Behavior Supersedes Belief

Even though I was not able to attend the Planning-ness conference earlier this month, I’ve been able to collect what seemed to be the highlights through social media. There were, of course, the real-time tweets coming from the conference as it happened. There were also multiple Planning-ness presentations made available online once the conferences had concluded. Finally, numerous blog posts were written that either summarized the main themes of Planning-ness or focused on a particular area of interest. One of the best write-ups I came across that focused on a particular area of interest was from PSFK, a New York-based trends research and innovation company.

PSFK's "How Companies Can Design a Culture of Creativity"

It outlines the highlights of a presentation given by James Shuttleworth, Draftfcb Chicago’s Chief Strategy Officer. He argued large companies are unable to generate creativity organically and have to design for it. Shuttleworth gave the statement further context by talking about how planners can strive in large advertising agencies. This is a great example of providing clarity to his main points, but I feel like this is a much broader issue that spans across any large organization.

As Shuttleworth discusses in his write up, there are a few different ways companies can design themselves to foster creativity. He talked about how companies should embrace ambiguity, take insights into action and think as a circulatory system. However, in my opinion, the one he states last stands out as the most important. The idea that “behavior supersedes belief.” In order to do this, an organization needs to understand its collective vision. I would add to this by saying “collective vision” should not mean a mission solely defined by a company’s leadership that’s expected to be carried out by its employees. The foundational structure of a collective vision starts by finding common themes across key areas within a company and surfacing them into an insightful collective vision that encourages participation from the bottom up. Related to this, Shuttleworth states, “A collective vision is created and understood only after people behave in a particular way. Once they do it, they learn it and finally feel it.” To me, it’s the learning it and feeling it parts that get to the core of what we mean when we use clichés like mission, vision or culture. By creating an environment that allows employees to learn and feel, they will naturally become more comfortable expressing themselves in creative ways that support a collective vision.