Think Wrong to see what is possible together

Creative leadership from Standard Bank and the Water Research Commission sees a ground-breaking collaboration.

When the Creative Leadership Collective was formed by the Founding Friends in 2017, part of our vision was to create a collaborative ecosystem of forward-thinking leaders who would share and work together to not only improve their individual, non-competing organisations but, and maybe ambitiously, to benefit South Africa as a whole.

At the start of August we saw the seeds of what is possible together take root when two of our Founding Friends, the Water Research Commission (WRC) and Standard Bank, worked together in an creative problem-solving session, The Water Ecosystem and Sustainability Blitz.

Targeting senior stakeholders and guardians of the water ecosystem in South Africa, the session was led by Andrew Legat, a Think Wrong facilitator who introduced the group to this new methodology, designed and developed by Future Partners in Silicon Valley.

Head of New Business Innovation, CIB Digital at Standard Bank and Founding Friend of the CLC Sean Doherty says: ‘We wanted to share with the WRC and the water sector the method we’ve used to great success at Standard Bank and, with a bit of luck, to come up with some practical solutions to what is a very big and important problem facing South Africa.’

The result was nothing short of magical

Knowing that diversity of perspective and thought feeds innovation, and to share new methods in creative problem solving, WRC and Standard Bank also extended an invitation to all CLC members to participate and experience the day’s workshop.

The result was nothing short of magical. The Think Wrong process lead delegates through an intense problem-solving methodology by working in immersive and energetic ways.

‘The facilitation was perfect and allowed us to completely forget constraints and silos in the development of solutions and really moved us into a collaborative co-creation space,’ says Dr Valerie Naidoo, WRC Executive Manager of Business Development and Innovations SA and CLC Founding Friend.

At the end of the day, five multidisciplinary teams presented five real-world, implementable solutions.

‘What we came out with was very bold, and if we can transcribe even a little bit it’ll make a big difference,’ says Valerie. ‘It’s definitely a conversation we’ll be looking to take to the broader water sector.’

The skilful facilitation and positive input from both stakeholders and non-stakeholders alike made for a powerful and energetic session of creative problem solving.

Says Sean: ‘Although the methodology is designed to facilitate diverse input and to take hierarchy and dissenting voices out of the room, what really made a difference was that everyone who was there had put their hands up for this. These are the sorts of people wanting to make a difference and wanting to try something different to make a difference.’

‘These are the sorts of people wanting to make a difference’

Non-competing member organisations who were part of the creative problem-solving process were visibly inspired by the day’s events.

‘This is definitely something to take back to our hub,’ says Inge Rickhoff of Liberty. ‘It’s really emphasised for me that the future of business is the collaboration between organisations, leveraging off each other, partnering with each other to come up with solutions.’

Hein Weyers, COO of PMI and CLC Founding Friend, wrapped up the organisations thoughts perfectly: ‘It was really good to see the creative leadership collective in action. We watched Sean and his team sharing – really giving into the centre – and I think if we can stimulate that in and around an organisation like the Creative Leadership Collective it can really take us all forward.

‘It’s a really progressive way of doing business and I think with more of this we’ll see the ripple effect throughout corporate South Africa.’

Speaking to the effectiveness of this creative problem solving process, Andrew says: ‘Large organisations have similar challenges in creating an environment where it’s safe to have bold, non-status-quo ideas. But a purposeful approach focused on fostering a sense of safety and fun has the potential to overcome these challenges.’

CLC founder and facilitator Paul Steenkamp who was also there says that it was exciting to see the collective developing a life of its own. ‘It was really wonderful to see real collaboration and experience the generosity of spirit that was at work here. In almost all cases it has been a leap of faith that people have been willing to take and I’m thrilled to watch the magic unfold like this.’

The Creative Leadership Collective would like to thank the team at Standard Bank for generously offering their time and skills to benefiting not only the WRC but also the CLC members who participated in this session.

Special thanks must also go to Bianca Bosch for being the driving force behind this.

We look so forward to seeing more of these exciting and powerful collaborations in future.

More information about the event …