CREATIVITY, DREAMING BIG
A few days of beautiful weather and you start daydreaming about spring. March is behind us and the first signs of spring are appearing. But, there are still cold and rainy days ahead and maybe even a little snow. And as the winter retreats, our hopes and thoughts are about the glorious days of summer. The changing seasons are like organizational changes. Sometimes pleasant and sometimes abrupt! But if we are committed to an environment of creativity and innovation, we will look at each new day as opportunities for change like the seasons change around us.
In today's turbulent, often chaotic, environment in the Forest Service, our success depends on employees using their full talents and creativity. People are the heart and soul of the Forest Service and any other organization. We need to help people expand their capabilities, ignite and spark their passion, nurture their creative ideas and give people the opportunity to grow and learn. We need an environment that sustains learning and assists people in developing their creative skills and abilities.
We must stop telling people what to do and instead make sure that they know what not to do and then allow them to proceed and apply their creativity and formulate new ideas. This is a very effective way to get people to use their creative talents. Give people an opportunity to use their imagination and step out of the way.
People have an innate drive to create something exciting and extraordinary. They want to share their ideas. People want to feel passionate and to be useful and contribute to the organization. It’s part of being human. Managers and supervisors must create the organizational structures that allow employee’s creativity to surface, then nurture it and let it find its own momentum. They need to foster creativity, unfetter imagination, develop individuality and encourage innovation. This should be job one for all managers and supervisors. It’s about leadership! If they do this, there is no limit to how fast or how far people can go. So what can you do to nurture a creative culture? Here are few tips:
- Get out of your office. Share ideas and suggestions with others which can ultimately lead to better ideas.
- Diversity is key. People working in the same staffs/units have similar perspectives. So seek ideas from other staffs/units. But don’t stop there. You need ideas from a cross-sectional group (generational/gender/race/socioeconomic) of people.
- Make sure senior leaders are involved. The people at the top set the tone.
- Consider hiring a creativity consultant. Expensive, but a good one can be a smart investment.
- Failure is okay; ensure that employees know this. This doesn’t mean tolerating sloppiness and negligence. It does mean that trying new things is risky business.
- Listen to your customers. They’ll reinvent the wheel for you. They understand what they want and need.
Access to talented and creative people is to modern business what
access to coal and iron ore was to steel making.
Technology Marketing Corporation, “Businesses Nurture Creativity For Innovation, Promotion,” March 15, 2006 (www.tmcnet.com).
Business Week Online, “How Whirlpool Defines Innovation,” Nancy Snyder, March 6, 2006 (www.businessweek.com).
Innovate Forum, “Innovation Strategies: What Are The Do’s And Don’ts,” Amy Rowell, March 1, 2006 (www.innovateforum.com).
Harvard Business Review, “The Why, What, and How of Management Innovation,” Gary Hamel, Pages 72-84, February 2006 (www.hbr.org).
Babson Insight, “Managing Knowledge Workers: Developing Capabilities,” Tom Davenport, January 2006 (www.babsoninsight.com).
Get Back In The Box, Innovation From The Inside Out, Douglas Rushkoff, Harper-Collins, New York, NY 2005.
Despite all the pro-innovation rhetoric that one encounters in
annual reports and CEO speeches, most still hold the view that
innovation is a rather dangerous diversion from the real work of
wringing the last ounce of efficiency out of core business processes.
Innovation is fine so long as it does not disrupt a company's finely-honed
operating model. As change becomes ever less predictable, companies will
pay an ever-escalating price for their lopsided love of incrementalism.
Are You In An Innovation Rut?
Jim Carroll, internationally recognized futurist offers the following ten innovation killers:
Print this list, and take it into your next meeting. Score one point each time a phrase is used, plus bonus points as indicated. Score more than 5, and you've got an organization that is innovation-adverse. Score 10 or more and you are innovation dead. 15 or more, and you might as well close up shop - or immediately book Jim for guidance!
- "We've always done it this way" (3 bonus points):
- "It won't work"
- "That's the dumbest thing I ever heard"
- "That's not my problem"
- "You can't do that"
- "I don't know how"
- "I don't think I can"
- I didn't know that"
- "The boss won't go for it" (5 bonus points)
- "Why should I care?" (10 bonus points)
According to Albert Einstein, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result each time.”
