Traditionally, creative thinking has been seen as the province of artists and other ‘creatives’. Yet, we are all born with minds-bodies-souls capable of enormous creativity. As the Sri Lankan art historian Ananda Coomaraswami noted, ‘An artist is not a special kind of person but every person is a special kind of artist.’ Each of us has immense creative potential, though there seems to be little room for creativity within today’s hectic schedule.
John Cleese, the famous ‘creative’, regards creativity as the ability to play, be childlike, explore ideas and be curious. We have two states of mind, he says, one that is ‘open’ and one that is ‘closed’:
Closed State: Active, impatient, pensive, very purposeful, not much humour, can get stressed – not creative but action-orientated.
Open State: Less purposeful, more inclined to humour, more playful, curiosity for its own sake, not under time pressure to get a specific thing done – more creative.
To be effective, we need to switch between a state of mind that is ‘open’ and creative and ‘closed’ and focused. All too often, Cleese finds, in today’s busyness we rush to the closed state of ‘doing’ and so trample over the creativity in our midst, ending up with poorer solutions than if we had stayed in the open state for longer.
Tapping into our creative potential becomes an unveiling process we allow to happen by opening up to all that is within and around us, unfettered by our ‘closed’ state – which the neuroscientist Iain McGilchrist would say is that of our left-brain hemisphere, and anthropologist Steve Taylor would say is that of the ego-self. The narrow-mindedness of this ‘closed’, ‘left-brained’ or ‘egoic’ state is an important aspect of how we humans attend to life; it enables us to categorise and package up aspects of reality while defining our sense of ‘self’ from ‘other’. Yet, when this way of attending dominates, we overly extract our conscious awareness from the innate and primal creativity of life; a vicious cycle of anxiety, defensiveness, competition and alienation ensues. It leads to what Albert Einstein referred to as an optical illusion of consciousness, where we get caught up in our own abstraction, like a hall of mirrors, entrapped and deluded by our own illusion of separation. Enter the contagion of consumerism in our midst.
The other weekend I had the pleasure of co-hosting a Hackathon/Inquiry with a group of millennials, domain experts, media specialists and cultural catalysts. The Inquiry being hacked was:
‘How to Catalyse the Necessary Shift in Human Consciousness’.
I would like to share insights and learning gleaned from this Hackathon about the art of orchestrating and hosting space for a flow-based output-focused Inquiry to successfully emerge.
First of all though, let’s briefly touch on what we mean by a ‘shift in consciousness’ and why an Inquiry into this is necessary, timely and important.
I am reminded by what the playwright, political activist, poet and first Prime Minister of The Czech Republic, Vaclav Havel famously said when addressing US Congress:
‘Without a global shift in human consciousness, the catastrophe towards which this world is now headed will be unavoidable.’
Havel said these words back in 1990, yet they just as – if not more – relevant, timely, urgent and true today.
And what do we mean by a ‘shift in human consciousness? Surely this can mean lots of things to lots of people? In essence, what we are meaning here is our relationship with ourselves, each other and the world around us; a shift from an essentially fear-based, control-based, individualistic, reductive, separating, polarizing logic towards a way of perceiving, attending and relating with life that is more authentic of who we truly are as human beings and of how life really is beyond the jaundice perspective of our ego-eyed squint.
This ‘shift’ may be a subtle and fleeting alteration in how we chose to perceptive and engage with the moment in our midst, and it may also be a life-changing eye-opening transformation in our lives that profoundly effects our sense of place and purpose in this world.
Five o’clock in the morning and the sky’s already an awesome array of vibrant pinks, oranges and mellow yellows. Rainbow-tinted fluffy clouds gently clearing away to reveal what becomes a gloriously hot English summer’s day. Next to me as I sit amid mammoth trees in the beautiful grounds of Ashridge Business School is a young female deer, both of us entranced by each other’s glance.
By 8.30am a gaggle of eighteen intrepid and experienced participants settle in the comfortable surrounds of the lounge for light refreshments. A diverse cohort of corporate pioneers and cultural creatives are quick to form a tribe of kindred spirits, sharing and exploring with humility and courage on our mini-quest; blending heady business content and shared experiences with soulful, somatic exercises.
‘A workshop full of insight and wisdom delivered in such a concise and accessible way’ – participant feedback
What were the objectives and intended outcomes of this workshop? Our intention was to reach beyond the symptomatic surface into the deeper metamorphosis underway in our ways of operating and organising; to hold a space for an artful inquiry into ways of being and doing that aid the transformation of our organisations from firms of the past (top-down, hierarchic, command-and-control, siloed, KPI-obsessed, monolithic monocultures) to firms of the future (living, emergent, diverse, networked, anti-fragile, locally-attuned, soulful, purposeful organisations). For this the context and content of the workshop formed around playing with the tensions of inner-outer and being-doing set within the framing of our organisations becoming future-fit.
