The Creative Conflict of the Eclectic

“Chief among our gains must be reckoned this possibility of choice, the recognition of many possible ways of life, where other civilizations give a satisfactory outlet to only one temperamental type, be he mystic or soldier, businessman or artist, a civilization in which there are many standards offers a possibility of satisfactory adjustment to individuals of many different temperamental types, of diverse gifts, and varying interests.” – Margaret Mead

The Creative Conflict of the Eclectic

As a singer, writer, actor and more Nick Cave is a prolific and creative artist. Part of his creative potential flows from his long list of influences, if this partial list is anything to go by. The creative power of an eclectic list of influences from a variety of fields, genres and schools of thought is that it offers us the contrast & conflicts that enable us to push our work beyond its normal range. The ability to span a wider range of influences and to embrace ongoing conflict of schools of thought is an important part of why culture moves forward when management often sits still.

A wide range of inspirations & inputs offers us views that shatter our hallucinations and draw in the perspectives of the wider communities around us. Ideas profit by the testing of conflicting view points and the demands of additional stakeholders.

As Margaret Mead suggests in the quote above, we need diverse roles and viewpoints to be able to realise the creative potential of all people. We need diverse sources of conflict to see the world as it isAverages & standards constrain us. We need to leverage the creative potential of all human capabilities. In our organisations and our approaches to personal knowledge mastery, we need to resist the temptation to associate with similar people and to be drawn to the bubble of our own reflected opinions. We need to engineer difference of views and the conflict that flows from it.

The leadership task is not alignment without conflict. The work of leadership is alignment before, during and after conflict. In a world of continuous change, the conflict is inevitable. We must choose to embrace it.

But Conflict Must Change Work

Conflict and debate can be captivating. Generating new ideas and thoughts is often an extraordinarily exhilarating process. Creativity is itself an occupation for many.

Most organisations need more than creativity. They need change that can create new value.  The delivery of better value in its widest sense is what matters. That takes new and better ways of working.

Let the conflicts and the inspiration catch you in the process of making a little change. At that moment, there is a far better chance of inspiring some new form of value.

Inspiration exists but it has to find us working – Pablo Picasso

Every action writes your autobiography


I came across this quote today in an exhibition of the work of the photographer Sue Ford.

We can learn from artists

For an artist it is clear that each work even a representation of another is an expression of their own potential as an artist. To make a work is to put the best of your talents on display.

We can learn a much about the future of our work from the edges explored by artists.

One of the reasons art demands this challenge is the arts is an arena of the long tail. Harold Jarche has discussed the implications of the long-tail for the future of work. We are increasingly engaged in knowledge work in a networked economy as content creators, sharers or remixers and facing the same economic effects as artists.

Every action writes your autobiography

The insight from Sue Ford’s quote above is to recognise that every action we take is an opportunity to put the best of our talents on display. We express ourselves through the big and small actions we take every day. Often the actions we don’t take are even more important when we give up the opportunity to realise our potential or to learn and grow.

We will be judged by our actions. Networks are demanding and will route around the inactive, those who fail to lead or those who fail their potential. Our reputation will be built and quickly shared through our networks. We write an autobiography in action and we are judged not for our words but the actions we take.

What do you want your autobiography to say? What potential is yours to realise? Your next action will provide an answer.

Why not make your next action a work of art?

More Poetry at Work


The magic of social collaboration is when you become part of a conversation, then others bring their insights.  After the last two posts, this has become poetry week (or so it seems).  

Two Quick Reads

My last two posts discovered two further good reads on the power of poetry:

Deeper Reading

For anyone who wants to dive deeper into this topic, I can recommend:


Lastly, go to your favourite bookstore and buy a book of poetry. There is no better way to realise the power than to dip into the inspiration of a collection of great poems.

One book can make a difference. My journey into the power of poetry began when a good friend, Geoff Higgins, gave me a copy of Seamus Heaney’s The Haw Lantern. Geoff did me an enormous favour because great poetry is a passion that can sustain a life of creative work.

You could do worse than to decide to follow this practice by the wise Lois Kelly: