Dr Cathryn Lloyd, Founder and Director Maverick Minds has spent much of the COVID-19 lockdown period engaged in several online business collaborations, preparing to write the second instalment of The Story Cookbook, and embracing her artistic creativity.
She was named as a Finalist in the 2020 Letheridge Small Scale Art Award for her submission “There was a sense of peace”.
Cathryn’s fervent hope is that business does not ‘snap back’ into the previous incarnation of itself, and that collectively we embrace and embed the positive changes in the way we work and live, which have been fostered in response to the global pandemic, to create a better future.
Why is collaboration central to the work you do at Maverick Minds?
A lot of my professional life has been as a micro business owner, entrepreneur and creative practitioner. I enjoy the creativity and variety my work entails. I have a lot of personal motivation and commitment to my creative business life so I can easily work on my own. I’m disciplined and quite focused. And because I do have a lot of autonomy I like to find opportunities and relationships for collaboration.
It can get a bit lonely always going it alone and it’s fun to work with others. I get great enjoyment and satisfaction in a respectful and productive collaboration. It is the sum of us at the end of the day. While I have ideas and directions to pursue the collaboration inevitably becomes more than it would if I was doing particular projects alone. And some of those projects may never have happened without collaboration.
For instance the Story Cookbook is a collaboration with Andrew Rixon and probably would never happened had we not said yes to collaborating. I’ve also written a number of papers and edited a couple of journals with my colleague Geof Hill. I’ve also collaborated on designing and facilitating workshops with people. What COVID-19 has revealed to me is how important these previous collaborations have been during this time.
I’ve built up networks and relationships over time and they have been such an important connection during this massive disruption both personally and professionally. I love working on my own things and I deeply value the collaborative work I am involved with. I feel fortunate to be able to work alone and with others. Both provide me with enormous creativity and meaning.
COVID-19 has really opened up new opportunities for collaboration. People seem to be more generous and want to explore more ways of working together. Also being online means you can collaborate with anyone anywhere. This is a huge shift in how we can work and add value to the world. I am connecting and finding ways to work more with people online than I ever could have in person because of the pandemic.
How has helping clients reframe their training and development offerings to online informed your view of how to create meaningful online experiences?
When we went into lockdown in March I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work with a national client to bring what would have been face-to-face workshops to being live-on-line. This ended up being a wonderful collaborative opportunity. I learned so much about converting these courses to become meaningful, engaging and human.
I’ve also spent a lot of time hanging out with various professional networks like the global Applied Improvisation Network (of which I am a board member), the Australian Facilitators Network and a small group of colleagues I have been meeting with for years in which we do our own professional development. I value all of these networks – the friendships and shared learning. This time has provided us all with the opportunity to learn together and experiment.
Given we are spending so much time online it is essential we make our time together worthwhile. We all have a responsibility to do that. To be part of the process of making online learning and interactions as engaging as we can. We also have a responsibility to make our online meetings meaningful. Being online has been more creative than I thought it would or could be. I’ve always loved being in the same space with people and I still do. I also know that we can do both – we can create meaning and worthwhile connection in person and online. It’s also OK to be imperfect with our offerings – the main thing is to be generous, kind and have a go at trying different things.
Tell us about why you co-authored The Story Cookbook, and who it is for?
Andrew Rixon and I co-edited the The Story Cookbook: practical recipes for change which was published in 2019 by Cambridge Scholars Publishing. It is a very practical book and is also a collaboration with the books contributors. We had over 55 facilitators, coaches, educators, improvisers, storytellers share their favourite story-based activities for working with groups. It really is a sum of the parts.
We’ve now started the second Story Cookbook which focuses on Facilitating with Stories. In particular we’re inviting people to reflect on and articulate their facilitation philosophy and why and how stories have become embedded into their professional practice.
You were a finalist in the Lethbridge Small Scale Art Award. What inspired your artwork?