‘Fascinating subject with a good balance of theory and bodywork’ – participant feedback
The inner dimension explored our personal transformations, the challenges, experiences and practices of opening ourselves up to deeper ways of being and doing in the workplace. The outer dimension explored the relational challenges and tensions of transforming the cultural mind-set from firm-of-the-past logic (extractive linearity, short-termism, control-based ego-dominator approaches) to more self-organising, empowering, embodied, eco-systemic spiritually-aware partnership approaches required by firms of the future. It is here that we sense how future-fit organisations cannot just be materially and functionally inspired by Nature (enter: biomimetic design, cradle-to-cradle, closed-loop economics, industrial ecology, eco-systemic thinking, and so forth) but also need to be resonant with the metaphysical rhythms and wisdom Nature affords us (enter eco-psychology, somatic awareness, eco-systemic presencing, heart entrainment, phenomenology, shamanic business, conscious leadership and the re-cognition and re-membering of our soulful sense of place and purpose in a deeply sentient world). We also explored our natural ways of knowing in need of being nurtured as we learn to become Natural Leaders in these challenging and volatile climes.
This artful inquiry revealed the need for a shift not just in ways of relating and doing but also in our underlying mythological and philosophical worldview, a shift at deep and partly unconscious levels in how we ‘prehend’ (to use Alfred North Whitehead’s term), how we intuit and perceive ourselves, each other and the more-than-human world. Examples and insights were drawn from the books The Nature of Business (which explores firms of the future as businesses inspired by Nature) and The Illusion of Separation (which explores the philosophical and metaphysical implications of this metamorphosis as we step towards a deeper ecology of business) and Future Fit (a practical workbook that explores 21st Century business transformation towards resilient, flourishing future-fit business).
‘Such a powerful, lovely and deeply wise workshop’ – participant feedback
Clearly there is only so much one can explore in a 9am-3.30pm window while seeking to balance ways of being and doing, inner and outer exploration, participant sharing and networking with concepts, frameworks and tools. If we were to run something similar again we would do things differently, not least finish at 5.30pm or even invite people to join us the evening before. And we were blessed throughout the day with outstanding weather, beautiful surrounds and a wonderful cohort consciously willing to engage open heartedly in a smorgasbord of activities.
What got this all started was a long and energising walk across Dartmoor in the spring haze and April showers with Chris Nichols of Ashridge, to whom I am indebted. During my time at Ashridge I sensed a business school that really ‘gets it’ when it comes to understanding the importance of education rooted in artful inquiry, action research and holistic ways of knowing; exploring beyond the superficial regurgitation of yesterday’s logic. And since that summer’s day I have regularly recommended and referred to the good work of Ashridge, for instance in this recently published Opinion Paper on Redefining the Nature of Business in the Millennial Age.
It was a great honour to explore and share with consciously-aware participants and to work with the talented facilitators Debbie Warrener and Daniel Ludevig as well as case study presenter Chris Randall of Heart-in-Business, not to mention Chris Nichols and Vicki Brown of Ashridge whose support behind the scenes and on the day helped it all sing.
Giles Hutchins is a recognised thought leader, speaker and adviser, applying twenty years of experience to his work at individual and organisational levels. He is author of the books The Nature of Business , The Illusion of Separation and Future Fit.
Leadership is central to this reshaping of our organizations. It is leadership that enables us to traverse our own thresholds while helping others traverse theirs. The origin of the word ‘leadership’ is the old European word leith which means ‘to go forth and cross the threshold’, ‘to let go of old ways and embrace the new’. In other words, leadership is about shaping our future while letting go of yesterday’s logic.
The logic of yesterday haunts many of today’s organizations. Its hallmark is a control-and-predict hurry-up-and-get-on-with-it short-termism. It’s a mechanistic reductive logic infecting how we perceive our world and our sense of self within it. Inured by this logic, we see ourselves as separate “I’s”, self-absorbed units struggling for survival in a dog-eat-dog world.
This logic projects a worldview now ingrained in our educational systems, managerial mind-sets and methods of leading, so much so that many of us believe it to be ‘just the way life is’. Why question this logic when, after all, it’s the ‘logic of life’? Or is it?
The 20th century ‘organisation-as-machine’ metaphor is giving way to the 21st century ‘organisation-as-living-systems’ metaphor.
