationJazz Jams – overcoming extremism Overcoming Group Polarization: “hanging out” in diverse groups. Jam sessions common space where different types of people can mingle Sensitivity to other members Equality of distribution in conversational turn-taking High diversity Architecture of serendipity 19
  • 20. 9-6-2011Designing for learning What can you personally start doing back in your unit to design a learning context for others? Pick an opportunity within your control or influence and brainstorm ways you can create a culture that enhances learning potential.Myths about innovationMyth: invention comes from individual geniusMyth: innovation involves creating from scratch. 20
  • 21. 9-6-2011The art of improvisation teaches usthat:It’s more important to build from existing ideas rather than try to invent new onesAppreciation and Innovation Seeing potential in existing practices and ideas is an affirmative move 21
  • 22. 9-6-2011Innovators don’t break from the past; they connect and reconnect different worlds: Build new worlds from best parts of old ones• Shift from invention to inventive recombinationPower of periphery -- be in a position to see how benefits from one world might benefit another world 22
  • 23. 9-6-2011Implications Enhance learning by choosing good comparisons. Helps to overcome cultural inertia and competency traps.Implications Create psychological safety and drive out fear. Encourage people to TALK about and LEARN from mistakes. 23
  • 24. 9-6-2011Implications Come with a beginner’s mind: don’t pretend that you have the answer.Implications Cultivate an appreciative mindset: fully expect that in every situation, no matter how dire, there is some positive opportunity. 24
  • 25. 9-6-2011Implications Ask provocative questions. Break a routine deliberately. Throw people in over their heads upon occasion.Implications When possible, don’t over rely on outside experts. Let people discover, on their own, better ways of doing things. 25
  • 26. 9-6-2011Implications Create a context in which people can experiment with new behaviors.Implications Create a mindset of inquiry: give people a chance to “think out loud” together. Encourage dissent and debate. 26
  • 27. 9-6-2011Implications Model “comping” – good followership – by supporting the others’ ideas and helping them shine.Implications Remind people about the skills and talents of their co- workers; this will encourage them to experiment. 27
  • 28. 9-6-2011Implications Help the group to identify, analyze, and amplify positive deviance. 28