Encouraging creativity in your people

By John C. Maxwell Philippine Daily Inquirer First Posted 21:03:00 02/23/2008

Ideas are an organization’s greatest asset. People are an organization’s only appreciable asset. But creative people are an organization’s most needed asset. How many creative people do you have around you? The future of your organization will be determined by your people’s creativity. Alexander Whitson said, “One of the most pressing problems of our country today is the urgent need for new creative talent. It is not enough that we train more engineers, scientists, or mathematicians; what is demanded is more creative individuals.” As a leader, do you provide an environment that encourages original ideas and enterprising solutions among your people? To ensure that you are taking full advantage of your people’s creativity, follow these four guidelines: 1. Be willing to absorb risks taken by your people. Stanley Gill said, “Most executives agree that creativity is the most profit-producing possession their company has, and many wish they had more, but very few are doing much about it. As one executive candidly explained, ‘Sure, I’d like to have creative people around me if I didn’t have to put up with all the inconveniences they cause.’” Leaders who encourage creativity allow their people freedom to express themselves, expect some errors to be made, and are willing and able to absorb failures. 2. Be willing to stretch the rule book. Leaders who promote creativity among their people don’t disregard guidelines and policies, but they inherently know when they need to be challenged, and they can see when a more flexible approach should be taken. David Kelley, founder of IDEO Product Development said, “The most important thing I have learned from big companies is that creativity gets stifled when everyone’s got to follow the rules.” 3. Be comfortable with half-developed ideas. Charlie Brower said, “A new idea is delicate. It can be killed by a sneer or a yawn: It can be stabbed to death by a quip and worried to death by a frown on the right man’s brow.” Handle the ideas of your people carefully. Consider each one as the next great idea that could revolutionize your organization. If an idea is half-developed but has potential, pass it to the people in your organization who are proven process thinkers and implementers. 4. Be creative yourself. American physicist Tom Hirschfield once said, “If you don’t ask ‘Why this?’ often enough, somebody will ask, ‘Why you?’” It’s a forgone conclusion that as the leader you must exhibit the same creativity in your ideas, decisions, and solutions that you expect in your people. It’s one thing to foster an environment for creativity in your organization. It’s another to do so in your own life. Sometimes giving your people permission to be creative is not enough. But showing them creativity will inspire them to maximize their creative potential. Former President John Quincy Adams wisely commented, “Let us consider an alternative style of thinking, which we can call ‘creative thinking.’ It is playfully instructive to note that word ‘reactive’ and the word ‘creative’ are made up of exactly the same letters. The only difference between the two is that you ‘C’ (see) differently.” Don’t let another day pass until you have taken the proper steps to ensure that your people are creating more and reacting less.

“Nothing is ever accomplished by a reasonable man.” -- American Proverb *** (For information on John Maxwell’s in-house or public leadership or teamwork workshops, please e-mail us at bingericta@gmail.com or call 813-2049/2732 and ask for Bing Ericta. Text MAXWELL ON to 4632 (Smart) to get daily SMS leadership insights from John Maxwell

Painters show stories of survival, power
By Lina Sagaral Reyes Mindanao Bureau First Posted 22:38:00 02/23/2008

THE WORD BALUGTO in Talaandig means rainbow but ironically even after Marcelino Necosia had renamed himself Balugto in an effort to affirm his tribal roots, his oeuvre’s palette didn’t get a dash of the ephemeral skybridge’s varied hues. Instead Balugto’s colors are a monochrome of earth tones—rich browns to fiery oranges to dark reds. Balugto, 22, is one of the six resident painters here who belong to the Talaandig tribe and whose works are exhibited at the Museo de Oro, the repository of Mindanao folklore at the Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro until July this year. Instead of expensive synthetic paints, all the six visual artists use earth pigments, the soil which is readily available, free material right under their feet in the tribal community of Songco on the foothills of Mt. Kitanglad, about 50 kilometers away from Malaybalay City. Dubbed “Yuta,” meaning “land, ground, soil” in Binisaya as well as Talaandig, the exhibit features large works of, literally, soil on canvas, by Balugto as well as Rodelio “Waway” Saway Sr., Junathan “Sultan” Cruz, Soliman Poonon, Marlon “Tambuloy” Necosia and Raul Bendit. The exhibit is a landmark of sorts for both the Talaandig as well as the Museo. For the first time painters of indigenous descent are working together for several months to produce works based on the mythologies of their forbears. Thus the visual narratives are actually a new form of storytelling. Among the Talaandig, stories are passed on as oral tradition either as chants and songs or as gestures of dance. The painters say this is their way of giving back to their community, preserving and developing their culture. For the Museo, it is the first time that illustrations of folk traditions are done by indigenous people themselves. Before this, the institution, founded in the 1970s, showed folk life of Mindanao’s tribes with visual interpretations done by Nonoy Estarte, its resident artist, who now curates this show. “Yuta” thus is the fruition of decades-old nurturing of craft among this generation of Talaandig artisans and crafters. The five look up to Saway, 39, as their mentor. They even grant him the title Master Jedi, after the character of a sage in the epic film trilogy, “Star Wars.” They also acknowledge lessons and advice the learned from lowlander artists like Errol Balcos and Tating Soliva. It has been 10 years since Saway’s first painting of an earthen jar using Songco’s clayey soil was among those in a survey exhibit of artworks by Mindanaoan visual artists. It was Estarte, who led the art festival’s host, Cagayan de Oro Art Guild then, who pushed for the inclusion of