And this shift is not just metaphoric but metamorphic, affecting all aspects of our enterprising futures: from care provision to car manufacturing, from board-room behaviour to our everyday conversations and creative undertakings. Gone with the winds of change is the out-dated logic of yesterday (with its control-based top-down risk-averse myopic bureaucracies). Enter the logic of living-systems (locally-attuned, life-supporting, empowering, networked, self-organising, for-purpose enterprises).
The implications are huge. Those that fail to embrace this shift in logic will be yesterday’s news.
Future Fit is a response to this: it is a practical workbook for those of us involved in the future of business.
This timely book is packed full of tips, techniques, insights, approaches, case studies and examples to help leaders, managers, change agents and entrepreneurs transform their organizations into firms of the future.
Here is the website for the book which has just been released www.futurefitbook.com
Also a short 3mins video here
And here are some of the endorsements coming in about this book:
‘The world we live in has become more complex, uncertain, and rapidly changing. This is the backdrop the business world must operate in and the old machine paradigm is no longer suited for this world. We see an emerging trend of moving from a mechanistic view of business to an organic, living organization framework, and Future Fit goes right to the heart of it. Packed full with practical insights to help activate and catalyze this transformation, this is a brilliant book that will help you wrap your head around the shifting paradigm at the vanguard of future business. Read it!’ Norman Wolfe, CEO of Quantum Leaders and author of The Living Organization
‘Many books call for new ways of thinking for modern leaders but until Future Fit none have provided such wise, well researched and practical approaches to guide leaders facing deeply complex challenges. In this compelling workbook Giles Hutchins is at the forefront of synthesizing new logics for business with the natural rhythms of life and the human mind that will revolutionize business. Future Fit is a must read for every leader who wants to continue being successful or to move beyond what currently feels like impossible challenges. As an experienced Chief Executive I cannot recommend this powerful work highly enough.’ Dr Lynne Sedgmore CBE, Former Chief Executive of 157 Group, Centre for Excellence in Leadership UK, and ranked one of the UK’s most influential people in Debretts 2015 List.
‘Future Fit is prescient and practical. It describes the future as it can and should be, by drawing on a breadth of knowledge rarely seen in business books. It also makes big, abstract ideas more concrete, by offering examples and advice. This book will help managers navigate a complex world for a more sustainable world. Giles Hutchins is one of the most broad-reaching, forward thinking writers in business.’ Tima Bansal, Canada Research Chair in Business Sustainability, Ivey Business School
‘One of the most urgent challenges for individuals, organizations and the whole human family, is to transform human consciousness so it is fit for the world of the 21st century. Giles Hutchins has written eloquently in all his books about ways of bringing together individual and organizational transformation. In this his latest book, Giles has provided us with a treasure-trove of approaches, methods, models and living examples of ways of creating the regenerative organization of the future, drawn from leading writers, practitioners and pioneer companies from all parts of the globe.’ Peter Hawkins, Professor of Leadership, Henley Business School and author of Leadership Team Coaching and many other books
‘Future Fit is like an Encyclopaedia of anecdotes, practical exercises, reflective questions and real life examples set in a very uplifting context to prepare us for the time to come. It transitions seamlessly from a personal transformation guide to rich resource for an organisational development journey. It is a must read for all change agents, entrepreneurs, and organisational leaders. This book appeals and adds value to all aspects of my life; it will now be my first point of reference for all my personal and professional interventions.’ Darshita Gillies, Coach, Consultant, Entrepreneur & Co-Founder of Blu Dot
‘Future Fit is a practical guidebook for being in business in the 21st century which takes the reader on a journey combining the pragmatic and the inspiring. A masterpiece of synthesis weaving together the emergent strands of wisdom from others with the author’s own extraordinary insights. This is a must-read for any business seeking answers to a deep inner sense that something different is needed for them and their organisation to stay relevant in the 21st century.’ Mark Drewell, Senior Partner, The ForeSight Group, co-founder and former CEO of the Globally Responsible Leadership Initiative
‘Future-Fit builds on Hutchins’ previous books and stellar experience as a consultant. Here are critical inquiries, practical steps, and transforming actions to take, that offer lifesaving radical surgery for humanity and the business world. With breath-taking flair, Hutchins insists on convergence between soul-truth and organisation purpose, and between effective leadership and inner stillness. He dismantles illusions and articulates a bold and sophisticated vision of organisational sanity and new understanding. Implicit in his argument is that changes which are faltering, cosmetic, minor, sluggish, or embarked on less than whole-heartedly are woefully insufficient: given the world’s plight, both in its human and non-human dimensions, we need an intense seriousness of purpose and a revolutionary scale of re-thinking and action – all of which demands new levels of human maturity. He shows many ways of getting there.’ Dr Malcolm Parlett, author of Future Sense, Five Explorations of Whole Intelligence for a World That’s Waking Up.
