ArLyne's Diamonds

A running commentary of ideas

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Creativity and Innovation

Everyone reading my newsletters – or working with me – knows that this is one of my favorite topics and areas of expertise. It’s one of the areas I’ve researched extensively, and the subject of many workshops I’ve conducted.

“Every organization needs one core competence: Innovation.”
Peter Drucker

Everyone wants it. Few know how to manage for it in the workplace. Some call it knowledge management, others research and development. Whatever the name, freeing people from coloring within the lines is a tricky business.

Some companies allow a percentage of time for the development of pet projects – “skunk-works” but they have little control over what is being accomplished during that time. They don’t know if they should be giving the creator a lot more time because of the exciting potentials coming from his/her tinkering, or whether to cut it off as totally wasteful.

Others think that by having their C level executives act as panels of venture capitalists, their employees will come to them with their good ideas to be evaluated. The problem with this theory is that all too often those with the good ideas either don’t think they are worthy of this level of interest, or don’t have the presentation skills needed to make an effective case for their ideas.

It’s not that the potential doesn’t exist for incredibly helpful and creative ideas that would improve processes and/or create better products.  It’s fear that gets in the way.

Think about children – and how we’ve scared them into always coloring within the lines (conforming to social expectations.) Think about children being taught there is only one way to think and behave. Think about children being ridiculed for going right when others were going left.

That’s why most people conform. That’s why they don’t take the risk to suggest a better way.  Think about all the people who push back, “This is the way we do it because this is the way we’ve always done it.”

I was once accused of being “a loose cannon” because one of my hobbies is to oil paint. Too creative I was told – “we’re afraid of hiring you – you’ll want to do it your way.”

Children are creative. They don’t yet know the paradigm of conformity. They believe that anything is possible – and so they are willing to try.

Can we give our workers – our staff at all levels in our organizations – the safety to come to us with better ideas? It’s not easy – but it is mandatory.

Not that long ago, there was a TV ad running with a child saying: “I believe. I believe in the power of zero…” The ad goes onto suggest that we can stop hunger in the world by working towards the power of zero – but first we must believe it is possible.

I believe. I believe in the innate strength, creativity, and power of individuals whether alone or in teams. I believe we can all suspend the belief that the box boxes us in and instead can believe that the paradigm can and should shift.

Do you? 


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