April 27, 2020
Below is a lesson from Harvard Business Review on why we need imagination during these times of crisis more than ever, as well as our key learning.
The Blue Courage team is dedicated to continual learning and growth. We have adopted a concept from Simon Sinek’s Start With Why team called “Learn, Share, Grow”. We are constantly finding great articles, videos, and readings that have so much learning. As we learn new and great things, this new knowledge should be shared for everyone to then grow from.
We Need Imagination Now More Than Ever
By Martin Reeves and Jack Fuller
April 10, 2020
The idea of “crisis management” requires no explanation right now. Something unexpected and significant happens, and our first instincts are to defend against — and later to understand and manage — the disturbance to the status quo. The crisis is an unpredictable enemy to be tamed for the purpose of restoring normality.
But we may not be able to return to our familiar pre-crisis reality. Pandemics, wars, and other social crises often create new attitudes, needs, and behaviors, which need to be managed. We believe imagination — the capacity to create, evolve, and exploit mental models of things or situations that don’t yet exist — is the crucial factor in seizing and creating new opportunities, and finding new paths to growth.
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- The crisis is an unpredictable enemy to be tamed for the purpose of restoring normality.
- Pandemics, wars, and other social crises often create new attitudes, needs, and behaviors, which need to be managed.
- Imagination — the capacity to create, evolve, and exploit mental models of things or situations that don’t yet exist — is the crucial factor in seizing and creating new opportunities, and finding new paths to growth.
- Imagination is also one of the hardest things to keep alive under pressure. Companies that are able to do so can reap significant value.
- With imagination, we can do better than merely adapting to a new environment — we can thrive by shaping it.
- Renewal and adaptive strategies give way to classical planning-based strategies and then to visionary and shaping strategies, which require imagination.
- How to Develop Your Organization’s Capacity for Imagination
- Carve out time for reflection:
- We won’t see the big picture unless we stand back and reflect.
- Most of the time in business we operate with our instinctual “fight-or-flight” nervous system that evolved to help us in high-pressure situations – narrowing our focus.
- Ways to switch off the fight-or-flight mode and support reflections:
- Taking a few deep in-breaths and longer out-breaths
- Taking time over a meal to rest, digest, and reflect
- Listening to or playing music
- Going for a walk without your phone
- Ask active, Open Questions:
- reach beyond and ask questions that prompt the exploration of fresh ideas and approaches. We need to be asking active questions, not passive questions.
- Allow yourself to be playful:
- In times of stress we overlook the important human capacity to play.
- Biologically, play can be characterized as de-risked, accelerated learning.
- Creativity is the rearrangement of existing knowledge into new, useful combinations, like playing with Lego bricks.
- Set up a system for sharing ideas:
- Ideas evolve and spread by being able to skip between minds!
- Collective imagination – allowing new ideas to be shared while they are still in development: creating forums for people to communicate in a casual way, without hierarchy, reports, permissions, or financial justifications.
- Seek out the anomalous and unexpected:
- When we adapt our mental models, we entertain different strategies and courses of action.
- To solve tough new problems, look externally.
- Encourage experimentation:
- Our ideas only become useful if they are practiced in the real world, often generating unexpected outcomes and stimulating further thinking and new ideas.
- Stay hopeful:
- Imagination feeds off the aspirations and aggravations that propel us to seek a better reality.
- When we lose hope and adopt a passive mindset, we cease to believe that we can meet our ideals or fix our problems.
- As a leader, ask yourself whether you are giving people grounds for hope, imagination, and innovation, or whether you are using pessimistic or fatalistic language, which could create a downward spiral in organizational creativity.
- Carve out time for reflection:
- All crises contain the seeds of opportunity.