Here's part two of my journey to Vienna to attend a workshop on Creative Leadership and Collective Intelligence, run by Robert Dilts - international trainer, speaker and NLP guru.  This article is a mixture of my notes from the workshop, my own material and material that I use as part of my work.  The bulk of the article are the notes that I took direct from Robert Dilts and I have tried to reference his referees wherever possible and I give him credit for a large portion of the ideas and content in this article - but not all of it, as my own 20 years experience of organisation development, consulting, facilitating, coaching, training and development play a role too!

Within any group there is a collective creative unconscious, according to Dilts.  This is the potential, particularly in organisations, for great creativity and innovation.  We all know that innovation is what gives us a competitive edge.  Within a group that can tap into this collective creative unconscious, group members will grow more quickly than left in the usual parameters of organisation processes such as performance management systems, feedback and personal development programmes (not that these aren't all useful - I strongly advocate them - however, to exponentially grow talent, we need something new).  Within this collective creative unconscious also lies the ability to problem solve with greater precision, clarity and speed.

In order to get ideas moving there is an optimum number of people required - this is 100.  This number is important.  You need to start exploring things quietly (if it's loud and in people's face, you're likely to get a reaction - it may not be the one you want).  If you quietly move around your organisation (or your group), canvassing opinion, gaining supporters and collaborators until you reach the magic number, you will have created a buzz about your idea.  This buzz turns into a disruption.  Think here in terms of entrepreneurism (or intrapreneurism),  Most disruptions do not come from business strategy - they are against the strategy.  A disruption is something that literally 'disrupts' the normal way of doing things.  This is where creativity leads to new innovations.  Think of major industries that have been effected by disruptions: journalism, newspapers, music, video rental, retail - to name a few.  The iPod was not part of the business strategy - it actually went against the strategy and they changed their name because of it.  This truly is generative collaboration - it's the highest expression of creativity.  Something was created that didn't exist before it came into existence.

The process of creating generative collaboration requires 3 things to be in place:

  1. Resonance: two things that vibrate at a similar frequency.  It may look completely different, but it may resonate with something that looks completely different to it.  Someone says something and you think, yeah, it's something similar.  And so we have sharing.

  2. Synergy: if you put your thing and my thing together, they are both different, but they also create something bigger (think of 2 bubbles joining - both bubbles exist in their own right, but together they have created a new, 3rd larger bubble that is different.  Through synergy we find another way to represent that bigger thing, as we may not be able to use the same words as before.  We are not limited to words - in fact words can limit us - we can have symbols or gestures or metaphor.  Linguistics will immediately limit the resonance and synergy.  Here we have an exchange.

  3. Emergence: from our interaction something new comes out that wasn't mine or your original idea.  We have created something new that neither of us had thought of before.  Here we have complementing.

In order for the creative conscious to exist, there needs to be three minds:

  1. Cognitive - our brain and intellect

  2. Somatic - our body and feelings

  3. Field - our relationship to the system

In order to tap into the field, think of using yourself as a conduit.  Something from the field comes through you and you 'ring' like a cell phone - you don't see the electromagnetic waves that carry the phone signal, in the same way that we don't see what's in the field, but it comes to us.  Therefore, we have to be open to whatever is out there in the field, allowing it to come to us.

If you've never heard of Gregory Bateson and his work on systems thinking, I can highly recommend a DVD by his daughter, Nora, called An Ecology of Mind.  It's an amazing film that will get the grey cells working overtime!  Bateson talks about us all being part of a bigger mind - he says maybe we call it god or the universe.  Think the 'field' here - enabling yourself to tap into whatever is out there in a wider sense, coming to you and you being open enough to grasp whatever it is and run with it, quietly gathering support and creating a buzz until there emerges a generative collaboration, utilising the collective intelligence of those 100 people or so that you've been quietly talking to about the idea that came to you through the field.

This is the point at which Leadership comes into play.  Leadership literally means 'to go'.  A leader needs to show direction - not necessarily an end destination.  A leader must also demonstrate different kinds of energy: energy to create the capacity to express a vision, to influence others and to achieve results and encourage team cooperation and to be an example - a role model; an exemplar.

Here's a great example of the difference in leadership between two transport disasters: the Hudson River Aircrash v the Italian Cruise Liner sinking.  The pilot of the airplane talked about leadership during that crash.  He said he was the most afraid he'd ever been and also the calmest he'd ever been - both at the same time.

He said there were four things that made a difference:

  1. Experience and practice - the pilot had years of experience and was very practiced in crash simulations

  2. 'I was the Captain - it was my job to protect people' - here we see a real demonstration of connecting to something bigger than his individual identity

  3. A field - 'the crew was calm, passengers were calm; this made it easy for me to say calm.'  Passengers said they were calm because the pilot and crew were calm.  The crew said they were calm because the captain and passengers were calm.  Here we have a resourcing field -the opposite of a fear field.

  4. Some years before his father had committed suicide and he was devastated.  As a result he made a commitment to never just be a bystander - he would always take action.  'I was so committed to saving those lives because I couldn't save my father'.  Here we have transforming a tragedy into a commitment.

As we all know, the Captain of the cruise liner disembarked before any of the passengers!  His level of ego was so strong that it quelled any sense of being committed to something bigger than himself.  His sense of self importance was so present that he put the lives of his passengers at risk.  In this case, leadership meaning 'to go' was applied literally to himself.  There was no capacity to express a vision, nor to influence others to achieve results; there was no team cooperation and he certainly wasn't an example - an exemplar of leadership.

Because there was too much ego, self importance and control, he lost the connection - the sense to serve and contribute.  Similarly if you become overly immersed in your connection and participation in something bigger than yourself, you actually start to lose yourself and your creative independence.   You begin to diminish your uniqueness, which is your biggest contribution to the group (your uniqueness).

If everybody is just like everybody else, the diversity diminishes, the number of possible perspectives diminishes and innovation diminishes.  There needs to be integration.  You need an environment and conditions that create a context of safety and openness.  There needs to be respect, plus proactivity and risk taking.  There needs to be strategy, plus energy.  There needs to be accountability plus motivate and desire.  You need to contribute but also grow.  One the one hand that gives us orientation towards connection and procreation.  On the other hand we have appropriate boundaries and also a greater sense of belonging.

If you want to discuss anything that I've written here, please get in touch:

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