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It’s funny how things go in circles:

– my blog on ‘Elevator pitch‘ kickstarted a thread in TU812 course cafe forum about introducing new things into an organisation.  Another student commented there about the cultural receptiveness to change.

– my blog on ‘Change‘ kickstarted a thread in Systems Place about innovation.

These two threads reminded me of something I covered in B822 Creativity, Innovation and Change. I just re-found it and strangely enough it is called “A systems perspective on creativity” and is authored by – the hardest ever name to remember for an exam – Mihaly Csikszenmihalyi*.  Of course, at the time the title meant very little to me but I have always remembered the argument of the chapter.

The chapter is about the fact that creativity is not the product of individuals and their psychology, but of social systems which make judgments about the ‘acceptability’ of what an individual tries to introduce.

It is hard to explain without just re-typing the chapter but I’ll give it a go.

An individual will learn a set of rules and practices from the cultural domain around them.  They may want to introduce a novel variation in that domain.  But that will only happen if the social field (i.e. other people) accept it and agree it should be part of the domain.  The likelihood of acceptance will increase if you have the right personal qualities or if you are well positioned.

Obviously a very short truncation of a 17 page chapter.

So, I know the rules and practices of the culture of my organisation but because of my connection to a community of systems practitioners, I want to introduce variation into my organisation.  The likelihood of me being able to do that depends on the receptiveness of other people, the culture and my position.

Mmm that’s strange, it is sounding increasingly like the idea of cultural feasibility?  Did Checkland read Csikszenmihalyi or the other way round?

*Csikszenmihalyi, M (2001) ‘A Systems Perspective on Creativity’ in Henry, J (ed) (2001) “Creative Management”, Open University/Sage Publications, Milton Keynes/London.

It is an edited abstract from Chapter in R Sternberg (1999) Handbook of creativity, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

A Google search led to me to  a guest blog and  slide presentation containing similiar material at Pure Process


One Response

  1. #1
    David Robinson 

    Thanks again Helen, interesting read. Reminds me of a story I heard about a bucket full of frogs! When one frog tries to make an escape for freedon, the other join together to pull that one frog back into the pack. Seems like sometimes we are in that trap – of the cultural bucket of frogs!

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