While doing my research for my upcoming lecture and workshops on Leadership, Intellectual Stimulation and its relationship with creating a culture of innovation and creativity in the workplace, I came across a video of a talk by John Cleese where, while referring to the work of Donald W. Mackinnon from the Institute of Personality Assessment and Research, University of California, Berkeley, he talks about people being in one of two states ‘open’ or ‘closed’.

I just love it when I learn something so obvious that I ask myself ‘why haven’t I thought of it like that before?’  – Simon Sinek’s ‘Why, what, how’’ also falls very much into that category.

Mackinnon said ““Creativity is not related to one’s intelligence, and it is not a talent.”  However, I got the impression that John Cleese took that idea further and saw creativity as more a way of operating. Getting yourself into an environment where one is open for new ideas and insights, rather than closed to them.

I like this simple metaphor because it describes exactly what a leader needs to do.  There are times when the team needs to operate in an ‘open’ mode, to allow new ideas, observations and insights to emerge. And there are other times when the needs of daily business mean that the team needs to be operating in more of a ‘closed’ mode.

If anyone ever tells me that they are ‘always open to new ideas’ then I know they are a liar – I have not, yet, met anyone is constantly open. Most of the time we are closed, purely because it makes perfect sense to be (otherwise we would go crazy). The trick is knowing how to consciously move one’s self (and one’s team) from a ‘closed’ state to an ‘open’ one.  And that’s exactly what I will be exploring with my client’s leadership team for the next three days.

Have a good week,


PS If you are interested in seeing the full John Cleese lecture on creativity in Management – here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pb5oIIPO62g