Me and Why I’m Blogging

In this, my first blog post, I thought I would cover a few salient points such as:

– Who I am, my background etc.
– Why this blog
– Who (or what) an Alterativus is

…and so forth.

So, to start, a little about me. My name is Martin Smith. I guess you could accuse me having led a double life! I have had a long and varied business career in a range of consulting and management roles – and, in parallel, I have been involved in the creative and performing arts as, variously, an actor, director, writer, musician, singer and composer.

Now, I don’t claim to be unique in this respect. Over the years, I have encountered several people working in organisations who also happen to be talented writers, artists, musicians, actors and so forth. However, most of them have tended to keep their business and creative lives clearly segregated. For much of my life I was the same. However, I like the perspective that this duality gives me. I am intrigued by the nature of artistic creativity and the lessons that be learned that can advise and improve creativity in organisations. While studying for my MBA I became particularly enthralled by the subject of creativity and how it could be harnessed in business. I began to formulate my own ideas and models and started a small consulting business dedicated to helping people in organisations to be more creative. I started to fuse techniques and approaches I had learned in the world of performing arts with “traditional” creative problem solving techniques.

It concerns me, that in a time when organisations face enormous, disruptive change – and the need for them to think, plan and act creatively has never been greater – most seem determined to minimise the extent to which people can display independent and original thought and expression. Don’t get me wrong, there is clearly a need for organisations to be efficient and consistent in much of what they do. I am not for one moment suggesting that business processes, standards, performance indicators etc. are inherently bad things. However, over-emphasis, and over-dependence on the path of efficiency limits the capacity for creativity – and inhibits agility, innovation and the capacity to deal with disruptive change.

All people, whether they realise it or not, possess massive creative potential. Many of us only use a tiny part of that creativity. More still keep their creative tendencies firmly compartmentalised away from the world of work. Allowing some of that creative energy into the workplace and harnessing it can yield huge benefits for the organisation and for the individual.

Initially, I focused on how set-piece creative events such as brainstorm sessions and workshops could be energised and made more productive – how more and better ideas could be generated. However, I soon began to consider how teams and their leaders needed to behave in order to be more inherently creative.

In this blog, I hope to share some observations, ideas, approaches, insights and so forth around creativity, learning, organisational change, innovation and other things that take my fancy. Thus, I hope to make my own small contribution to the organisational world being a more creative, energetic, enthusiastic, enjoyable and ultimately “human” place.

Finally, you are probably still wondering, “What is an Alterativus?”. Well, in a bid to help my fledgling consultancy stand out from the crowd – and perhaps due to my own predilections for the quirky and humorous – I invented an imaginary creature, the Alterativus. The Alterativus had 3 “eyes”, imagination, inspiration and innovation (clever, huh?). The idea was that this “spirit of creativity” had once been abundant in organisations but was now increasingly rare – driven to margins by arid, unimaginative, corporate thinking.

So, in a way, this blog is my attempt try and breath life back into the Alterativus so they might perhaps one day become a common and welcome sight!


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