Set Fire To The Rain

Wednesday, 29 June 2011 - Lancaster, England

Creative Partnership Kevin Roberts

Presentation Summary

In this presentation to Spotlight On Lancaster at Lancaster University, Kevin Roberts talks about enabling, energizing and activating creative partnerships and achieving Vibrant, Crazy, Unreal and Astounding impact.

I’m inspired by the university’s passion to partner smart, and to deliver stronger, happier and longer living.

Tough times and hard questions demand radical shifts in how we think and how we act. Pierre Berbizier, French Rugby coach: “Don’t just do things better; do things different.”

We need to do things different. We need ideas velocity because we live in a VUCA world: Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous.

Getting ahead of VUCA is not about evolving – evolution takes centuries. It’s not about revolution; that takes 30 years.

It’s about insurrection, responding to challenge with bursts of creativity, innovation and inspiration to rip it.

The world needs surfers, people who catch waves and ride instincts through big tunnels.

We need to reframe VUCA as Vibrant, Unreal, Crazy and Astounding – seizing the moment.

And here at Lancaster with our Management School initiatives, Infolab21, Imagination@Lancaster and our Leadership programme, we’re in!!

I’m going to talk about how to enableenergize and activateyour creative partnerships, for achieving Vibrant, Crazy, Unreal and Astounding impact.

#1 Create A Flow Environment

We need to raise the creative temperature. Everything starts with a dream. Martin Luther King did not say “I have a mission statement.”

He recognized that people want to be part of something bigger than themselves, and invited them into this space.

Great change in any arena – government, business, academic or all – is about being ‘Purpose-inspired; Benefit driven’. This is to answer a priceless question people have: How will you improve my life?

  • Dreams don’t count the stars, they reach for them.
  • Dreams inspire your people and partners to expand horizons, take risks and create the future together.
  • Dreams change the language to change the conversation, to change the world. They get things moving, and they run on radical optimism.

Teams that energize productivity and creativity use FLOW, which focuses on purpose-driving activities.

Flow combines passion and harmony, enabled by wellbeing; happiness through fulfilling true potential (signature strengths, reframing, personal purpose).  

“It’s no point being brilliant at the wrong thing.”

– De Bono

Passion is emotional connection with the Dream.

This is about: 

  • Interesting, passionate people
  • Ability to make passionate choices about assignments
  • Desire to succeed
  • Desire to learn and develop new skills

Harmony of individual and shared consciousness is about:

  • Intuitive, instinctive, trusting relationships
  • Fluid flexible organization design
  • Rapid transparent communication
  • Open dialogue / regular feedback

#2 Embrace Creative Leadership

Today we live in the Age of the Idea, and the edge of everything is the unreasonable power of creativity.

The heroes of this Age are Creative Leaders. The characteristics of a Creative Leader are: Inspirational; Networked; Comfort with ambiguity and metaphor; Thinks like an artist or designer; Hands-on driven; Open system; Interactive.

Creative solutions don’t happen in silos or cubicles. Steve Jobs says: “Innovation is just connecting stuff.”

Innovation is about connecting people so that you can connect stuff. Global brands have already changed their innovation models to exponentially increase their creative mass.

  • GE is pulling in ideas from everywhere as part of its ecomagination clean energy drive.
  • More than half of P&G’s products involve major collaboration with outside partners.
  • Starbucks has harvested 98,000 ideas through and adopted 100.

It’s about connecting diversity. Take MIT, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a creative hothouse: 40% of the staff were born outside the US.

The living alumni of MIT have formed 25,800 companies generating revenue of $1.9tn a year. If MIT were a country, it would have the 11th highest national GDP in the world. As the Apple ad said, here’s to the misfits, the crazies!!

An idea can be something entirely original or a game-changing iteration, one degree different to where you are right now.

Some ideas surprise with the obvious, like scientists wielding math used in the stock market to fight AIDs.

To develop a pen that could write in space, NASA spent millions on advanced technology. The Russians used a pencil.

Some ideas reframe. Voltaren reframed from pain relief to the Joy of Movement. Apple reframed stores into irresistible wonderlands.

Creativity is fueled by discovery, not reassembly.

  • Information – Knowledge – Insight – Foresight
  • Information – Knowledge – REVELATION – Foresight

#3 Make It Happen

Invention is the product of a creative or curious mind. Innovation is something that changes the life of the customer in some way, or the world in which the customer experiences things.

Execution is the killer app, the step change from getting things done to making things happen, where excellence becomes action.

Act now and beg for forgiveness later.

Schopenhauer: “Talent hits a target no one else can hit … genius hits a target no one else can see.”

Five keys to execution:

  • Freedom within a framework, with 4 flexi walls:
    • Responsibility
    • Learning
    • Recognition
    • Joy
  • Drive the important not the urgent. Goizueta: Meet, Beat, Repeat. KR: instantaneous response.
  • Make 100 day plans. It’s as far out as you can see!!!
  • Fail fast, learn fast, fix fast.
  • Fire up a movement, because few problems can’t be solved if enough people commit. Think DOT, Do One Thing, then DAT, do another. It’s how you change the world, one action at a time.

In this Age of Now, people are always-on, but more than that, living in the moment, an intensity more exciting than the regrets of yesterday and fears of tomorrow.

And we all need to pull together.

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Spanning creativity, leadership and execution, Kevin Roberts’ presentation to the Entrepreneurs’ Organization Wellington Chapter is an inspirational primer in: Wanting to Win, Ways to Win Now and Ways to Keep Winning – the secrets of Peak Performance so that winning becomes a habit.

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