[Podcast] Earbud_U, Season Three, SPECIAL EDITION – David Burkus, Author of Under New Management, Associate Professor at Oral Roberts University, Podcast Host of Radio Free Leader, Owner of the Hottest Website on Leadership Right Now!
I’ve interviewed book authors before on the podcast, but never any as prestigious—or as accomplished—as this one.
David Burkus is the author of the 2013 book The Myths of Creativity: The Truth About How Innovative Companies and People Generate Great Ideas. He has a new book out this month, Under New Management: How Leading Organizations Are Upending Business as Usual.
He is Associate Professor of Management at Oral Roberts University where he teaches courses on creativity, entrepreneurship, and organizational behavior. He is also the founder and host of Radio Free Leader, a podcast on leadership, innovation, and strategy.
There are myths that drive us. Myths from the past that create stories that we still tell to our children. There are myths that we tell to other adults, huddled together around the flickering glow of the movie screen—or smart phone screen these days—that drive us to tell more stories.
There are myths that we tell each other to drive each other to greatness, to warn each other of dangers, and to keep each other in line.
Look, David, wrote an entire book about those last myths. The ones that we tell to keep each other in line. The myths that leaders tell their followers and constituents to drive them to produce more, be more, and do more.
Myths also trap organizations and leaders in false modes of thinking and doing, and gain repetitive power over time, becoming something else in the long run.
There are myths around creativity, there are myths around leadership, and there are myths around progress. All of these myths, David will address today. But I always think of the old Western, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.
In the film that was once lauded by Woody Allen as one of the greatest films in American cinematic history, law abiding Ransom Stoddard (Jimmy Stewart) goes out to shoot the bad man, Liberty Valence, (Lee Marvin) in a duel that can only occur when law and order fail in the face of evil.
Except, Ransom can’t shoot worth a damn and he doesn’t take out Liberty.
And at the climactic moment of truth, Tom Doniphon (John Wayne) shoots Liberty from the shadows, thus ending his reign of terror over the town and ensuring the rise of civilization and law and order.
It’s a great film but what’s the point of bringing it up?
Well, the titular line at the end—from the mouth of a newspaper editor—has come down in American cultural history: “This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”
How many legends of creativity that that have stuck in your organization—be it a church, a workplace, a nonprofit, a school—have become truth, long after the facts of how creativity happens have been misremembered.
What shifts a creativity story down the line to creativity legend all the way to a creativity myth, is the old schoolyard game, Whisper Down the Lane.
When the story of creativity, which is personal and meaningful, becomes calcified into legend, which is impersonal and dogmatic, no amount of training is going to change the creativity culture.
And then the legend gets printed, over and over again, gradually becoming operating myth, which becomes codified in the worst phrase possible in an organization that OD folks here, corporate trainers hear, and even employees hear…
“Well, we’ve always done it this way.”
David will unravel all of that when it comes to creativity and talk about his new book, Under New Management on the podcast today.
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