How IBM’s Executive School Fostered Creativity

by Shlomo Maital

   MobleyLouis Mobley

Almost 60 years ago, in 1956, Louis R. Mobley built the IBM Executive School to make IBM senior managers more creative. He used 6 key principles. They are highly relevant today – they made IBM a great company. I found this on a blog called Creativity at Work, in turn citing a Forbes article by August Turakk.

     Try these principles on yourself. Build your own personal Executive School.

   1. Traditional teaching methods (reading, lecturing, testing, memorizing) are worse than useless; they are counter productive, they build ‘boxes’.

2. Becoming creative is an UNLEARNINg process, not learning – you need to abandon, discard, destroy and trash beloved assumptions.

3. You don’t learn to become creative. Instead, you BECOME a creative person behaviorally, by your actions. You transform yourself. By action learning, constant effort and practice, you find solutions to problems that are totally unobvious. You become a creative person through practice, like a piano player learning to play the Minute Waltz.

4. The fastest way to become creative is to hang around with creative people. Creativity is infectious. If you hang around dullards, you will soon be one.

5. Creativity is highly correlated with self-knowledge. If you don’t know what your own inner biases are, you cannot overcome them. Mobley’s school was one “big mirror”.

6. Creative people give themselves permission, and others, TO BE WRONG.   Fail fast to succeed early, is the principle. There are no bad ideas, only building blocks to good ideas, as Edison believes and practiced.

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