Enter the new year resolved to continuously cultivate your creativity. Why? Because creativity is the fundamental means to discovery, reinvention and attunement. It is a "chaordic system" consisting of randomness (the "chaos") and structure (the "order") that leads to innovative outcomes. The psychologist Mihaly Csiksgentmihalyi likened creativity to a "flow" state.

The following 3 books will enlighten and inspire you to explore the chaordic systems in your own work and help you to think and do, reflect and wander, brainstorm and make decisions. Each book has its own means to harvest creativity for better futures- in the individual and in the organization. I share these in the order in which I discovered them.

Draw To Win by Dan Roam. I've written in earlier articles about the power of doodling in exercising our whole mind and so I try to doodle a little each day. Last summer I had the opportunity to take one of Dan Roam's Napkin Academy workshops. At the end of a mind-expanding 2 days, we each received a copy of his latest book, Draw To Win- A Crash Course on How to Lead, Sell and Innovate with Your Visual Mind. What I like about the book is that it is a short, concise summary of Dan's greatest hits from the past 10 years, and a clear reference guide on how to visualize a complex idea with lines, circles, arrows, stick figures and venn-diagrams in order to express critical thinking. Because that's the thing: drawing what you want to achieve has less to do with your illustration skills, and everything to do with your analytical ability. So it goes to show: analysis is a creative act!

Design a Better Business by Patrick van der Pijl, Justin Lokitz and Lisa Kay Solomon. The team at Business Models Inc has published Design a Better Business, a comprehensive show & tell about the intersection of design and business. Through a colorful combination of stories and insights from designers and business thought leaders, illustrations, canvases and doodles I enjoyed the ways this book lays out very practical tools to execute on the "how" of design thinking for strategy. Starting with teaming (yes, forming and working in teams must be practiced), working through ways to do basic qualitative research, setting up experiments for everything from new marketing strategies to organizational design, and factoring in metrics and investment this book is a handy reference for design thinking novices and experts.

The Neo-Generalist by Kenneth Mikkelsen and Richard Martin. In this book I have found my tribe! What Kenneth and Richard call "neo-generalists" I called boundary spanning in a 2016 talk I gave at the Business Innovation Factory. Neo-generalists are people who are serial specialists and practice being curious and adaptive no matter what their field. What I love about The Neo-Generalist: Where You Go Is Who You Are are the poetic and philosophical reflections that Kenneth and Richard bring to their exploration of people who are network navigators, constantly traversing the specialist-generalist continuum. They debunk the myth that the greatest attainment in one's career is hyper-specialization. The book reads more like a collection of essays on cultural studies. I have a liberal arts background, so I love this endorsement to bring a humanities perspective to business in my own design strategy work.

If history is prologue, dig into these books now: draw, design and explore your inner specialist-generalist. Develop the chaordic skills and mindset necessary for a better future.

Published on: Dec 31, 2016