Holistic Innovation

Meaningful innovation breakthroughs for customers are often paralleled by inner-journey breakthroughs by the innovators. This inner-journey happens at an individual level and an organizational level. It materializes at the customer level. This is what I call “holistic innovation.” The 4 elements of organizational culture essential for holistic innovation include: Service and Purpose for the Greater Good; Collaboration; Inclusion; Learning Culture

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Laura Carmichael
It’s International Women’s Day!

As women, we have at this moment perhaps more opportunity than ever to improve and shape the world in profound ways. Here are some of my thoughts on how I’ve been working on that myself by cultivating a “Strong Back, Soft Front” and showing my true colors.

I’d propose that it’s essential to work on our self-awareness at the same time that we work on big systems level problems and opportunities.

While we train rigorously in technical subjects, we can train ourselves to have a creative vision for how to apply them to improve the world. Influencing others to follow these new ideas can happen when we learn to communicate with a “wild heart,” a body that knows how to be present, and a clear and vibrant voice. There are lots of tools to help us do that...

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Laura Carmichael
Got an idea you've been sitting on?

Daring to tell stories that spring out of our longing, injustices and deeper truths inevitably put us on the edge where we start to envision a different future, rather than just coping with "the way things are."

As #MeToo showed over the past three months, there is immense power in telling the stories that everyone is sitting on. As Selma Hayek writes in the New York Times, “…as women (we) have been devalued artistically to an indecent state, to the point where the film industry stopped making an effort to find out what female audiences wanted to see and what  stories we wanted to tell.” 

As you set goals for 2018 what if you consider what you can do to get going on an idea you’ve been sitting on?

When we tell our stories, our true, heart stories, we can connect. Once we connect, we can organize.

Rather than continuing down the conventional path of goal planning from external forces (what will others think or value, what will bring status), what happens if you approach your “goals” from the place of telling the story that YOU feel needs to be told, isn’t told, or hasn’t been told? This is regardless of gender, this is about trusting our insights and longings, and changing the world in ways that are desperately needed.

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One thing you can do to be more creative today

To get into a creative mindset or be innovative, do something active, not just think and spin about your situation. If it’s in the spirit of play, all the better.

In the following exercise we restate judgments as neutral questions or statements and then generate multiple versions of our story about how things are and why. It’s a series of prompts to take you into a creative improv exercise, which will almost assuredly make you laugh and get you unstuck.

 

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Is Your Inner Critic Killing Your Original Thinking?

Ironically, the more successful we are in a given area, the harder it can become to take risks that are necessary for creative progress. Why would we pursue risks that entail possible failure, shame and vulnerability? If we operate in a win-or-lose paradigm, and especially if we believe the hype, it’s hard to take risks that are truly experimental...

We can learn to work skillfully with the monkey mind; otherwise we risk missing the chance to be creative and make our unique contribution.

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Laura Carmichael
Creativity Has Nothing to do With Being Artistic

As the creative mindset gets familiar, you will discover that it’s a natural part of you. You need your creativity to find new solutions to any kind of problem, in any kind of business, whether it’s building a bridge, managing a team, or installing a boiler system. The more we reclaim our creativity, the more likely we will thrive personally and make our organizations more engaging.

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Laura Carmichael
Give a Dog a Bone

To tap the creative mindset and get to truly new territory, you’ll often get the best mileage when you deliberately put yourself in the path of the unfamiliar. This is why so many people love traveling, but you can do it in your familiar environment. In fact, here is where is may count the most. 

A sign that we are stuck? We can only come up with one interpretation of a situation, a person, or information, and we are holding on to it like a dog on a bone.

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Laura Carmichael
Disrupting assumptions with everyday presence

Though presence is something performers and artists spend hours practicing and refining, anyone can learn it. Mindfulness and awareness arise out of it.

In relation to the creative mindset, everyday presence comes from being unified with the situation, from dropping our stories and having a moment of equanimity and true openness, not needing to control things. Out of this presence, spontaneous ideas arise, insight and intuition.

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Laura Carmichael
Two Qualities of Listening

Consciously shifting between inner and outer awareness is endlessly fascinating and often a lot of fun. You can practice shifting your focus from listen to the environment, back again to your internal dialogue. You'll never be bored standing in line in the airport again.

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Laura Carmichael
Is that how you got your name? Seriously?

This 1991 talk by John Cleese still hits the nail on the head for me in describing the conditions that foster creativity: what is needed, what can get in the way, what it is and isn’t. Cleese says something pivotal, namely that “Creativity is not a talent. It is a way of operating… an ability to play.” He goes on to explain, “Creativity is not an ability that you either have or do not have.” Cleese also cites historical psychological and biological research on creativity, and offers a stab at a research-based model for creativity-- and cites why it’s difficult to make a model.

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Laura Carmichael
Kindness Through Creativity - guest blog for the Montessori Notebook

Maybe it seems like a big leap to suggest that passive entertainment and lack of kindness are somehow related, but Simone’s recent post on Starting A Revolution of Kindness inspired me to reflect on this.

When people become insensitive, they can’t be kind. Passive entertainment makes us numb, and when we are numb we become insensitive. As sociologist Brene Brown writes, “You cannot selectively numb emotions.” That numbness leaves us feeling more isolated, disheartened, even hopeless or aggressive. Not on the kind end of the continuum.

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Laura Carmichael