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Unbounded creative freedom
Bounded only by natural constraints
I keep coming back to the topic of Creative Freedom and Creative Tension. So today’s post is going to delve into this topic a little bit more to clarify. I should thank Bou’s enthusiastic response to yesterday’s post “Growing Creative humans” and it is responses like these that push my creative juices and keep them inflow. For that, I am extremely thankful to him. Today’s post also responds to some of his ideas and perspectives raised in his response.
Here is a summary of Bou’s responses:
Suggest looking at from the perspective of evolutionary biology and psychology.
Bacteria have two programs - explore if safe, else withdraw.
Stephen Porges and Polyvagal theory. In effect, psychological safety
Inherently unsafe HR systems in organizations. The topic of performance evaluation.
Final comment “Humans are their best and thrive is when they are safe and find themselves in an environment that is conducive to being their best and thriving.”
I shall take these on, one at a time.
I shall start with Stephen Porges and his Polyvagal theory. As you should know by now, I have extraordinary reading challenges, so I did find Stephen’s books on Scribd in audio form. So, I do need to get to these. This is going to take a while since I am also stuck in some pathological challenges at the moment. So, I took a shortcut on this. I ordered Deb Dana’s “Polyvagal Flip Chart” for therapists and this will help me quickly learn the subject. So that should be in two days’ time.
I do look at everything from an evolutionary biology perspective. Not so much from a psychological perspective. Let me explain why. I agree with the premise talked about by Murray Gell-man and he famously said that “the only valid model of the human system is the system itself” (H/T Dave Snowden). Once you look at things that way, psychology tends to put things into boxes. And my belief is that there is “no box” and there is a lot of confusion of mixing up correlations and causations.
From a biological perspective, for me, it is a very simple outlook. The above bacteria example can be changed to evolve, survive, evolve, survive, evolve… And some bacteria make it and some don’t and those that evolve, survive. That is creation (creativity) in action. We certainly have a survivorship bias as history is always written in the eyes of the survivors. This is certainly not “I shall dip my toes into the unsafe waters and see” as the bacteria have no toes.
So in my belief in spite of significant research, there is no correlation between the success of an organization and psychological safety. If you look at the Fortune 1000 list, most organizations could be classified as unsafe organizations to work at with poor HR systems and practices. So, if you look at this lens, in fact, you would perpetuate unsafe organizations in order to be wildly successful by that metric. No, I am not advocating that and in fact, believe that psychological safety can be useful, but also believe that psychological safety is an outcome, a byproduct of other things done in organizations.
This brings me back to “Creative Freedom”. To have creative freedom, psychological safety might help. But humans are creative under extreme conditions, and extremely creative when pushed to the corner and survive beyond all odds and impossibilities. So, unbounded creative freedom might lead to high levels of creative flow.
And this is balanced by “Creative Tension” - sometimes this can be from stress, sometimes it can be when people are pushed to a corner and sometimes it could be from psychologically safe environments. I believe the best tension will be a Leader who can lead through a “real” crisis, one that the followers truly own and believe in. Optionally, leaders could “sell” a “real” forthcoming crisis that the followers believe could be true and subscribe to it, so that they unleash their creativity. There might be other approaches to “Creative Tension” and essentially all I am saying is that something bounds the unbounded creativity and freedom, to create something of utility and survival.
Creative Freedom and Creative Tension is all about creating options, options that create a higher level of utility over energy spent. so that the “system” survives (or thrives - J curves) or builds “resilience”
So I would modify the final comment “Humans are their best and thrive is when they find themselves in an environment that is conducive to being their best and thriving.” - safety or lack of both could be factors to such thriving in various contexts.
I guess that is enough meandering for one day, but I shall continue to meander on… the journey continues…
Complexity theories and Systems Thinking: parallels and differences https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/complexity-theories-systems-thinking-parallels-marco-valente/
7 Differences between complex and complicated https://www.morebeyond.co.za/7-differences-between-complex-and-complicated-systems/
Murray Gell-Mann https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Murray_Gell-Mann