CREATIVITY, IMPACTING YOUR BOTTOM LINE
What have you done to make creativity a reality in your organization? These days the Forest Service is taking a fresh look at how we do things and how we are organized for results. Something as important as creativity should be at the top of everyone's priority list. The organization that doesn't foster creativity loses. The organization that hesitates loses. This play on the old adage is right on target for today's organizations.
People no longer wait patiently for someone to offer a better service. People want instant replies, instant sales, and instant service. One company's executive recently said, "Be quick or be dead." Here are a few ways you can be more creative, faster and flexible in today's world.
Get organized. Develop new ways to deliver goods and services to customers. Blue Cross/Blue Shield of North Carolina, for example, used a workflow analysis by Xerox to cut their production time for a benefits booklet from 45 days to five days.
Focus on your future. Stop analyzing other organizations and redefine and reinvent the way you do things. If you focus too much on other organization's efforts, they'll move forward while you study their tactics.
Recognize failure. The more quickly an organization admits something isn't working, the faster it can focus its time and resources on new processes and services. Every organization should analyze its activity for at least the past six months. If goals and services aren't being met, the organization needs to initiate some fundamental change.
Think flexibility. Organizations today must be ready to move quickly...whether it's to modify a process or introduce new technology. Look at everything in the organization in a new light. Ask yourself and employees, "How can we do this better?" or "How else could this be used?"
Time Won't Let Me
While all those ideas are good and patience can be a virtue, the reality of life today is the lack of time which can dramatically affect our ability to be creative. Who among us hasn't wish for more hours in the day? Of course it's a wish in vain. The problem is not the number of hours in the day, but how we spend them. If you feel like your summer has flown by, like juggling work and family is next to impossible, like you'll never cross off all items on your to-do-list, you're in good company. These issues plague most everyone around you. So the question is not, "How can I get everything done and still have time to spear?" The real question is "How can I gain more balance in my life and know what tasks to relinquish and what tasks to focus on?" While some people think they can do it all, the truth is more like this, "Something's got to give." Sometimes that is your family and other times that could be your creativity. This all may sound discouraging, but don't despair; there are some time management techniques you can use to increase your time and of course your creativity.
Got a minute? If your answer is a definite "no," you're not alone. Most people fill up all available time. Look at recent news stories about children on the go with their parents from 5:00 am until 11:00 pm with sports, schools, hobbies, homework, etc. People just fill every free minute with something that needs to be done...and they still feel behind. Your ideas are lost; your ability to think creatively is affected. Have you ever seen someone juggling two cell phones and their blackberry at the same time? If that scenario sounds all too familiar, it's time to take a look at your personal time management approach. Here are some suggestions to consider...
Delegate. Before you even begin a task, make sure you are the right person for the job. It may be that someone else could do the job just as well, saving you precious time and energy and of course time for thinking.
Get a plan. Make a detailed to-do-list for each day and use it as your guide. Allow some free time for thinking. Remember, quality often counts more than quantity. Choose five jobs every day that offer the biggest pay-off and work at accomplishing them.
Be ready for the unexpected. No matter how well you plan, someone is bound to throw you a curve ball. Allow for unanticipated opportunities or setbacks.
Schedule the most difficult jobs during your peak time. Pay attention to how your moods, concentration, stress levels, and productivity change throughout the day. If you tackle the least enjoyable or most troublesome tasks when you work most efficiently, they will get done faster. This also affects your creativity.
Include an enjoyable activity in each work day. Hard work isn't always fun. To avoid burnout, lack of creativity, schedule at least one task each day you particularly enjoy doing.
Creativity occurs at the intersection of previously unconnected planes of thought.
Harvard Business School
Business Wire, "Innovation Most Critical Factor To Success, Say U.S. Business Leaders," Abby Smith, August 10, 2005 (www.businesswire.com).
INC. Magazine, "Nonstop Innovation, How One Company Transforms Its Employees Into Entrepreneurs," Larry Olmsted, Page 34, July 2005 (www.inc.com).
Business Week, "Get Creative, How To Build Innovative Companies," Bruce Nussbaum, Pages 60-68, August 1, 2005 (www.businessweek.com).
Harvard Business School Working Knowledge, "Six Steps To Operational Innovation," Michael Hammer, August 1, 2005 (hbswk.hbs.edu).
Fortune, "The World of Ideas," Patricia Sellers, Booklet, July 25, 2005 (www.fortune.com).