Most of my life has been in and around the arts and creative industries in some way or another. I originally studied at the Queensland College of Arts – now part of Griffith University. The arts and my own arts practice have a great influence in all of my work. My professional life has morphed into creative facilitation, coaching, and designing workshops which I endeavour to imbue with as much creativity as I can.
Making and creating art keeps me centred. It’s an opportunity to play, experiment and imagine in other ways. It is also something I do on my own so I can please myself. I’m not required to please others – if I do that is a bonus. I have a small art studio I can disappear into with my materials and allow ideas to emerge. I keep hearing that COVID-19 has made us all philosophers. I’m not sure about that but I do think many of us are questioning the systems we live in and if we haven’t I think that is a lost opportunity.
I’m not one of the people who aspire to snap back to business as usual. My hope is that we can create a new future and find new ways of doing everything actually. This pandemic is our wake-up call on so many fronts. It is exposing all the structural systemic issues and inequalities in our society. It sheds light the fragility of our ecosystem which we are intrinsically part of. We have exploited too many things and it’s time for change.
We have to ask ourselves what do we really value? I’ve been working with mixed media and collage most recently. I like the combination of materials and storytelling. It’s also driven by a personal philosophy of recycling and using what is at hand as much as possible.
So the artwork I produced that was a finalist “There was a sense of peace” is a response and contemplations to these sorts of questions as well as spending a lot of time at home and appreciating the simple things life has to offer rather than just falling into a funk or pushing a business as usual mindset. It’s definitely a response to the impermanence of things. I’m delighted it spoke to the judges enough to include it in the finalists show which was featured ‘for real’ at the Lethbridge Gallery alongside some very impressive art.
How do you integrate your business and creative skills to develop novel learning experiences for teams?
Creativity is essential in business. If we want innovation, we need to cultivate individual and collective creativity. Creativity is much more than the arts although the arts are an obvious link to creativity. Creativity is not at all fluffy – all of our fabulous human endeavour manifests because of our creativity.
That’s not to say that all creativity has to lead to a particular outcome. We have creative expression just for the joy and pleasure of it. We have Creativity that is spontaneous and responsive to the moment and we also have creativity that is deliberate, focused and intentional. Everyone has a natural creative way of being that is worthy of attention and nurturing. We can cultivate creativity that adds value to the world by directing our creative energy and intelligence to the development of ideas that are beneficial for ourselves and others.
What I endeavour to do in my work is to open the space for this; to bring these worlds closer together and be more in relationship with one another. I like to and hope that I embed my professional practice with a creative and practical heart. Having said all of that I do encourage people to engage with the arts because we can learn so much from the arts.
My frustration has been the focus on STEM rather than STEAM in terms of what we value and how we invest. If there is anything this pandemic has revealed is that many of us have sought solace in the arts, be it music, writing, poetry and film and many of us have connected or reconnected with all sorts of creative activity we may have done previously or have always wanted to do.
The greatest gift we can give ourselves and each other is permission to be our most unique creative selves in whatever circumstances we are in and for people to own their learning by bringing their creativity and creative mindset to that experience. The best novel learning experiences are when we co-create, experiment and figure it out together in that way we are all part of the learning puzzle.
What are you currently working on?
I have clients I am working with to see what we can do online together. I’ve proposals and expressions of interest out there. I’m also journaling which I find very useful for digging into my creativity and for exploring ideas that emerge. I have another book I have been working in relation to creativity which needs more input from me.
I’ve also been doing my own professional development and in particular learning about and working on team coaching. It’s quite a different mindset to individual coaching. And it’s always time for me to be in the studio making art.
Advice for future female leaders
“Creativity is a dialogic process, like an authentic human conversation. You cannot script it, but it works best when you are attentive to serendipity and chance”. (Deborah J Haynes – Art Lessons: meditations on a creative life).
We are in unchartered territory which requires all of us to dig deep. Now more than ever we need to be attentive to the creativity within us and to creative collaborations that can have a positive impact in our interdependent world. My question is what will we do differently that will make a difference? Let’s conceive a new future rather than falling into a business as usual trap.
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