Saway’s work. Since then, Saway had painted, using soil as medium, and relayed the love-for-this-earth-based art among the young in workshops right in Songco. “I saw the arts as a viable path in which these youngsters can go back to the ancient good ways of the tribe,” said Waway. “Otherwise, they would have all drowned in vices when they dropped out of school,” he said. Waway and company gather soils from different parts of their village as well as in other parts of Mindanao, from Camiguin, Iligan and Davao. These soil pigments are filtered and sifted and then mixed with transparent glue. The painters use the common paintbrush to apply the soil-glue blend on canvas. On the suggestion of Kublai, a painter from Davao, they apply acrylic emulsion on their work to give it a certain luster that earth colors lack. Despite using the same material prepared in the same process, each has developed his own signature style and palettes. “We don’t share styles. Instead we influence each other’s concepts and ideas,” says Sultan, whose works feature land like sinuous human bodies, with trees growing from abundant hair. “We agree on the ideas and comment on each other’s work. Yet we still allow each one to do something for himself alone, what satisfies his individual cravings,” said Waway. Waway’s work are abstracted human figures in a tableau framing the narrative of the seven altars, the last step towards the immortality of the folk leaders. Soliman’s works highlight the adventures of Agyu and Bataay whose powers include flying on air astride a shield and a winnowing basket. Balugto’s and Bendit’s works may yet herald the subtle shift of attitude towards women as tribal heroes in a still largely patriarchal community as well as a breaking away from gender stereotypes. In their frames, women are recast from mere passive faces and figures to be ogled into heroes of survival and power. Balugto’s “Bai Ginamayong dawsa lenep” (Bai Ginamayong during the big flood) illustrates the travails of Bai Ginamayong, a folk hero, as she clings for dear life on a drum during a great flood while Bendit’s shows “Anac,” another folk character in Ulaging, the creation myth, playing the “pulala,” the long nose bamboo flute, floating on a leaf. “It is how I imagined our tribe’s version of ‘rapture’, floating away, and since I don’t know how to visualize rapture, I use the leaf as the seat on which Anac takes flight,” says Bendit, appraising his own work’s coarse spontaneity. According to Bendit, like the Christian version, rapture is a state in which a human being goes to heaven without dying, a form of immortality. In Bendit’s work, Anac is said to have thrown her flute back to earth and it became a species of bamboo good for making musical instruments. When asked why both had chosen to portray strong women as heroes, Bendit quickly replies: “Because we are disgrasyados.” Disgrasyados, what? Bendit explained it is a play on the term, disgrasyada, and we somehow get the drift. Literally, disgrasyada means “the victim of an accident,” a term coined from the Spanish to mean a woman who begets a child out of wedlock. “Our woman left us,” confess Balugto and Bendit, forsaken young lovers and fathers, on their faces the looks between a grin and a grimace.

The use of earth pigments is not unique. In several parts of the world, it is part of a global emergence of organic arts created from non-toxic, organic materials. And, of course, thousands-years-old stick figures on cave walls in Mexico and France dated even before the Australian Aborigines chew and blow ocher on rocks, for instance, show that human beings first use soil to tell their stories in the shadows cast probably by camp fire. The tribe The Talaandig, a sub-tribe of the Banwaon tribe, are basically gentle people and live freely in communities in the forests at the boundaries of Agusan del Sur and Bukidnon. They depend mainly on farming and hunting for livelihood. They also sell honey to lowlanders or barter their handicrafts to other tribal communities.

Copyright 2008 Mindanao Bureau. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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