What is your creative process?
Thomas A. Stewart is the Chief Marketing and Knowledge Officer (CMKO) of the global management consulting firm Booz & Company. Stewart most recently served as editor and managing director of Harvard Business Review, and is a best-selling author, an authority on intellectual capital and knowledge management, and an influential thought leader on global management issues and ideas.
During Stewart’s six years with Harvard Business Review, the magazine was a two-time finalist for general excellence in the National Magazine Awards, and received an “Eddie” in 2007 from Folio Magazine.
Previously, Stewart served as the editorial director for Business 2.0 and as a member of Fortune’s Board of Editors. He is the author of two books, Intellectual Capital: The New Wealth of Organizations, and The Wealth of Knowledge: Intellectual Capital and the 21st Century Organization, published by Doubleday Business in 1998 and 2003, respectively.
Stewart is a fellow of the World Economic Forum. He is a summa cum laude graduate of Harvard College, and holds an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Cass School of Business at City University, London.
Question: What's your creative process?
Tom Stewart: I once was doing an article that I was doing in Fortune magazine. I did an article about power. I actually did two of them about power in corporations. And I got very interested in psychological testing and how … and because there was a fad. This was, I can’t remember, seven or eight years ago. There was a fad for giving psychological tests to people before they got promoted . . . Meyers-Briggs tests, but also other kinds of tests. I also was intrigued because back in the 1950s, there was a fad for aptitude tests. And in fact it was concern with the aptitude test fads that got … to start writing the book that became the organization of the articles for Fortune … became the organization. And included in that book was a chapter on how to cheat on aptitude tests – how to take them and how to cheat on them. So I got interested in the personality tests, and I went to a psychologist friend and I said, “Would you teach me how to cheat on psychology tests?” And she said, “No, I can’t. I’m not allowed. There are professional standards. But I’ll give you one. I’ll give you the battery that I give.” Because she does executive coaching and so on and so on. So she gave me this battery of tests and gave me the feedback. And out of it … and of course I tried to cheat … and I … But out of it I got some interesting feedback in which she said that … that she was intrigued by the way that my mind worked. Because she found that … that my mind worked in a way that not too many other people in her experience … experience did. Which … which is it made all kinds of connections to things in strange ways. I would, you know … I’d leap from A to Z to M to L to P, and I’d pull in things from … from a whole lot of sources and sort of dance around topics until I’d get it right. And if I get passionate about an idea, I swarm it. I overdo it. I kill it. You know I … I just go all over it until I think I understand it. Or until … or until I’m bored and I go somewhere else. So it’s that kind of … There’s not an orderly process. It’s a fairly physical process. I mean, there’s a … I … I squirm a lot around in my chair when I’m excited by an idea, or I start talking to people. I wanna run it by them. So it … it’s kind of a noisy … a noisy process of seeing connections and getting excited by them.
Recorded on: 6/22/07
Tom Stewart's creative process is far from orderly.
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If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx a team of DNA sequencers has figured that out.
- A team at UMass Amherst recently sequenced the genome of the Canadian lynx.
- It's part of a project intending to sequence the genome of every vertebrate in the world.
- Conservationists interested in the Canadian lynx have a new tool to work with.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx, I can now—as of this month—point you directly to the DNA of a Canadian lynx, and say, "That's what makes a lynx a lynx." The genome was sequenced by a team at UMass Amherst, and it's one of 15 animals whose genomes have been sequenced by the Vertebrate Genomes Project, whose stated goal is to sequence the genome of all 66,000 vertebrate species in the world.
Sequencing the genome of a particular species of an animal is important in terms of preserving genetic diversity. Future generations don't necessarily have to worry about our memory of the Canadian Lynx warping the way hearsay warped perception a long time ago.
Artwork: Guillaume le Clerc / Wikimedia Commons
13th-century fantastical depiction of an elephant.
It is easy to see how one can look at 66,000 genomic sequences stored away as being the analogous equivalent of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a potential tool for future conservationists.
But what are the practicalities of sequencing the genome of a lynx beyond engaging with broad bioethical questions? As the animal's habitat shrinks and Earth warms, the Canadian lynx is demonstrating less genetic diversity. Cross-breeding with bobcats in some portions of the lynx's habitat also represents a challenge to the lynx's genetic makeup. The two themselves are also linked: warming climates could drive Canadian lynxes to cross-breed with bobcats.
John Organ, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife units, said to MassLive that the results of the sequencing "can help us look at land conservation strategies to help maintain lynx on the landscape."
What does DNA have to do with land conservation strategies? Consider the fact that the food found in a landscape, the toxins found in a landscape, or the exposure to drugs can have an impact on genetic activity. That potential change can be transmitted down the generative line. If you know exactly how a lynx's DNA is impacted by something, then the environment they occupy can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of the lynx and any other creature that happens to inhabit that particular portion of the earth.
Given that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing protection for the Canadian lynx, a move that caught scientists by surprise, it is worth having as much information on hand as possible for those who have an interest in preserving the health of this creature—all the way down to the building blocks of a lynx's life.
The exploding popularity of the keto diet puts a less used veggie into the spotlight.
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