Developing a Creative Australia

Developing a Creative Australia Requires Adaptive Leadership

” When dealing with an adaptive challenge that requires creativity, you have to tolerate the pains of processes that increase the odds that new ideas will lead to new adaptive capacity” Heifetz, Grashow and Linsky

Richard Howcroft, Chair of Australian Film and Radio School and chief creative officer at PwC recently spoke of the “need to value creativity and understand its centrality to our economy and culture” and defines creativity as “using new and imaginative ideas to create something…”

He talks about imagining and creating lateral connections between industry.. “and the need to “stretch and challenge ourselves, think bigger and extend our ideas in every possible direction.”

Richard has called for the establishment of a Creativity Commission to drive economic growth and ensure that we’re not left behind. He said that “Australia needs a federally supported body dedicated to creative capacity building, to combat (what he described as) “the country’s creative deficit.” See more here where he outlines four primary functions for a Creativity Commission.

A Creativity Commission may be a great idea and possibly a must do for Australia. It may provide the authority to drive a more creative Australia at a national level, however isn’t this a technical response to an adaptive challenge?

Creativity is the work of leadership at all levels of society; in organisations, government and communities. The work of leadership involves harnessing creativity to solve some of our most challenging or wicked problems. Creativity is often what those in authority espouse; however in many organisations or communities it is usually alignment that is really being sought. Avoidance of the friction creativity can cause is often the reality. The time that it takes to create something new (to adapt) the culture of an organisation is often at odds with those in authority who resist the discomfort of cultural change, and return to the status quo. It is much easier and less time consuming to apply a technical fix, like a Commission. And herein lies the adaptive challenge.

At Adaptive Leadership Australia we support the need to develop more creativity in our disrupted world. We believe in the need to develop the capacity to orchestrate a diverse range of interpretations of a complex problem. Harnessing creativity requires the ability to work across difference. In order to bring about creative cultures, organisations, communities and societies, we need to develop the skills of adaptive leadership. Adaptive leadership involves a deep connection to purpose, the ability to challenge the status quo, the courage and skills to challenge deeply ingrained ways of being and doing. It involves engaging those at the margins, listening to the voices of dissent and working across difference, functions, industry and sectors in order to collaborate and create new and better outcomes. It indeed involves challenging ourselves, thinking bigger and extending the ideas of others in every possible direction in service of that purpose.

Julie Ahern is a Director at Adaptive Leadership Australia.

Get in touch with Adaptive Leadership Australia for more information about our progressive approach to developing the skills needed to develop a Creative Australia.