Why does creativity matter so much? In today’s dynamic, competitive, and increasingly connected global world, creativity and innovation are a must to get ahead of the competitors and to survive and thrive at the same time. No enterprise can be successful without differentiating business ideas and solutions. Creativity and innovation are especially important when the market in a given sector is overcrowded. Creativity is needed to anticipate and prepare for the future. Leaders need to see more “more” and more “before” as John C. Maxwell (2018) puts it.
You need to see possibilities when others don’t. You need to give and facilitate answers to complex challenges. You need to connect the unconnected dots and you can’t achieve this without thinking creatively, out of the box. An excessive focus on striving towards efficiency can kill creativity, even though creativity is also a kind of productivity game, especially when it turns into innovation. Therefore, CREATIVITY and CREATE are destined to be the C in CRAFT Leadership. As a leader, you not only have responsibility for developing your own creativity and improving yourself as a creator, but also you are responsible for creating an environment in your organisation where creativity has its place and role. You must help your people unleash their creativity, too.
The world around us is changing at an exponential rate. Globalisation and technical advancements, with their effects, are two of the main global forces that impact creativity and innovation since both are opening up the world to us. Both are enablers and disruptors at the same time; they shepherd or sometimes push organisations towards creativity and innovation. Creativity is a great accelerant and applies to organisations of any type, in any sector. This is great because if you are entrepreneurial, innovative, and creative as an individual or as an organisation, what you have here is an exploding universe of opportunities. Loads of opportunities are not just happening but expanding constantly in front of you. All you have to do is to scan the horizon, grab hold of new things, and you are off on your next innovation journey. However, we individuals don’t have the mental capacity to keep up with all these changes; although we have great potential, we don’t optimise it. We are good, but not good enough for the explosion of exponential change that is happening around us. As human beings, we are primarily backwardslooking individuals, i.e., we make sense of our world by looking backwards. Most of the time we solve problems from our experience and knowledge. We filter through those lenses and select what is relevant today and apply it. This determines our future behaviour.
At a workshop by David J. Hall, Founder of Idea Center (2017), I learnt that our past can limit our future. We can improve over time, but unfortunately at a much slower rate, so we create an ever-increasing gap between what is and what might be. If there is a problem we instinctively look back before we decide what to do next. This traps us in our ‘what is’ circle, where we use our conventional and traditional thinking most of the time. We tend to consider only those ideas that are within this circle and dismiss those beyond it. Decisions in established organisations are still made with this backwards-looking perception. A typical example of this is setting the annual budget. It is still prepared based on past results mostly as a benchmark; there is very little focus on the future potential of the organisation. Therefore, creativity is an essential asset to innovate, navigate complexity, and thrive in today’s world. You might recognise these signals and potential blind spots when your organisation lags in this field (Nixon, 2020):
■ When organisations get larger and more focused on risk management, they easily fall into the trap of what Natalie Nixon (2020) calls “the tyranny of no”. They solve for ‘no’ instead of for ‘yes.’ Solving for ‘yes’ is the foundation of creativity.
■ When organisations find themselves at the head of the group, the “too big to fail” assumption and the superiority complex emerge. But where does that mindset come from? These firms don’t innovate quickly enough. They get complacent and stuck. Just think of Kodak.
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