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In this latest interview in the creativity in business thought leader series, Michelle James talks with Dr. Stan Gryskiewicz.

My third interview in the Creativity in Business Thought Leader series is with an international authority in leadership, creativity, innovation and change management, Dr. Stan Gryskiewicz.

Dr. Gryskiewicz is the author of Positive Turbulence: Developing Climates for Creativity, Innovation and Renewal; Senior Fellow at the Center for Creative Leadership; and founder and CEO of the pioneering 30-year learning community, Association for Managers of Innovation.

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

Gryskiewicz: It is the emergence of learning communities – shared learning – to supplement the technology revolution with real experiences that can be constantly questioned and modified in real time by motivated learners. Learning communities give you an opportunity to have your idea explored and tested, and receive real-time feedback you can then use to enhance, modify or completely change your idea. They allow you to reach beyond the silo of your own thinking, department, company or discipline. You can develop learning communities within one organization or across companies and disciplines. The more diverse perspectives in the learning community, the better.

Q: What is the role of creativity and innovation in this new paradigm?

Gryskiewicz: Creativity is a novel and useful idea. Innovation the successful implementation of that novel and useful idea, ususally addressing a problem to be solved. In the new paradigm, we all need a willingness to explore novel ideas and perspectives using complex problem solving and innovation. Establishment of trust is key, especially since much of the work will be done long distance by autonomous teams or individuals. There is no short cut to developing trust – this happens working through problems together over time. There are initial conditions you can set for developing trust more quickly, but it is working together over time that creates and reinforces that your colleagues know what they are doing and are supportive of you – this reinforces the trust conducive for ongoing creativity and innovation.

Q: What techniques or approaches can people start applying today to bring more creativity into their work or their business organization?

Gryskiewicz: First, defer judgment – generate ideas before you evaluate them. “Diverge” into exploration and idea generation before you “converge” into evaluation. And second, step back from the problem as given and offer redefinitions of the original problem before you start to solve it. This is not easy to do for the problem owner, but redefining the problem opens up new perspective in approaching it  that he or she you would not have otherwise seen. In exploring the definition of the problem itself, you discover other perspectives, too. This discovery leads to not only more innovative solutions to the problem, but more complex problem solving; you may in fact end up solving multiple issues that you have not thought about.

Q: As a pioneer and leader in applied creativity and innovation for over 35 years, what have you learned about creative leaders?

Gryskiewicz: A creative leader communicates a vision for change by focusing resources in a collective process that requires interdependent decision-making. Creative leaders must set clear goals, and then allow their team members freedom in deciding how to best achieve then – knowing that they share a common vision. Once this has begun, the creative leader encourages the collective to take the risks required to perform outside the norm when required to achieve the vision.

You can reach Stan Gryskiewicz at the Positive Turbulence website and visit his learning community website here. He will be a presenter at the upcoming Creativity in Business conference in Washington, DC, USA on October 4, 2009.

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