What is creativity? Speech on Business Creativity by Fredrik Haren, author of "The Idea Book".



as leaders we are all faced with complex and challenging problems and we quickly realize that creativity is the critical business skill that will help us move forward Frederick Heron is one of the world's leading experts on business creativity and author of the idea book originally from Sweden and currently living in Singapore Frederick will address why creativity is more difficult than we often think and will help us learn how to become more creative as organisations and individuals please give a warm summit welcome to Frederick parent thank you very much I think we just saw a perfect example of how creativity and humor connects very well together but how about creativity and leadership of course me as an author of creativity books of course I think it's important but it doesn't really matter what I think what matters is what do you think so before I begin my talk I want to ask you a few questions I want to gauge your approach to creativity and I want you to be honest you don't have to be nice to me I want you to be honest only raise your hand if you agree to the statement then I will do my talk okay here we go question number one how many of you think that being creative is important in your job raise your hand thank you I was the easy one here comes the more interesting one question number two how many of you think you actually are creative be honest okay I was not supposed to happen alright question number three how many of you think that your company or your organization is doing enough to develop the creativity of its employees doing enough alright back to normal all right so I've asked these three questions more than 2,000 times in more than 60 different countries and every time I go there every time I go to a country every time I go to a company I asked it because I want to figure out what is what is the approach that leaders have to creativity so let's see how you're compared to other groups first question is creativity important in your job yes everyone says yes I knew you were gonna say yes everyone always says yes even accountants say yes I don't know why I was funny so I knew we're gonna say the interesting one is the second question do you think you are creative in this room it was almost everyone but this is because we are right now happened it happened to be in North America but this is being broadcast to all over the world and if this was a truly global group it would be less than half the global average is less than half is about 45% there are huge cultural differences for example I'm from Sweden in Sweden in Europe it will tend to be maybe 60 to 80% Western Europe we tend to think that we are slightly more creative than the average person we go across the Atlantic we go to America North America what happens higher highest 95% North Americans think they're very very creative now I live in Singapore I have been living in Asia for the last 12 years Asia is there if the part of the world that brings the average down Africa is all over the place but after Asia is below average I live in Singapore in Singapore it's 20% in Japan it's 20% and one country's even worse which country do you think has the lowest level of creative confidence it's an Asian country but which one what do you think in your head what did you just say most of you said China but China is high China is like 90% why because big countries have big egos China Brazil India America all Scourby I have beyond 90% it's not China it is South Korea I know it's a big surprise last time I was in South Korea 300 leaders in the audience and they were big Korean companies like Samsung and John by I asked my questions is creativity important in your job may 300 Korean said yes second question do you think you are creative not a single one out of 300 not a single one I said c'mon someone anyone someone who studied in America [Applause] one man raised his hand and said no you just wanted to make a clarification they said no not compared to Leonardo da Vinci that's the Asian way that's the humble way are you creative no not compared to the most creative person who has ever lived what's the Western Way of thinking or your creative oh yes compared to my brother there is no correlation between creative confidence and creativity in South Korea America from the most creative countries on earth but South Korea is also one of the most creative countries on earth there is no correlation but then we have the third question do you think your company is doing enough to develop york the creativity of its employees no two people say yes HR manager and person sitting next to HR manager and that's not a joke is literally happened three times today I'm going to talk about creativity I'm gonna talk about why it is difficult and I'm going to talk about why I believe that that's the number one thing that a leader has to do is to make the people that work for him or her more creative because if everyone says creativity is more important most people say it's an important skill but I don't have it and everyone regardless if they think they are creative or don't think they are creative every single one says my company is not doing enough to develop the creativity of me but that I think is what if imagine if a leader could do that so I'm going to start that by talking about what what is the definition of an idea because I think people need to understand we have this mystical idea about creativity like it's something magical that just pops into your head I'd like to look at it like this an idea is that one person takes two formerly known things and combines them in a new way that's all we have to do one person takes two formerly known things and combines them in a new way we cannot create our own nothing only God can create out of nothing and he did we as mortals we can just combine what already has been created so I'll show you a very simple example so one guy in Lithuania he took two previously known things he combined them in a new way he took the concept of a sink which is a previously known thing and he took the concept of the urinal which is a previously known thing to everyday objects now you take a sink in the urinal you combine the two what you get I have to tell you if I did this in America recently and I swear to you a god said a guy said sink URL combined body means shower [Applause] I think that's called too much information no you take a sink in a urinal you combine the two and you get this now the men get it but the women are still confused so this is how it works for RCP then you wash your hands the water used to wash your hand is now reused to flush or pee away raise your hand if you think this is a good idea ninety percent of you will say so because it is a good idea for multiple reasons recent number one it's safe water and in many parts of the world this is a huge problem we would reduce the amount of water used when men urinate by fifty percent but not only that we also save