Innovation That Fits, Moving Beyond The Fads, Michael Lord, Donald Debethizy & Jeffrey Wager, Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ 2005
Innovation...any new idea...by definition will not be accepted at first.
It takes repeated attempts, endless demonstrations, monotonous rehearsals before innovation can be accepted and internalized by an organization.
This requires courageous patience.
Tapping Your Creativity
Jan Whitted, Artbeat...The Creativity Store (www.artbeatonline.com) had the following suggestions to jumpstart your own creativity.
- » Stop thinking you're untalented...You don't need to paint a masterpiece to be creative, Whitted points out. "Sewing, cooking, even the way you decorate a room is an expression of your inner self...and that's what creativity is all about."
- » Try new things...Consider taking an art class or music lessons...even if you're "sure" you have no talents, she says. "Or with a friend, pick something you've always wanted to try, perhaps joining a local theater group. It's easier to venture out with a friend."
- » Nurture your creative soul...Listen to music or take a quite walk in nature, jotting down anything that strikes your fancy. File it away, then, when you're feeling creative take out your notes to inspire your imagination.
- » Learn from children...Children throw themselves into arts and crafts with such abandon...just follow their lead. "The more joy you put in, the more you'll get back," says Whitted.
The Creative Economy
Don't look now, but the Knowledge Economy is passť, and is rapidly being overtaken by a new Creativity Economy fueled be new forms of innovation based on an intimate understanding of consumer culture. Leading the charge are two US corporate giants...GE and Procter & Gamble (P&G). P&G CEO A.G. Lafley in 2001 established a new executive position... Vice President for Design, Innovation and Strategy...and hired a legion of designers to transform the company's R&D operations. To create a design infrastructure, Lafley established an innovation "gym"...a place to train managers in new design thinking...and a Design Board of outsiders who provide an independent perspective on products, brand extensions and marketing. Meanwhile, GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt hired a new chief marketing officer in charge of generating innovation and creativity, and launched a series of Imagination Breakthrough projects, pushing GE initiatives in new markets and product areas. GE managers are urged to connect with customers, take risks and place big bets. The result? GE's latest quarterly profit surged 24%, in part due to the company's bold move from gas turbines into wind and solar power generation. To reap the benefits of design strategy in your own organization, start with observing your own customers. Go out and watch how people shop for products, eat out, or experience health care, for instance. Try out lots of ideas through rapid prototyping, enabling managers to visualize new concepts and trim the time to product launch. Create a story around your new product (the story line surrounding the new MINI...motion watches and driving shoes leverages the cool urban driving experience of the Mini Cooper). Build an organization structure that supports these activities.
August 1, 2005
Keep Track Of Ideas
A recent Bain & Company poll shows that nine out ten senior managers acknowledge the importance of innovation to their future competitive advantage, two -thirds say their dissatisfied with their own company's performance. To help nurture the innovation process, "idea management" software is a small but growing market. Companies like Brightidea.com, Imaginatik, Mindmatters Technologies and General Ideas offer solutions to the general mayhem of the water cooler or suggestion box. Brightidea, for instance, provides a hosted solution that meshes with a company's existing computers, enabling workers to use site-based PC's as "capture stations" where they can submit their ideas. Reviewers can then enter comments, which are visible to all. Once ideas have been prescreened, review groups select which ideas will be promoted to the corporate review group. When ideas are approved as company wide best practices, the system also tracks progress toward implementation in all locations. Bain's Paul Calthrop says formalizing the innovation process can help boost the bottom line: "In low-odds, inductive game like innovation, the idea you lose could be the idea that would have worked."
Some thoughts from a few Dreamers.......
I read Creativity Fringes with interest each month. I plan to retire at the end of the year and after 30 plus years with the Forest Service, I still don't see the collaboration and fostering of any creative spirit. While some of it does occur where we have exceptional managers, for the most part many of the changes you have advocated have not been adopted. Where we have seen change in the Forest Service, much of it was forced down to employees and supervisors. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us over the years.
We are facing a lot of uncertainties in the Forest Service. That is a true statement and I hear it often from my Forest Supervisor. We are facing these tough times together and with more creativity which I see everyday on my Ranger District, it has big impact on morale. I see it as a positive impact. Thanks for opening my eyes to creativity and innovation. You are right on target.
If you are interested in learning more about creativity or wish to share any experiences, please contact Karl Mettke at email@example.com.
Thank You For Taking Time To Be Creative?