Sir Ken Robinson
Internationally-renowned expert in the development of human potential in business and education
This was an amazing start to the conference. Ken was an incredibly engaging speaker, really funny and he even managed to bust out a Perth joke in his opening address. I’ll admit whilst I was laughing at his jokes I did think he slightly resembled Austin Powers father with his English charm!
On a more serious note, Sir Ken Robinson is an internationally recognised leader in the development of creativity, innovation, education and HR through his work with international governments, Fortune 500 companies, not-for-profit corporations and some of the world’s leading cultural organisations.
The biggest take out for me was about being creative and reaching your potential. I think in HR sometimes we are too busy putting out the fires and we forget that the real basic aim is to help people perform at their best, and this involves them being creative and reaching their full potential whether they work in marketing, sales, engineering, finance or IT. Our culture has certain presumptions about creativity (about who is creative and who isn’t) – but Sir Ken argued that everyone is and has the capacity to be creative; it’s just that some people have discovered their natural creative abilities and some haven’t. There is a lot you can do to be more creative everyday. Anything can be creative whether it’s a process, product or system.
He made us think about the world and how it changes constantly. For example, kids who start school this year will retire in about 2070- what will the world look like in this time? The thing is we don’t know and the point is- we can’t keep using the same ideas and assumptions about HR today to use in the future. Everyone in the organisation in fact needs to think differently in the future and that’s the reason why creativity is so important. With the turbulence of the market and the rate of technological change we need to make innovation and creativity systemic in what we do.
So what is creativity? Sir Ken argues that imagination is the roof of human consciousness and that creativity means putting your imagination to work. Being creative is a practical activity. It’s the process of having original ideas that add value. It’s about fresh thinking and adding value to what you do. Innovation is putting good ideas into practice.
He then spoke about how in the past HR has been seen as primarily a service function but now more than ever needs to be seen as strategic, and that we need to challenge what has been taken advantage of in the past- the things that are commonsense and habitual because this is precisely what kills creativity.
It made me really think about what I am doing every day in my role, and that I need to be constantly thinking how we can be doing things differently. We can’t always be saying ‘that’s the way it’s always been done’ and we need to be open minded about new ideas.