BTOES Insights Official
April 18, 2020

BTOES - SPEAKER SPOTLIGHT: Unlock the Secrets of Creative Thinking.

Courtesy of Advent Health Innovation Lab, Andy Tilstra a synopsis of his speaking session discussing Creative Passion.

output-onlinepngtools (13)

Ignite Your Creative Potential with the Secret Sauce of Creativity Karen Tilstra, PhD

Creativity is the salvation of us all. Don’t believe me? I don’t blame you. I couldn’t have just said that if not for that one hot August afternoon in Chicago back in 2007. I had an encounter with one of the world’s more creative people that changed the way I looked at humanity forever. There I was sitting on the top back row of the Chicago Convention center listening to Dewitt Jones, National Geographic photographer. He held all 16,000 of us spellbound by his tales of photographing the world from Alaska to Zanzibar. Balancing on a tree branch waiting for the perfect lion shot. Crouching in a canoe, legs fast asleep, on an African river knowing a hippopotamus would emerge any moment. “I never noticed the pain.” He said as he continued regaling fantastic stories of bravery, wonder and beauty. “My love for photography drove me forward,” he said. “I have lived a life of creative passion.”

He then paused, and as if knowing the answer, asked the audience, "How many of you would like to live your creative passion, stand up.” In an instant people from all around the stadium jumped to their feet. It was a thundering roar of movement. People looked around as if he had given them a gift. After a few seconds, he said, "Now, how many of you actually live your creative passion? Remain standing." A heartbreaking hush fell over the crowd and people just dropped to their seats.

Maybe there was 10 people standing, maybe 50. We're talking about thousands of people just moments before had jumped to their feet. And now, it was a stadium full of people sitting in silence lost in their own thoughts. What had happened? I believe an unspoken truth became real to each of us in that moment. It was sobering. It was the fact that everyone single one of us in that stadium possessing natural creative talent, and most of us that day that creativity lay dormant and we knew not how to activate it. The loss of potential, happiness and fulfilment overwhelmed me In that moment I knew what I had to do. I stood up and rushed from the stadium. DeWitt spoke on, but I didn’t care. I somehow had to learn what it means to be creative, how to help people tap into this innate gift. A whole stadium of people can’t be wrong.

It was crystal clear to me that moment, every one of us innately knows of this creative passion and is hunting for their own whether we know it or not. A few lucky ones have found it, but for far too many it remains elusive. As an Educational psychologist who’s worked in United States, Asia, and India I’ve learned one thing for sure, we are all the same, possessing a special give to give to the world, and if we fail the world is lost to that gift forever. We are all creative with leadership potential and if given the chance can make the world better with that gift…if we only know how to access this creative potential. The good news is we can through what Michael Ray calls the Magic Sauce of creativity. So why don’t more know about this magic sauce? The grim reality is the world simply isn't in the business of telling you so. Don't believe me? Then consider the results of a longitudinal study on creativity in which researchers asked kindergartners to raise their hands if they thought they were creative. Every single child’s hand shot up. Four years later, researchers asked the same group of children the same question; this time, only half of the fourth graders raised their hands. By the time these students reached their senior year of high school, just two of the them raised their hands when asked the same question—and even they did so apologetically.

What happened? How did a classroom full of energetic students go from believing each of them were creative, to only two of them (nervously) admitting to it? Clearly, somewhere between the time when we’re born and when we become adults, our creativity gets taught out of us. Or at least, creativity gets so radically redefined that we bury it deep within, no longer able to recognize it as a part of us.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Again, we are ALL creative. Or if you like it stated differently, we all have the potential to be creative. Just as important, each of us yearns to be creative. You know it as well as I do: we all become alive when we're creating. Our problem? We've forgotten that WE ARE ALL CREATIVE.

Michael Ray, dubbed the most creative guy in Silicon Valley, taught that we can reawaken our innate creativity through four simple steps. I call it the Secret Sauce of Creativity:

  • Embrace your inner creativity
  • Suspend negative judgment
  • Practice precise observation
  • Ask penetrating questions

It really is that simple! It’s not expensive and you don’t have to learn any big words. I’ve run a Design Thinking lab for the past six years, and I've seen up close and personal how these four mindsets are pure gold. So how can you activate these golden mindsets in your own life, both professionally and personally? Again, it isn’t that hard.

1. Embrace Your Inner Creativity

Admit it already, you're creative! As a human being, your brain is wired for it. You were born that way, so forget what anybody else says. YOU ARE CREATIVE. Say it out loud: “I’M CREATIVE!” If you understood the complexity of your brain, this wouldn’t even be an issue. We take ourselves for granted and underestimate the vast potential that lies within. The next time you find yourself confronted with a problem, challenge or opportunity, take a breath, pause, and say to yourself, “I’m Creative.” Give yourself some space to allow your brain to work its magic . . . and start today. Tell yourself the truth: "I'm creative!"

