Creative Interchange as Paradigm

 An important element in Wieman’s view on Creative Interchange is the distinction between “created good” and “Creative Good.” Created good is all that is the result of past operation of Creative Good (i.e. Creative Interchange): objects, ideas, actions and alike. Creative Good or Creative Interchange is that process by which we move beyond currently existing created goods toward a deeper insight and moral commitment. I have edited the following for gender neutral language, of which I am sure Wieman would approve.

“All the indications of maturity sum up to the first of them:  Putting one’s selfand all that one can command under the supreme control of what generates allvalue and not under the supreme control of any good that has, to date, beencreated in existence or envisioned in the mind.  Mature people find their ultimatesecurity and stability not in any created good and not in any vision of ideal possibilities but solely in that creativity which transforms the mind of the individual, the world relative to their mind, and all their community with other people…Thus, to reject every basis for ultimate security and stability other than the creative process itself is to meet the final test of maturity.”[i]

Thus Wieman called for – half a century ago (!) – leaving the old Command & Control paradigm, with its illusions ‘security’ and ‘stability’, and to choose for the new Creative Interchange paradigm. Creative Interchange – that can be lived from within but not controlled – is the creative process that will lead to a new Mindset, where embracing ambiguity and trusting the process are the new security and stability.

For Wieman Creative Interchange encourages people to sacrifice existing created good for the sake of newly emerging good. The Creative Interchange beliefs and practices encourage openness to and trust in transformation and the letting go of the present order of the self and society. In other words, people who live Creative Interchange from within are open to being changed by a power greater than themselves; a power that transforms human life in ways that could not be planned or controlled. Creative Interchange may lessen the hold of fear and desire, diminish the tendency to cling to the present beliefs, suppositions and mental model and inculcate trust in the process of growth and transformation. Creative Interchange is the answer to W. Edwards Deming ‘s command: Drive Out Fear (point #8 of Deming’s Way ‘Out of the Crisis’)[ii].

For Wieman, the greatest barrier to emergence of the new is the convulsive clinging to present beliefs, values, and habits giving them the loyalty and commitment that should be given to the Creative Good. Wieman’s central theme is self-commitment to growth and transformation through Creative Interchange. The Creative Interchange process transforms human life toward the Greatest Human Good.[iii]

Creative Interchange changes the mind in ways that the mind cannot do this by itself. The challenge of life is not to realize goods that we can now imagine but to undergo a change in consciousness in which there will arise possibilities of value that we cannot imagine on basis of our present awareness. This transformation of the mindset cannot be imagined before it arises and therefor cannot be planned or controlled, neither from the outside nor from the inside. One must cultivate a willingness to set aside present held values and open oneself to a creativity that leads the mind toward a wider awareness and a new consciousness. The human task is not to contrive a better form of living based on present understanding but rather to set the conditions under which creative interchange may operate to expand our awareness. The good of human life increases, as the mind becomes a more richly interconnected network of meanings.

Creative Interchange is a Paradigm since it needs a ‘Shift of Mind’ in order to see ‘the world anew’. The essence of the discipline Creative Interchange lies in a mind shift:

  • Embracing interdependence rather than dependence or independence;
  • Living the process of transformation rather than the process that leads to personal stress and organizational mediocrity.

 

The conditions for Creative Interchange to thrive

The concept of creative interchange makes it possible to study the conditions necessary for the occurrence of creative transformation toward greater good. Wieman started this study and found that the conditions for creative communication, the first characteristic of Creative Interchange, include honesty and authenticity in expressing our particular way of seeing reality. He also found that those involved in Creative Interchange must not cling to or insist upon the keeping of their present patterns of interpretation. In other words, they must not cling to their ‘truth’. Not only one must be open to express ‘his truth’, one must be open this ‘truth’ being changed by new insights. Not only one has to trust the other involved in Creative Interchange, one has the have trust in the process of creative transformation.

Charlie Palmgren took the challenge of continuing the search for the conditions necessary for Creative Interchange to thrive. His first contribution was to make the barriers within ourselves to Creative Interchange visible by discovering the counter productive process: the Vicious Circle. The Vicious Circle is Palmgren’s view of how humans become disconnected from their innate Worth. He believes that human worth is the capacity to participate in transforming creativity. Worth is innate! Worth is the innate need for creative transformation. He drives home his point clearly:

“Our need for creative transformation is to our psychological and spiritual survival what oxygen, water, food, exercise, and sleep are to physical well-being.”[iv]

Charlie helped me to understand that Creative Interchange (CI) is innate and the Vicious Circle (VC) is induced by conditioning, parenting and education. Both are processes that are more or less a reality in every one’s life. If the one is operating at full speed the other is slowed down. Thanks to my daughter, Daphne, I use following ‘gear’ metaphor:

If more energy is given to Creative Interchange the (right) CI gear drives the (left) VC gear anti-clockwise till one is re-connected with his Worth and thus with his capacity to participate in transforming creativity. The more you live Creative Interchange from within, the more you recognize your Worth and the more you are able to live Creative Interchange from within. This is a reinforcing process towards the Greatest Good.