Today’s globally competitive landscape is unraveling the ties that defined yesterday’s “employer-for-life” relationship, with everything from career advancement to retirement planning being pushed down to the worker, says Jagdish Sheth, marketing professor at Emory’s Goizueta Business School. Inexpensive PCs have led to the gradual disappearance of secretaries, and many organizations have embraced “hotelling,” with office space reserved for traveling executives on an as-needed basis. “Companies are moving to a distributed work model, where individuals and clusters of people…who may be employers or so-called ‘e-lancers’ (freelancers who move from one firm to another, following new projects) … located in different cities, countries or continents, collaborate on assignments, then break up and pursue their own agendas. The entire corporate model is slowly shifting to a ‘Self, Inc.’ format or self-employed professionals,” says Sheth. The good news is that a distributed model can enhance creativity, says Goizueta professor Jill Perry-Smith. “Stronger relationships tend to constrain creative thinking. In contrast, new people bring in different ways of thinking and more diverse perspectives.
Universities Must Teach Innovation
Experts agree that innovation is increasingly important to the success of today’s companies, but when it comes to teaching tomorrow’s leaders about, business schools fall short of the mark. “The ability to understand, lead, and deal with the consequences of innovation will be one of the most important determinants of the success of the next generation of business leaders,” says Georgetown University dean George C. Daly. Students seem to understand the buzz: “Understanding what innovation is prepares you to have a certain amount of flexibility…the only constant is change. To be able to recognize opportunities as you see them and to train yourself to look at the world in new ways and problems in new ways is probably the key,” says one Georgetown student. And they’ve lived through the disruptive phenomena of Starbucks, iPod, Jet Blue and Google. But how to recognize disruption in the making is another matter altogether, says Georgetown marketing professor Jeneanne Ray. “The buzz conjured up by business media attention ought to be addressed by leaders who can provide specific answers and direction for thousands of people who are receptive and ready for the call. The trouble right now is that the majority of business leaders…including the CEO’s we are looking to for leadership…seem to have gaps in their understanding about how to make innovation work in large corporate or institutional environments.” Closing those gaps will be key to producing innovative leaders in the next 10-15 years.
February 27, 2006
Fishing For Ideas
IBM doesn't just talk about collaboration -- it practices what it preaches. The company contributes in major ways to open-source software projects and patent commons, and is also democratizing innovation internally. Nine months ago, it started up something called Think Place, a Web site where IBM employees are encouraged to suggest innovations. If the company takes them up, the employees get bonuses. The global services organization, which Ginni Rometty, Senior Vice-President co-runs, is about to launch a project called The Innovation Community, where employees, on a voluntary basis, contribute ideas on how to serve clients better. Asking Ms. Rometty, how does the changing nature of innovation affect her job? Rometty says she'll have to make substantial changes in the way she organizes and leads people in the coming years. "We're facing a dramatic change in the workforce. The challenge for people like me will be to figure out how to motivate the people who will work with us -- many of whom won't even be our employees. There's a war for talent, and it will only become more difficult." And in a war, every innovative edge helps.
Business Week Online
March 9, 2006
Some thoughts from a few Dreamers…….
I enjoyed the latest edition of Creativity Fringes because it helps me do my job better. Your articles encourage me to adjust my thinking and develop new ways of thinking. That’s a win-win for everyone.
As I started reading Creativity Fringes, it reminded me of the many issues we face in the Forest Service. I think that your suggestions and ideas are a must-read for all managers, supervisors and employees. Your suggestions for the success it home.
We need to take some time to smell the proverbial roses, and enjoy the beauty of life. When was the last time anyone asked you to slow down? It is not exactly a groundbreaking idea. Unfortunately, like to many of us in the Forest Service, it is easy to get caught up in the work and forget there is more to life. In the end, the best lives are the most balanced lives. Like a plant that withers without sufficient light and water, our lives suffer unless we have time to breathe and reflect. That is what nourishes us and keeps us strong and I believe the road to creativity. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts with us.
If you are interested in learning more about creativity or wish to share any experiences, please contact Karl Mettke at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Back issues of Creativity Fringes are posted at Treasury’s Federal Consulting Group.
Thank You For Taking Time To Be Creative…. .