2. Suspend negative judgment

Adopt a “Yes/And” mindset. “Yes” reminds you to suspend negative judgment, while “And” prompts you to add to whatever’s happening. This is a key step, because typically when we don’t agree with something (or if someone doesn’t agree with us), we shut down, tune out or fight back. A “Yes/And” mindset keeps us in the conversation and creates space for something new to emerge. So, the next time you find yourself facing a challenge, problem or opportunity, try adopting a “Yes/And” mindset. Say, “Yes, that’s good, And we could add this.” Here’s the kicker: a “Yes/And” mindset makes you more popular. Believe it or not, you become the one who ignites creativity in the group!

3. Practice precise observations

How many times every day do you “mis-see” things? The truth would shock you! In fact, we humans “miss-see” all the time—and we like it. We believe we understand what’s happening in front of us, so immediately we assign meaning to it. Really, though, we continue to view the world through the thick prison walls of our own perceptions and assumptions. Creativity is the art of seeing past our own prison walls. It’s the habit of observing a familiar thing from a fresh perspective. Practicing precise observation invites us to first look inward so that we might more clearly see outward. We train our eyes to see what “we” really see. We move past habitual ways of thinking and acting by pausing, breathing and observing with a fresh set of eyes.

4. Ask penetrating questions

The Western world doesn't especially like questions. Have you noticed that? It wants answers. But how can you find the right answers by asking the wrong questions? You can’t, but that’s what we too often try to do. In our rush for answers, we skip right over the real problem. As creative people, however, we don’t have to take this anymore. We are not in the business of giving answers, but rather of asking questions. If you want to make the world better, therefore, then ask better questions. If you want a better life, then ask better questions. You want a better solution? Then ask better questions—and keep in mind that it’s really not as hard as you may think. The next time you face a challenge, problem or opportunity, take a breath, pause, and ask, “What else? What if?" Ask a question of the elephant in the room. You heard me! Address that fear (that elephant). Questions tend to make elephants disappear.

Putting it all together

When you put these four mindsets together, you unlock your inner creativity. While you won’t have all the answers, you will be creating space for creativity to emerge. In the process, you’ll become a sought-out resource, a great conversationalist, and somebody who can infuse energy into any group, inspiring it to change. You can help people move in a new direction or encourage them to be who they really are. You can do a lot through these four simple mindsets, simply by putting them into practice. So, the next time you feel tempted to tell yourself that you’re not creative, Pause, breathe and let the Secret Sauce of Creativity reawaken the creativity that’s been there the entire time.


About the Author


Andy Tilstra,
Chief Information Officer,
Advent Health Innovation Lab


The issues in this article are just one of topic areas that are going to be discussed at the Business Transformation & Operational Excellence World Summit & Industry

BTOES is the industry’s biggest and best, senior-level, cross-industry gathering of Business Transformation & Operational Excellence industry leaders and senior executives.

It also hosts the Business Transformation & Operational Excellence Awardswhich showcase globally the most outstanding organizational achievements through the application of Operational Excellence programs.

The summits hosts a number of private forums for C-Level & Global corporate-level leaders as well as business unit heads.

With over 150 speakers, over 100 sessions, 12 Keynotes, 9 Track Themes, 5 parallel tracks, 60+ track sessions, 50 roundtable discussions, 20 Interactive Workshops, 6 Thought Leader Panels, 5 Leaders Boardrooms, 5 co-located events, the Industry Awards Program, Site Visits, 20+ hours of social networking including 2 gala cocktail parties, dinners, numerous group activities, this is the ultimate event to benchmark, network and drive Operational Excellence to the next level.


Quick Links



BTOES Awards


There is a strong focus on Cultural Transformation, Customer Delight, Sustaining an Operational Excellence program, Need for end-to-end Business Transformation, Keeping up with new technologies/impact of digitalization and Leadership Buy-in & Understanding. We dedicated two tracks to advanced technologies, such as AI, Machine Learning, RPA, Predictive Analytics, Blockchain, Cloud infrastructure etc.

The agenda is designed to encourage active meaningful conversations though all day enhanced networking and interaction opportunities, including

  • All-day Refreshment & Themed Breaks

  • 1¼ Hour Hot Breakfast Networking Sessions

  • 1½ Hour Hot Plated Networking Lunches with Topic & Industry Sector focussed tables

  • 1½ Hour Roundtable Sessions by Topic & Industry Sector.

  • Keynote & Themes Panel Sessions

  • Hosted Welcome Receptions from 5.30pm

  • Expanded more lavish Awards Program

  • Newly launched Night Summit for attendees to meet after dinner

For more information or to discuss the summit in more detail please schedule a call below,

Click here to schedule a call. 

Download the most comprehensive OpEx Resport in the Industry

The Largest Leadership-Level Business Transformation & Operational Excellence Event

The Business Transformation & Operational Excellence Industry Awards Video Presentation

Proqis Events Schedule

Proqis Digital

The Business Transformation & Operational Excellence Industry Awards

Welcome to BTOES Insights, the content portal for Business Transformation & Operational Excellence opinions, reports & news.


