The Orbital PerspectiveThis post is reprinted, with permission, from the book “The Orbital Perspective: Lessons in Seeing the Big Picture from a Journey of 71 Million Miles,” by Col. Ron Garan (USAF ret.) (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2015). Garan is a decorated fighter pilot, astronaut, aquanaut and entrepreneur. He has logged 178 days in space and 71 million miles in orbit. He is the founder of the nonprofit social enterprise incubator Manna Energy Foundation and has worked with the U.S. Agency for International Development. Garan is also the founder of Fragile Oasis, an effort to use the orbital perspective to inspire positive social and environmental action. Follow Garan on Twitter.

Just as partners need to allow each other to provide expertise and act independently when necessary, a collaborative environment requires mechanisms that provide workers closest to the issues with a clear, open channel to communicate ideas, suggestions, and improvements to management.

Those that have decision-making authority for a team or business must trust the creativity and intelligence of the members of their team. (read more…)

A significant investment is made each year on studies, training, portals and programs related to career development; yet, the return on this investment continues to disappoint organizations, leaders and employees alike. And it’s unfortunate, because what’s needed doesn’t cost even a dollar. What’s needed to ensure healthy, sustainable career development is creativity.

“Creativity” and “career development” rarely come up in the same sentence. In fact, many organizations have inadvertently wrung a lot of creativity out of career development through the creation of complicated systems, processes, step-wise tools and forms. Yet what they’re discovering is, the more sophisticated the individual development planning process, the less creativity is actually allowed.

As a result, many managers and employees are painting by numbers when it comes to career development. They do what’s expected of them. They complete the forms. They meet the deadlines. And they continue to complain about the lack of authentic career development in their organizations. (read more…)

9781119012115.pdfToday’s great companies win by disrupting stale industries. That is, the great companies of the 21st century destroy the status quo in ways that the incumbents never see coming. Google. Uber. Airbnb.

These greats didn’t make slight improvements to the search, transportation, and lodging industries. Rather, they strapped C4 to the existing model and blew it to pieces.

When you blow up an existing model, you upset the existing players. Those existing players then unite to launch a defense attack. Law suits. Smear campaigns. Anti-disruptor regulation.

How do you survive these defensive attacks? Easy. Constructive disruption.

Is Google evil? Who cares.

Is Uber safer than cabs? It doesn’t matter.

Is Airbnb a legal alternative to hotels? Irrelevant.

Google, Uber and AirBnB disrupt the right way. That’s why they are winning.

Follow these three principles to achieve constructive disruption.

No. 1: Be truthful and transparent

When disruptors challenge the status quo, questions regarding the disruptor’s legality or legitimacy often arise. (read more…)

Highly structured lives, busy schedules and constant communication mean that employees today have less of a propensity to be creative. We think we have to buy tools, refurnish offices, and hire consultants to help us be creative, when what we really need is a little old fashioned down time.

Ironically, the innovation that has led us to this point is what’s stopping us from continuing. We need to get back to the basics to be creative.

Here are three forgotten ways to boost creativity.

Be bored.

Remember when you were a kid and you told your parents you were bored? What was their response? While today’s parents would hand over an iPhone to play with, the old-fashioned response would be something to the effect of “A little boredom will do you good.” It turns out they were right. A study by Mann and Cadman reported in the Creativity Research Journal shows that being bored can elicit divergent thinking — the generation of new and different ideas. (read more…)

Today marks the anniversary of Thomas Edison’s birth in 1847. Modern society owes a debt of gratitude to this man who invented the incandescent light bulb, phonograph and early movie cameras, amassing 1,093 U.S. patents for these and other inventions.

What can we learn from innovators such as Edison, especially in how they cultivated cultures of creativity and innovation?

Edison famously said, “Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.” Continuous experimentation, learning from one’s failures and persevering were obvious aspects of the culture Edison cultivated among the team supporting him.

A closer look at Edison and other successful inventors shows that creativity and innovation are social in nature, and frequently arise when a fragment of knowledge from one domain is combined with a fragment in another domain. For example, the shoe was combined with the wheel to create roller skates, and the shape of a waffle was adapted to hold a scoop of ice cream, giving us the waffle cone. (read more…)