Creativity and People NOT Process

I’ve just come from 2 very interesting days of Lean Kanban thinking at the Lean Kanban Nordic Conference

Although I got many helpful insights I was left puzzled/perplexed by something and I want to share.

A guest speaker Challenged the “Stop Starting and Start Finishing” theme of the conference which I thought was great. He wanted us to realise that stopping the starting on an enterprise level will affect creativity. It was a bit “controversial” but I was really motivated by what he said.

In addition, to that we had some people who are studying Neuroscience and the Neuroscience of Flow explain to us that our brain rewards us with a seratonin rush when we start something and we like that so we must be aware of it in order to “control” it. (….”why does your brain rewards mechanism sabotage finishing stuff?”… “our brain loves working on Autopilot, … what can we do to switch it off” )

Hmmmm! … I’m no expert but this doesnt sit too well with me.

Heres why…

  • Do you think we could have evolved as human beings by shutting down this sub-consciuous/autopilot? Do you honestly believe that we evolved solely on Logical reasoning and routine? … I don’t.

So can we be better at flow thinking AND be creative?. Yes, I think so if we respect that they are 2 seperate entitles.

I watched a BBC Horizon Documentary last year about creativity.

Creative thinking happens when we break routines,when we are exposed to new things, when we train in divergent thinking and when we create space for ourselves and our Subconscious to interrupt our Prefrontal Cortex.

When we decide to do things Kanban is brilliant at helping us do that … see the flow and value BUT we must have space outside of our routines/process to think creatively.

So what has all of this to do with Management/Leadership you wonder?.

Simple: We have to stop thinking that Lean/Kanban and Agile are going to solve all our problems for us, make us more creative and innovative. They won’t. People will.

I am making an assumption here but I think this is what our Stop Starting Start finishing Challenger was trying to tell us.

How do we help people be more creative, support divergent thinking and allow them the space to gain insights in their everyday?. I think we need to snap out of this notion that Agile and Lean is the answer ….. They are excellent methods to help us organise things and see value …. but ultimately it is us as human beings who come up with ideas.

Outside of our plan and routine … we need SPACE to be creative .. and that is seperate to the methods we use for Flow and Value.

What are you doing as a leader to help create the space?