Several years ago I sat in on presentation about innovation and creativity. The presenter talked about the importance of creativity in the strategic process. The most memorable aspect of that presentation was how she leveraged the power of humor as a starting point in the creative strategy process. According to this presenter, humor is a source of creativity and it fosters a creative environment. Hence, when beginning the strategic planning process, she would focus on developing a strategy from a person’s humorous remarks and move from there. I found it an acutely insightful and innovate way to foster open and unchecked innovation.
Taking a business in a different or exciting direction requires insight, innovation and creativity. Putting caps or limits or rules on a strategic process restricts the possibilities for incredible discoveries and opportunities. Creativity solves problems, inspires people to move with great energy, and paves the way for new opportunities and growth. Creativity is so important in our businesses today that the June, 2011 issue of Fast Company features a section on the Top 100 Most Creative People. It was the editor’s letter about creativity that captured my attention and is the motivation and the source for this post. In his letter, Robert Safian defines four lessons learned about creativity. While this is his list, the comments associated with them are my comments and insights in support of them:
- Creativity can come from anywhere: Your entire organization possesses the ability and the capacity to create. They constantly have thoughts, ideas, and insights rarely shared or explored. I am constantly discovering insights and opportunities from non-traditional sources like movies, television, radio, music, and simple social conversations. Recognizing creativity requires the awareness and receptivity to these notions when they are introduced for they happen in an instant.
- Creativity can solve problems that seem insurmountable: There is not a problem, issue, or challenge that cannot be solved without a little creativity. Like the presenter referenced early, humor relaxes the audience and the source of the humor can be an inspiration to move forward from that funny comment. She even used an example of “gallows humor” to solve a particular problem. The challenge in creatively solving problems is allowing all possibilities, even the seemingly insane ones, to be explored as an opportunity.
- There is a limitless supply of creativity: Just as creativity can come from anywhere, the sources are limitless and unlimited. The entire universe is constantly on a continuous learning and improvement curve. This perpetual cycle of innovation and invention is a constant resource for creativity. Open up your channels and tap into the virtual, unlimited creative network.
- Creativity implies reinvention: Many organizations lose their creativity when they get into a fixed and structured process. While that process may work at its inception, it begins erodes its value the very next day as the world continues to evolve and change. People are constantly looking for the next idea, the next big thing, or the next opportunity. A little reinvention can only stimulate those energies. Creativity is the source for reinvigorating an old machine.
I love change. I am a passionate believer that everything needs to be evaluating, improved, validated, and moving forward. To that end, I am always looking at and for innovation and creativity wherever I go and in whatever I do. Sustainable growth requires the ability to be flexible and receptive to the ever changing demands of customers and the threats of competitors and economics. Maintaining a vigil on all the sources for and opportunities to be creative is a key to that success. Along the way, have some fun with it – everyone benefits.