Submit an Article

Become a Regular Contributor

Access all 75 Award Finalist Entires
Subscribe to Business Transformation & Operational Excellence Insights Now

Featured Content

  • Best Achievement of Operational Excellence in Technology & Communications: IBM
  • Best Achievement of Operational Excellence in Oil & Gas, Power & Utilities: Black & Veatch
  • Best Achievement in Cultural Transformation to deliver a high performing Operational Excellence culture: NextEra Energy
Operational Excellence Frameworks and Learning Resources, Customer Experience, Digital Transformation and more introductions
  • Intelligent BPM Systems: Impact & Opportunity
  • Surviving_the_IT_Talent_deficit.png
  • Six Sigma's Best Kept Secret: Motorola & The Malcolm Baldrige Awards
  • The Value-Switch for Digitalization Initiatives: Business Process Management
  • Process of Process Management: Strategy Execution in a Digital World

Popular Tags

Operational Excellence Business Transformation Business Improvement Process Management Continuous Improvement Business Excellence process excellence Process Optimization Process Improvement Leadership Enterprise Excellence Change Management Lean Premium Organizational Excellence Lean Enterprise Lean Six Sigma Execution Excellence Capability Excellence Award Finalist Case Study New Technologies Changing & Improving Company Culture end-to-end Business Transformation Digital Transformation Agile Execution & Sustaining OpEx Projects Culture Transformation Lack of/Need for Resources Leadership Understanding & Buy-In Adapting to Business Trends Changing Customer Demands Failure to Innovate Integrating CI Methodologies Lack of/Need for Skilled Workers Lack of/Need for Support from Employees Maintaining key Priorities Relationships Between Departments BTOES18 Technology Healthcare and Medical Devices Culture Customer Experience Process Automation Exclusive BTOES Video Presentations BTOES HEALTH Innovation Strategy Execution Report Manufacturing Customer Experience Excellence Healthcare BPM Lean Manufacturing Artificial Intelligence Digital value creation Agility Insurance Robotic Process Automation Systems Engineering digital operations Process Design innovation execution data management Awards Industry Data Analytics Sustainability Transformation thought leaders BTOES Presentation Slides Data Automation Machine Learning Banking and Capital Markets Finance Speaker Presentation Professional Services IT AI Enterprise Excellence culture Robotic Process Automation (RPA) Sales Cultural Transformation Education HealthcareTechnologies White Paper investment banking BTOES19 Consumer Products & Retail Electricity Health Insurance Operational Excellence Model Project Management Algorithm Automotive and Transportation Banking Blockchain Cloud Digital Bank Digital Global Enterprise Model (D-GEM) Lean Culture Primary Measure of succes Python business expansion revenue growth AI Solution Innovation in Healthcare Business Intelligence CAIR (Client Advocacy Insights Robot) Digital Technologies Government HR Health Maintenance Organizations Interview Learning organization Medicare Operational Excellence Example User Interface business process automation transformation journey Accounts Receivable (AR) Agile Transformation Big Data Technology Business Environment CORE Cloud Technology Cognitive learning Data Entry Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) Delivery solution Digital Network Digital Network Assistant (DNA) Digitization Drinks Global Technology Healthy Culture Information Systems Internet Logistics Services Media NPS Natural Language Processing Net Promoter Score Optimise Business Processes Program Management Portal (PgMP) Relationship Management Risk Management Six Sigma AEGIS Database Adobe Sign Automated Money Movement BPaaS Biopharmaceutical BlueFIT Business Benefits CX Capability Capital Market Case Study Corporate Culture Digital Workforce Digitalization E-Signatures ERP Transformation Enterprice Excellence Culture Filmed Entertainment Industry Financial Services Software Frameworks Government Programs Hoshin Planning Hospitality Implementation Kaizen Event Operational Excellence (OpEx) Organizational Learning Pharmaceutical Pharmaceuticals & Life Sciences ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI) Servant Leadership Strategic Business Transformation Strategic Priorities Supply Chain Management Sustainable Growth Team Leader Development Program (TLDP) Transformation Initiatives Transportation Wealth Protection Products Web Logic Portal Workplace Analytics eForms eSignatures BEAM BFARM BTOES17 Big Data Processing Blue Room Effect Business Analytics Business Challenges Business Growth Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) Centralized Performance Monitoring System Child Care Program Client Feedback Strategy Communication Creative Passion Creativity Denial Management Digital Experience Digital Technology Educational Psychologist Effective Change Leaders Employee Empowerment Finance Global Operations (FGO) Global Enterprise Model© (GEM) Hospitality & Construction Human Capital Human Centered Design Integrated Decision Approach Integrated Decision Making Kaizen Natural Gas Infrastructure Natural Language Processing (NLP) Offering Managers Oil and Gas Optical Character Recognition (OCR) Organizational Change Organizational Goal People Engagement Program (PEP!) Pharmaceuticals and Life Sciences Photographing Positive Workplace Environment Price and Routing Tracking (PART) Product Identifier Descriptions (PIDs) Project manager Quote to Cash (Q2C) SAP Sales Quota Telecommunications Text Mining Visually Displayed eHealth master text analytics virtual resource management Agile methodology Announcement Augmented Intelligence BTOES18 Award Winners BTOES18 Awards