space and if we save space we save rent which means we save money but not only that we also save time because now we don't have to walk over to the sink it's actually good for a fourth reason to women like to point out to me it's now increases the chance of men washing their hands like we don't do that I'm not showing you this idea because I think it's the Verdi of a Nobel Prize I'm showing you this because it's such a simple product a urinal and after 2,000 years someone was were able to make it better by combining it in a new way we haven't seen before and that is the potential of creativity it's unlimited so the definition of creativity looks like this an idea equals that a person takes knowledge and information and combines it in a new way a person takes knowledge and information and combines it in a new way that's all we have to do that's all what just four people have to understand it is not magical it is easy but the trick here is the plus we put a lot of emphasis on giving people access to knowledge we get a lot of em access or giving people access to information but we put very little emphasis on teaching people the plus and the plus it what makes the difference normally now I would just move on but because I'm speaking to leaders I'm gonna do something I normally don't do I'm gonna give you a second example of someone who took two things and combined them and this time I'm gonna go show you an example of me you see I believe that you expect at a conference like this like like this assume I was here to talk about climbing Mount Everest you would then assume that I have actually climbed Mount Everest if I'm here to talk to how to build a multi-billion dollar company you would assume that I have built a multi-billion dollar company and if I'm here to talk about creativity u.s. leaders you assume you expect you expect me to give an example of my own creativity yes or no put your money where your mouth is walk the talk so I'm not gonna do that I'm going to show you an example of how how I took two previously known things and I combined them are you ready are you ready to be blown away by my creative genius I sense a bit of hesitation anyway I don't care I'm gonna do it anyway I took two previously known things I combined them in a new way I took the concept of a book book are nothing new I took the concept of a notebook notebooks are nothing new you take a book and a notebook you combine the two what do you get you get a book and the notebook so here's my book it's 50% book here you can read or how you can become a more creative person is 50% notebook here you can write down all the brilliant ideas you get when you read my book it's not a book it's not a notebook it's a book and a notebook it's an idea book oh thank you who was that man there you go I'm sorry but pity doesn't help I thank you see now we have a problem I show you you're not a urinal and you go oh that's amazing I'll show you my idea hello I'm in the room and that's your idea some stupid white pages into a book so here's lesson number one just because the room of people don't recognize creative genius when it's being presented to them doesn't mean the idea is not good it only means the group is not good at seeing creative genius being presented to it but I need to do something now I'll need to rebuild credibility I need to get you to think that this idea was at least not bad not worthy of laughter didn't you read learn anything in the previous lessons don't laugh do you know how many copies the average business book sells only 3,000 copies it's very difficult to sell many books why because there are hundreds of thousands of business books but companies only buy on average one management book or one leadership book per manager per year the budget for management books is very small and you want to have a best-seller you have to sell in bulk it's very tricky the average big book sells 3,000 copies but I don't sell a book i seller know a notebook notebooks are not bought on the budget for management books notebooks are bought on the budget for stationery and how big is the budget for stationery katti the average business book sell 3,000 copies in the world in its lifetime I have in Singapore alone sold 15,000 copies and I self-published my books I have in Sweden alone sold 150,000 copies and I have in Iceland alone hello Iceland sold 3000 copies how many people live in Iceland 300,000 people that means that one percent of the country's population has bought my book and that's better I think than Harry Potter hopefully respect his back in the room I know I'm not a creative genius but you have to agree that was slightly better than you thought first and that's my point we're not supposed to laugh at someone just because they present an idea we need to at least listen to first why do you think it's a good idea and it's so important right now why because we are living in a time I've been speaking about creativity for more than 20 years it's never been more important than now the speed of innovation is increasing and we need people to keep up when I was born 50 years ago this was literally science fiction imagine a robot that cleans our home literally science fiction 50 years later here it is I have to tell you this I did this speech in Sweden recently and I show this picture and by a guy in the back raised his hand and said excuse me which one is the robot [Applause] it turns out he was a robot expert and he said that that round thing was a cool robot 2010 years ago but today no one would care but if you go to a robot exhibition and you show that guy people might get interested and that means that we need something which I call idea perception and I think it's so important that you teach your people their ability to see that the world is changing and understand what that means my perception is the specific kind of creativity it's your ability to see that the world has changed if you're not gonna see if you have idea perception we're gonna use my book my industry as an example the book industry what is a big change it just happened in the book industry for 500 years the book didn't change and then suddenly in the last five years everything happened what is the big change we went from book to everyone at the same time book to book to ebook that's what everyone says except everyone is wrong you see that's not what happened we didn't go from book to ebook ask yourself this question when did people used to read books like 10-15 years ago on the bus on the subway on the airplane 15 minutes before going to sleep and on vacation when do people read books now on vacation what do people do on the bus on the subway on the airplane and 15 minutes before going to sleep what do they do what do you do see we didn't go from book to ebook we went from book to face book okay book to you to book the Twitter box book to Angry Birds only 3% from from vent from book to ebook I can prove it to you these are pictures I've been taking recently in airports this is in in Manila and I know one of them