I’m still making sense of the mind explosion that was my first week at THNK.
The School for Creative Leadership in Amsterdam is designed ’to develop the next generation of creative leaders that will have a significant societal impact in our world’.
While I try and work it all out, here are 10 things I know I know, after my week in Amsterdam;
- There is a whole world of super thinkers out there. My inspiring classmates are from Saudi Arabia to Taipei. Israel to Nigeria. San Francisco to Amsterdam. It has blown open my world to hear their views and experiences and I can’t wait to hear more.
- I can reframe my assumptions. We were taught an awesome exercise designed to transform your thinking. I was surprised how much I could genuinely change my perspective by forcing myself to write down beliefs opposite to my own and find a new narrative that pulled these ideas together.
- Gentle leaders are my heroes. We had a wonderful forum session with legendary architect and THNK advisory board member Ben van Berkel. I was struck by the depth and the breadth of his thinking and by just how humble and committed to being a ‘public servant’ he was.
- ‘You can now print a house’ said my classmate Tim at lunch. I nearly choked. It turns out its true.
- What Socratic dialogue is. We were taught the principles by THNK philosopher Karim Benammar, using the core question ‘what makes a Creative Leader’. What I love is the slow reflective nature of this discussion style. You take turns to speak, summarising what the last person has said and the conversation gets deeper and deeper.
- I’m still capable of feeling very much out of my comfort zone. It turns out walking through the mud in northern Holland with 30 people I’ve never met before will do it. Standing in a circle, silent, while people write down feedback about how you’re coming across, will also do it. As will working from 8am till 10.30pm every day for a week.
- Classical music can tell the story of inner transformation. I was totally inspired by a moving session with violinist Miha Pogačnik who showed us how a piece of Bach could track a person’s inner transformation as they shift from one set of beliefs to another. He based it on Theory-U which The Lab process was designed around in its early days. As he says ‘The linear and rational must fuse with inspiration, beauty and passion for change to be implemented.’ There were tears.
- The lessons of learning remain the same. We visited an inspiring high school, UNIC in Utrecht to get a feel for the education system in Amsterdam. Learning: What works for the kids, works for the adults in The Finance Innovation Lab community! They learn when you give them freedom to tap into their intrinsic motivation and the responsibility to practice. When they are given the chance to collaborate and reflect alone. And importantly, when they can have fun and are not lectured to death.
- The power of tracking your personal development. The team at THNK believe there are a few core characteristics of a Creative Leader. We’ve all had 360 degree feedback on our starting point and individual coaches to help track us and build the bits we need to work on. I love the idea of being held to account for developing a targeted set of skills.
- Other people believe we need culture that creates change. THNK say in their prospectus; ‘This isn’t just about generating ideas. It’s also about making it happen’, which is exactly what I think is needed. As I said in my previous blog ‘We can’t accelerate behaviour change, until we create the spaces and projects in which people can practice.’ It’s so great to be in one of them.
As THNK founding participant Roshan Paul said in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, ‘This is what higher education should look like’.