If more energy is given to the Vicious Circle the VC gear drives the CI gear anti-clockwise till one is not expressing himself authentically any more and loses his capacity to participate in transforming creativity. This is in fact (another) reinforcing process that Peter Senge in his bestseller ‘The Fifth Discipline’ not surprisingly calls the ‘Vicious Cycle’ [v] towards the defending of the actual created good and thus resistance to transforming creativity or Creative Good.

 

Creative Interchange is a kind of dialogue

This dialogue begins with the candid expression (communication) by the ‘sender’ of one’s unique, personal perspective, which goes beyond the superficiality of much conversation. This perspective needs to be expressed without the desire to impress or to manipulate the other. Since those elicit a defensive or rejecting response.

The ‘receiver’ of the message must be free of self-preoccupation and not project interpretations or feelings onto what is said. In addition, the receiver does not cling to the present state of self (the ‘created self’) and is open to change, to transformation. He understands the message appreciatively (appreciation). The Authentic Interaction and Appreciative Understanding characteristics of the Creative Interchange process create in this dialogue a new insight and a new common meaning.

This new meaning or insight is then integrated into the mind, and this addition of a new perspective or pattern of interpretation leads to a novel mind (imagination) and if sustained through action (transformation) the process creates a new enlarged mindset which increases what the sender and receiver can know, feel, imagine and control.

In his poem ‘Revelation’[vi] Robert Frost talks about people that don’t live Creative Interchange being stuck in their Vicious Circle:

We make ourselves a place apart
Behind light words that tease and flout,
But oh, the agitated heart
Till someone find us really out.

‘Tis pity if the case require
(Or so we say) that in the end
We speak the literal to inspire
The understanding of a friend.

But so with all, from babes that play
At hide-and-seek to God afar,
So all who hide too well away
Must speak and tell us where they are.

Let’s analyze this poem:

Frost paints the picture that people who don’t interact authentically who they really are disguise their true image with lies or “light words that tease”. This far from authentic interaction (communication) tend to decieve, or tease. He goes on to say that “But, oh, the agitated hear, till someone really finds us out.” In this phrase he is basically saying, people tend to believe your story, they appreciatively understand (appreciation) it, … until they find out otherwise through other facts. If that’s the case, the liar mostly loses alot of respect.

In the second stanza, Frost also says, “We speak the literal to inspire, the understanding of a friend.” This further defines Frost’s point of lying to make some one think that you are something you are not.

But after all of the deception and lying, in the end of the poem, Frost wants to the reader to “see the light”. He says, “So all who hide to well away, must speak and tell us where they are.”

Frost’s message is, don’t make it seem like you are something you’re not. Just be you. The real you, the Original Self or Creative Self (the one who “hides too well away”) must come out in Authentic Interaction. The created self must stop lying, and speak form the Original or creative self. In Frost’s words: the “inner you” must speak and tell us where he or she is.

So genuine dialogue the Creative Interchange way starts with Authentic Interaction, which I’ve called in my book ‘Cruciale dialogen’[vii] Communication. The second phase is Appreciation of what’s being said. In dialogue we form a ‘common meaning’ about the question, the topic at hand. And from this place the right part of the model leads to action: Imagination, choice and Transformation.


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[i] Henry Nelson Wieman, The Source of Human Good, Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 1964 (2nd printing 1967), p. 101.

[ii] W. Edwards Deming, Out of the Crisis, Cambridge, Mass. MIT, Center of Advanced Engineering Study, 1983.

[iii] Johan Roels, Creative Interchange and the Greatest Human Good, https://www.slideshare.net/johanroels33/essay-creative-interchange-and-the-greatest-human-good

[iv] Stacie Hagan and Charlie Palmgren, The Chicken Conspiracy: Breaking The Cycle of Personal Stress and Organizational Mediocrity. Baltimore, MA: Recovery Communications, Inc. 1998. p. 21.

[v] Peter M. Senge, The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of the Learning Organization. New York NY: A Currency Book, Doubleday, a division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc. 1990. p. 81.

[vi] Robert Frost, A boy’s will. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1915. Poem #21.

[vii] Roels Johan, Cruciale dialogen. Het dagelijks beleven van ‘creatieve wisselwerking’. Antwerpen-Apeldoorn: Garant, 2012.

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