is reading a book but first don't get too excited why is he reading a book he ran out of battery that's absolutely correct but the other three are on gadgets and none of them is on reading an e-book they're playing games this is in Kuala Lumpur one family they'd rather share one computer then read something on paper but my next picture is my favorite it's the perfect symbol of what is happening in the book industry right now and it is the most depressing pictures you will ever see it's gonna make you cry if you believe in books actually if you believe in humanity is gonna make you cry some people think that this picture somehow is fake because it's so good like I staged it or something no she doesn't know I'm taking the picture and I took the picture myself it actually happened and he's gonna make you cry are you ready happen in Singapore about three years ago look at this this is a woman pretending to read the book but she's not reading a book she is watching a movie on her iPhone and the book just died not totally but kind of and that is the problem the problem is now that we are in this rapid change not ready for this change because we as human beings are not very good at change not very good at change so I'm gonna tell you a story to symbolize this but before I do that I need to ask you kind of a question aren't any Germans in the room oh they're all in the same place how very German all right so let's see Germans do you have a sense of humor I [Applause] think they said yes I'm gonna assume they said yes so this story is about a German okay and my brother from Sweden so here's my brother this is no this is not my brother this is a swimming pool so my brother comes down he's on vacation it comes down to the hotel swimming pools there's no one in the pool the pool is empty okay there's one man sitting here he's the German my brother comes into the swimming pool jumps into the swimming pool and starts to swim so let me ask you a question how are we supposed to swim swim in a swimming pool anyone helped me out how are we supposed to swim huh which way there you go very good like this are you German yeah we're supposed to swim like this up and down up and down let me ask you why what is what is the reason there must be a reason what is the reason because anyone helped me out why the lines no there's no lines remind never mind the lines it's longer see was that you said that yeah it's always a man who gives me the answer and he also he always very very confident when he gives me the answer like I'm asking the most stupid question in the world I say why are we swimming like it it's the longest move on okay sir this is longer [Applause] so we women this has nothing to do with my speech but just because a man sounds very confident when he says something doesn't mean he's right only means he's confident no the reason we seem like this is not because it's the longest is the longest without annoying anyone that is the reason but remember I told you there was no one in the swimming pool there was no one to annoy so my brother swam like this and here's the problem this part of the swimming pool was in the shadow and every time my brother comes into this part of the swimming pool it became cold and uncomfortable but he continues to seem like this because you're supposed to swim like this then suddenly my brother has an idea says wait I'm the only person in the pool I can swim anywhere I want so he start to swim like this [Applause] German man stands up true story walks up to the swimming pool except my brother says excuse me you are swimming the wrong line my brother thinks is kidding so he says yes I know how he continues to sailor [Applause] but the Germans are not kidding okay the German man comes back this time his angry screaming at my brother says excuse me I told you you are swimming the wrong way for my brother does the Swedish thing mr. X which is to explain himself he says I know I'm supposed to swim like this actually I did swim like this but you see this part was in the shadow became cold and uncomfortable sources maybe I can swim like this and since there's no one else in this women pool I'm not disturbing anyone Durbin says you are disturbing me my brother gets so shocked he start to swim like this again but then he says to himself to his credit he says who is this man to tell me how I am supposed to swim in a swimming pool so he start to swim like this again and then just a pistol German off start to swim in circles [Applause] what is a lesson here the lesson is that most of us are just like my brother and or the German it's nothing against Germans it's all of us but the people that you are leading are so stuck in doing things the way we used to do in because that's how someone told us how to do it and no one thinks we're doing enough to help them solve the problem but imagine if we did imagine if we had as leader the focus and the priority to say my one of the most important things I have is to teach my people or make my people more creative imagine the potential of making the world better so how do you do it when you don't do it by talking about creativity you don't do it by adding innovation and creativity into your mission statements you don't get it by talking about creativity you don't even do it by teaching creativity not even buying a creativity book you do it by doing create these things yourself as a leader because people are inspired to be creative they look at someone else doing something creative and they say that I can do that I believing if she can do that I can do that too so think about this write this down what is the most creative thing I had been done down as a leader what is the most creative thing I could do as a leader you see the word creativity comes from the word create and the word create is closely connected to the word create or and world creator means God we are never I would argue never closer to God than we have when we have a really really really good idea we can sense God I urge you to develop your creativity so that you may inspire your people to be more creative because that is how we create a better world good luck with that and thank you very much [Applause]

2 thoughts on “What is creativity? Speech on Business Creativity by Fredrik Haren, author of "The Idea Book".

  1. Detta var bra kvällsläsning. =).

    Det finns lite hopp om Ljud/E-böcker i alla fall.
    Jag som kanske bara har läst en bok på 10år skaffade ett provapå abbonemang på en ljudboksapp.
    Eftersom att jag pendlar tre timmar om dagen tänkte jag att jag kanske kunde lyssna på en bok ibland istället för musik.
    Detta var för 13 dagar sedan.
    På 13 dagar har jag lyssnat igenom 8 böcker. 43 timmar totalt.
    Det började med en deckare, sen biografier och nu Beteendevetenskap.
    På bara några dagar har en helt ny värld öppnat sig och med hjälp av den senaste boken förstår jag både mig själv och andra bättre.
    Kreativt, vet inte.
    Intressant?
    Verkligen.

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