‘Future-Fit provides the reader with practical modules replete with working examples full of snippets of wisdom. It is that rare book that mixes hands-on practicality with a philosophy of the heart. Giles Hutchins has written a transformational tool for business people and thinkers alike to enable them to adapt from old practices and thinking patterns into new perspectives. Hutchins shows us how to navigate unchartered waters through awareness, personal gnosis, and authenticity. And when Hutchins says – ‘Let’s get practical’ – he lives up to his promise. He reveals how to deal with volatile times ahead by responding with natural creativity, innovation, collaboration, reciprocity, conviviality and empathy. If I was to choose one guide to cross the Rubicon with into the future business world – it would be Giles Hutchins!’ Kingsley L. Dennis PhD, author of The Phoenix Generation: A New Era of Connection, Compassion and Consciousness
The book can be purchased on all Amazon outlets, for instance:
I was recently asked this question while being interviewed in London for a short film. Here is my response:
Amid these times of great upheaval and challenge we are midwifing the birthing of our authentic selves, simultaneously midwifing the metamorphosis of our humanity, within our organizations, communities and wider society. And this birthing inevitably comes with surrendering, pain and an opening up to deeper vistas of what it means to be human.
This surrendering is not a passive act, but a full-bodied, participatory dynamic opening us up to a more intimate experience of Life. It is a letting go of the egoic operating system so ingrained and acculturated in us, which is holding us back, enslaving us with a logic of control, fear, separation and domination. As we learn to let go, we can open up to more of our innate humanity: our courage, creativity and compassion. Courage comes from the Latin cor meaning heart: a letting go of our egotism and an opening up to our heart requires great courage.
We are crossing thresholds that challenge us at deep and partly unconscious levels, and this requires courage.
Each of us has a human responsibility to help ourselves and each other through this painful yet liberating birthing process.
The logic of old with its fear-based, control-based, separating, polarizing perspective can grip us ever-tighter in these times of great upheaval unless we are diligent and dedicated in our attention and intention. This explains the rising interest in the likes of Donald Trump who pander to our fearful nature. These challenging times also provide the crucible for a deeper, truer ‘Logic of Life’ to emerge within and through us. This explains the rising interest in a myriad of collaborative-based, purposeful, values-led, life-enhancing initiatives across the globe.
And so what I see next for our human family is a collective, organizational and personal letting go of hubris and fear while simultaneously opening up to the real ‘Logic of Life’ (the living-systems logic of regenerative, emergent, participatory ways of being & doing) with humility and courage.
Fundamentally, this is our remembrance of who we truly are; emancipation and empowerment of our humanity as we break out of the prison of our own making; a realization of who we were born to be while living up to our name Homo Sapiens – wise beings.
These times of great winds are ushering in a deeper, wiser, more alive logic by which to operate and organize in business and beyond.
My latest book Future Fit will be out very soon (in the next fortnight) watch this space!
See here a couple of recent reviews:
‘Future Fit provides the reader with practical modules replete with working examples full of snippets of wisdom. It is that rare book that mixes hands-on practicality with a philosophy of the heart.
Giles Hutchins has written a transformational tool for business people and thinkers alike to enable them to adapt from old practices and thinking patterns into new perspectives. Hutchins shows us how to navigate unchartered waters through awareness, personal gnosis, and authenticity. And when Hutchins says – ‘Let’s get practical’ – he lives up to his promise. He reveals how to deal with volatile times ahead by responding with natural creativity, innovation, collaboration, reciprocity, conviviality and empathy.
If I was to choose one guide to cross the Rubicon with into the future business world – it would be Giles Hutchins!’
Kingsley L. Dennis PhD, author of The Phoenix Generation: A New Era of Connection, Compassion and Consciousness
‘Here, collected in one place, is a timely handbook filled with tips and practices for the leader at the forefront of the human evolutionary leap in business today.
Giles has done an extraordinary job of pulling together a wide-ranging set of perspectives and techniques that will help leaders to metamorphose their levels of consciousness and reappraise the contribution they can make. It encourages us to see in systems, collaborate across boundaries and collectively imagine and design the future we really want.
If you are one of these leaders who feels the pull towards shaping our emerging future for a better humanity, this book will be your guide.’
