Building Sustainable Creative Culture II


“To keep a creative culture vibrant, we must not be afraid of constant uncertainty.”


Those of you who read my posts most probably remember Building Sustainable Creative Culture I, in which I have written about Ed Catmull’s leadership lessons. In the same post, I also expressed my opinion that I very much liked his words about creativity. They are like real creativity lessons, so I promised to write about them in one of my future posts. Spending some time studying and researching about strategic HRM, human and social capital development, foresight and organizational transformation, it is time to write the post which I promised to write more than a year ago. In this post, I would like to discuss Catmull’s lessons about creativity, yet this time I kindly request your ideas as a valuable input. How? We can implement the crafting experience approach widely used in design thinking. Why? Because co-writing will be more creative.

“Creativity is more like a marathon than a sprint.”


“Creativity involves missteps and imperfections.”


“The fear of judgement was hindering creativity.”


Crafting Customer Experience

In the past, the focus was on the output or on making new products that were useful or aesthetically attractive. This process usually ignored the users, or overlooked the human element in the design process. On the contrary, today’s innovations have shifted towards a more human-centered design methodology. Stated differently, the so called design thinking methodology is actually a successful human-centered design. Companies focus on exploring external users’ stories and experiences at a level that creates focused approaches to realizing the best customer experiences possible. As a result, there is a new term that is customer experience. When defined, customer experience is considering the needs of customers and the importance of unique and engaging experiences as a key to providing successful ground for continuous innovation.

“The unpredictable is the ground on which creativity occurs.”


“To have a “not know mind” is a goal of creative people.”


“The most creative people are willing to work in the shadow of uncertainty.”


Crafting Employee Experience

As we all know, employees are the internal customers, so engaging them by crafting their experience is a new and essential practice in HR or people management and development. If interested, you can read Design Thinking and Talent Management. Design thinking is a tool that helps HR to achieve a paradigm shift from focusing on building separate processes to a new and different approach. This approach is designing an engaging and productive employee experience through solutions that are humane, integrative and innovative. Design thinking provides a means to focus on employees’ experience and to create processes centered upon employees. The reason for this is the final outcome that is new HR, talent and leadership development systems which directly contribute to employees’ engagement, satisfaction, productivity and enjoyment.

“Think of a caterpillar morphing into a butterfly – it only survives because it is encased in a cocoon.”


“The impetus for innovation came from the inside rather than the outside.”


 “Limits force us to rethink how we are working and push us to new heights of creativity.”


Crafting Culture for Innovation

Our world today is characterized with multiple, multilevel and multidimensional paradigm shifts in every walk of life. This sounds too complex and demanding if we want to change, adapt and survive. Another variable to be added is the sustainability of our world, its natural resources, environment, societies and businesses. The third variable to be included in these complex equations or systems in the variable called innovation since innovation is needed to cope with change, competition and sustainability. Managing all of these is so inspiring and challenging, and it even looks impossible. Consequently, leaders nowadays have a very demanding agenda.

Let us consider only on one of the many paradigm shifts, or in other words, let us concentrate on leading for innovation. Ed Catmull is an example of an extraordinary leader who leads for innovation. He leads for innovation by building the sustainable creative culture at Pixar. Catmull’s leadership style is completely different from the other familiar leadership styles, so it has been discussed a lot. Harvard University professor Linda A. Hill and her colleagues have analyzed Pixar case in the first part of their book Collective Genius: The Art and Practice of Leading Innovation. I have just started rereading this book which I have bought couple of years ago when I also bought Catmull’s book.

I think it is useful to include some ideas from this book when discussing Ed Catmull, his creativity lessons and leading for innovation. Indeed leading for innovation is actually crafting culture for innovation. It is building sustainable creative culture as Ed Catmull has already achieved. Linda A. Hill and her colleagues summarize this under three subheadings that are:

  • Collaborating
  • Engaging in discovery-driven learning
  • Making integrative decisions

These are also so obvious in Catmull’s quotations which we are going to use for crafting your experience as readers.

“Individual creativity is magnified by the people around you.”


“We have to learn, over and over again, that the perceptions and experiences of others are vastly different than our own. In a creative environment, those differences can be assets.”


“And without trust, creative collaboration is not possible.”


Crafting Reader Experience

As I have already stated, by using the crafting experience approach the writing process of this post is completely focused on you, the readers. Why do not you think of and share your ideas and experience related with the stated quotations in this post? They are Ed Catmull’s words about creativity. Each quotation is a valuable lesson about creativity. I am sure each one of you has some ideas and experience related with creativity, so dropping a line or two will not be so difficult. Stated differently, I would like to invite you to craft this experience together, and the final outcome is going to be your contribution and satisfaction in reading, actively engaging and co-writing this post.

 “In creative endeavors, we must face the unknown. If we make room for it instead of shunning it, the unknown can bring inspiration and originality.”


“But how do we go about creating the unmade future? I believe that all we can do is foster the optimal conditions in which it – whatever “it” is – can emerge and flourish.”


“Leave the door open for the unexpected.”


Let us leave the door for the unexpected because we should trust in our collective creativity. Crafting your experience as readers, and asking your comments, and you writing some comments are going to be helpful to create this post. Even if you are reluctant to share your ideas and experience, it is still useful just to think and reflect for a while. However, if you have the courage to add some comments, your added value will be enormously enriching. Thanks in advance for your co-writing. Finally, do you agree that unleashing individual creative ideas and harnessing them in the collective genius of our human race can lift us all up to higher and higher levels of consciousness, more rapid progress and much better and happy lives?

(Posted also on LinkedIn Pulse)

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