Creativity the starting point
Highly effective school leaders encourage the creativity of staff to find better solutions to school problems. The creative process starts with incubation, which allows alternatives to be considered subconsciously. The creative moment may follow when there is a sudden insight, a mental leap to a new solution. This can occur for both individuals and teams. The arbitrary or accidental is often significant in this process. Serendipity, associated with creativity, is the facility for encountering unexpected good luck as a result of accident, wisdom or exploratory behavior. The development of professionalism has traditionally concentrated on left-brain skills, with excessive respect for logic, reason and rationality.
Mind maps, for example, use images that are often more evocative than words, and more precise and potent in triggering a wide range of associations and thinking. The techniques used include: emphasis – a clear central image and links with the key concepts, colors, spacing; association – arrows, codes, geometrical shapes; clarity – build on the one keyword, make the images clear, the words should be on lines and connected to other lines indicating their relative importance; develop a unique personal style. Taking notes, thinking of new ideas, summarizing information is best done using the association of keywords and not in a written linear form.
Developing a creative culture
Instant judgment is the opposite of creativity. Creativity and structure are complementary as in art.
A technique that can be used is imagining life at each extreme of a dilemma, or deliberately creating uncertainty so that complexity is not seen as a challenge to analysis but a signal to engage and trust intuition and emotional awareness. In such techniques, it is important to acknowledge and value differences, to allow two conflicting requirements to swirl around and interact. This can transform both and lead to a new way forward.
Kirton adaption–invention inventory
A psychometric instrument that reliably provides some analysis of creativity is the Kirton Adaption-Innovation (KAI) Inventory which measures the preferred thinking style in respect of problem-solving, creativity and decision-making. Kirton (1991) posits that everyone can be located on a continuum from the highly adaptive to the highly innovative. Adaption is the preference for improving existing practice. Innovation represents a preference for exploring new problems and offering solutions that may challenge accepted practice.
The current and emerging problems and concerns of all stakeholders in the school community provide the raw material for strategic advantage. Strategy is the cyclical iterative process for continuous improvement. There may be breakthroughs and creative loops but the process is continuous. A capability for learning and innovation is integral to school strategy development.
Thinking like a genius
Michalko (1998) examined the thinking strategies of geniuses and sees as central their ability to think productively not reproductively because they have the capacity not to be skewed by the prism of past experience. Geniuses conceptualize problems in many different ways, making their thoughts visible, using unique combinations of verbal, visual, and spatial abilities. Most importantly they produce constantly. Geniuses generate a rich diversity of novel and unpredictable alternatives, constantly combining and recombining ideas, images and thoughts in their conscious and unconscious minds, forcing relationships out of juxtapositions between dissimilar subjects.
Imagination (Morgan, 1993) is a managerial skill which aids the development and understanding of individual creative potential and the finding of innovative solutions. The strategic termites, whose nests are products of random self-organizing activity where structures emerge in a haphazard and unplanned way, provide a metaphor and inspiration for developing coherent approaches to strategic management and change. The spider plant provides another metaphor for an organization. Future block as conceived here may relate very directly to education, that is: change, change, and change with, nevertheless, all kinds of factors in the current situation reinforcing the status quo. The exploration of such metaphors can be particularly useful in breaking free of immobilizing patterns.