Gina Hayden, Co-Founder of the Global Centre for Conscious Leadership
‘In our world of ever-increasing uncertainty, complexity and social upheaval we stand at a crossroads, both individually and organisationally. And each of us has the same choice – to stick or twist. Either we can continue to spectate from the stands, worrying incessantly about where the current situation is leading us, scouring the horizon for yet more evidence before we commit, and throwing insults at those playing whenever they slip. Or we can get on the pitch and start creating.
Giles’s inspiring, beautifully researched, uplifting and compelling book gives you a plethora of ideas to try out for yourself, and the encouragement that comes from knowing you are far from alone.’
Euan Smith, former COO, Sky Deutschland
‘Future-Fit builds on Hutchins’ previous books and stellar experience as a consultant. Here are critical inquiries, practical steps, and transforming actions to take, that offer lifesaving radical surgery for humanity and the business world.
With breath-taking flair, Hutchins insists on convergence between soul-truth and organisation purpose, and between effective leadership and inner stillness. He dismantles illusions and articulates a bold and sophisticated vision of organisational sanity and new understanding.
Implicit in his argument is that changes which are faltering, cosmetic, minor, sluggish, or embarked on less than whole-heartedly are woefully insufficient: given the world’s plight, both in its human and non-human dimensions, we need an intense seriousness of purpose and a revolutionary scale of re-thinking and action – all of which demands new levels of human maturity. He shows many ways of getting there.’
Dr Malcolm Parlett, author of Future Sense, Five Explorations of Whole Intelligence for a World That’s Waking Up.
Watch a 3min video clip on youtube here
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Much vital energy is expended putting out fires while overlooking the need to change the mind-set that causes the fires in the first place.
And so, while important patching up and repairing is undertaken, the problems keep flowing with ever deepening and widening ramifications for ourselves and our children.
The root cause of our sea of troubles is a flawed logic that sets us apart from, and in competition with, our own true nature.
We have become inured in a way of thinking that undermines our humanity, causing all sorts of problems for ourselves, each other and the wider fabric of Life.
This logic is now acculturated, with our cultural constructs, education systems and socio-economic methods steeped in it. It pervades our daily consciousness to such an extent that much of our collective activity assumes it to be just-the-way-life-is.
But it urgently needs addressing if, that is, we are interested in leaving a better world for our children.
To change a cultural mind-set is no small task, yet (fortunately) many people are already on the case, and momentum is building.
The good news is that this profound shift in our cultural mind-set is a liberation of our humanity, an emancipation of the innate empathy, joy, authenticity and biophilic nature of who we truly are.
The more we open up our hearts and minds the more we see beyond the separation, fear and control of yesterday’s logic.
A veil begins to lift from the confusing complex cacophony of our challenges, and a deeper knowing about our way out of this mess becomes apparent.
‘The greatest voyage of our lifetimes, is not in the seeking of new landscapes but in the seeing with new eyes.’ Marcel Proust
Put simply, our development, our learning, our evolution, needs to be rooted in a remembering of the wisdom of Life all around and within us. As Zen teacher Susan Murphy Roshi says, ‘we need to relearn the fundamentals that were once natural to us.’
Today, with each moment, we can begin to sense the innermost weave of the world through our soulful way of being beyond the superficiality of our fragmenting ego; this natural flow of grace is just out of reach of the fickle ego’s endless grasping of having, wanting, owning, controlling, consuming.
To be fully present with self, others and our world is to open up to the wisdom Life. And with this natural grace comes a warmth, an ease, a love, and a righting of ourselves, a healing of our relations, and a birthing of something wiser.
This is not some luxury for the ‘top 1%’ this is our birth-right, our natural capacity as human-beings.
Each and everyone of us has the capacity to become conscious of our interconnectedness with Life, to presence Life as it really is beyond our own ego-filters, acculturations and jaundice judgments.
Mother Nature hear our prayer. Forgive us our trespasses.
As we become conscious of our carcinogenic way of life, we wake up to what we are doing – destroying our future for a superficial present.
‘Forgive them, for they know not what they do’ (Luke 23:34) applies to the unaware, unconscious, asleep. We now live in an era where our carcinogenic ways are known to us… can we truly expect Mother Nature to forgive us our trespasses Ad Infinitum?
What we sow we shall reap. It’s time to learn this basic lesson of Life.
It’s time to start sowing the seeds of our future well-being; sowing the seeds of wisdom and love.
Our current time is the time of the darkening of the light, a time when we experience breakdown that yields breakthrough.
It is up to each of us to take personal responsibility for becoming conscious of, and then start to walk, the only viable path open to us, which begins with opening ourselves up to our authentic human nature found within the wellsprings of our hearts, while learning to quieten the ego-chatter of our thinking minds.
‘We can not do great things, we can only do small things with great love.’ Mother Teresa
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