Creativity is more important than ever, considering today’s accelerating rate of change in business, says author and expert Marci Segal in this latest Creativity in Business interview. In fact, it’s an essential change management tool for effective leaders.

Interview # 13 in the Creativity in Business Thought Leader Series is with Marci Segal, MS, CIW-Col author, speaker, consultant and CEO of Creativity Land, Inc., a business creativity and innovation company. Marci is Canada’s first accredited Creativity Specialist with a Masters Degree from the International Center for Studies in Creativity in New York. She wrote Creativity and Personality Type: Tools for Understanding and Inspiring the Many Voices of CreativityQuick Guide to the Four Temperaments and Creativity: A Psychological Understanding of Innovation, and contributed to The 16 Personality Types in Organizations to help dispel this old thinking to bridge to the new work paradigm.

Marci co-founded World Creativity and Innovation Week – held annually on April 15-21 – nine years ago to encourage and engage people all over the world to use their creativity to make the world a better place and to make their place in the world better too – and do no harm. Now people in over 100 businesses, schools and communities in more than 40 countries celebrate this holiday.

She sits on the board of the American Creativity Association, is an active member of the Creative Education Foundation and recipient of their prestigious Commitment and Service, Distinguished Leader and Inspired Creativity Leader Awards. She also received the Excellence in Innovation Award, India Innovation Summit among others. Marci has been in the creativity business since 1984, with a main focus on leadership enhancement and serving the greater good.

Q: How does your work relate to creativity?

Segal: My work is all about creativity – enlivening the spirit, debunking myths – making the power of creative imagination, new ideas and new decisions easily accessible to people so they can make a difference in their work and lives.

Creativity drives the innovation engine, and that involves acknowledging the importance of integrating the human-animal spirit, into the mix. Strategies and language for encouraging contributions are interwoven into modeling behaviors that support people being at their best. Integrated into the work are my interests in futures thinking, psychological type, needs based conversations, and leadership enhancement.

Q: What do you see as the new paradigm of work?

Segal: The new paradigm of work is nimble, empathic and resilient – at least that’s the paradigm we’re entering. Also, we’re experiencing reorganizations due to shifts in economic, environmental, social, political and technological change in greater frequencies in organizations of all sorts. To avoid the panic and retain assuredness in planning for the future as it is created and as it unfolds, organizations are factoring the importance of interconnectivity into their decision making as well as network collaboration and relationship management of all sorts.

Relationship management is fast becoming a new leadership competency for the purpose of leveraging disciplinary synergies; these are adaptively replacing single silo orientations to business, education and healthcare as well as communications among individuals, suppliers, customers, employees, etc.

Q: What do you see the role of creativity in that paradigm?

Segal: In the innovation age the focus is on producing, doing more with less, considering others and the ecology of the planet where, in earlier years, our worldview was close to the opposite. In the West, citizens had been encouraged to consume more so than produce. New ideas and new decisions were considered bad form, inappropriate, challenging authority, bad manners. As a result, creativity has been laying dormant for generations. New and different ideas and decisions are sought moving forward. Creativity plays a major role in helping to shift mindsets away from, “They will provide the answer” to “I wonder how we can create something new.”

Q: What attitudes and behaviors do you see as essential for effectively navigating the new work paradigm?

Segal: First, An attitude that everyone has creative capacity and expresses it uniquely; it’s time to leave behind the notion about who has it and who does not, or that creativity belongs to the arts alone. We have progressed far beyond that way of thinking in the field and it would be nice for the mainstream to catch up with the creativity discipline (and/or for the discipline to help deliver the message to the mainstream)

Secondly, an attitude that each person can contribute to designing new outcomes and plays a role in creating a better future for the organization, society, etc.

Finally, an attitude that the new economics are built upon newer versions of the old models and a behavior that involves measures of the human spirit to define success. (See Ackerloff and Shiller’s Animal Spirits, Rifkin’s The Empathic Civilization and Aneilski’s The Economics of Happiness.)

  1. All of the bahaviors naturally associated with creative thinking and building a climate for innovation, including celebrating World Creativity and Innovation Week each year.

Q: What is one technique you recommend for effectively navigating the new work paradigm?

Segal: In the new paradigm, leaders will require ideas and other inputs from their people in even greater frequencies than they do now; that quality will be listed among their relationship management competencies moving forward.

Many executives ask me how to get the best thinking from their people and here’s my favorite technique. It’s called the Angel’s Advocate. The Angel’s Advocate is an approach focused on how to receive new ideas in ways that affirms the contribution and the contributor simultaneously. The way a new idea is received sends a message regarding a leader’s openness to new ideas: criticize it immediately, and generally, the idea giver feels uninvited to contribute more. The Angel’s Advocate provides language to work with new ideas (even if the leader doesn’t like them) in a way that encourages the idea giver to continue to engage.

Upon hearing a new idea, the leader says three things he/she likes about it, striving to find three qualities that demonstrate some value in the contribution. This affirms both the suggestion and the individual who gave it. The next stage is to list concerns; that is, the leader articulates some challenges with the suggestion. Third, the leader asks how one of the challenges might be overcome and requests the individual or team to find ways to eliminate that obstacle.

The Angel’s Advocate, when practiced, sends the message that new ideas are welcome, it helps develop the new thinking of of all and instills a simple behavior that reinforces the importance of engagement.

Q: Finally, what is creative leadership to you?

Segal: Briefly, holding a firm vision of the future that needs to be created that benefits the well being of the planet and its inhabitants, and behaving in ways to help that future to emerge.

You can reach Marci at Creativity Land, Inc. and visit the World Creativity and Innovation Week (April 15-21) website here. The Creativity in Business Thought Leader Interview Series is developed and conducted by business creativity catalyst Michelle James, CEO of The Center for Creative Emergence.