Squashing Creativity

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I was pleasantly surprised by a recent article in Fast Company that stated, “Creativity is now the most important leadership quality for success in business.” I’m sure that integrity, assertiveness and dedication still rank high in what CEO’s need to stay on top.

I think being a Creative thinker is a real gift because I’m not trapped by the traditional business models. Of course it is imperative that our company make a profit each month and that our people are working efficiently with current technology. What’s also important is the ability to “think outside the box” and invent new ways to “touch” a consumer. Discover a new way to deliver the service to the user. A new feature can make a difference. A better method, etc…and all this comes from creative thinking.

I recently witnessed a situation where people felt stymied and were “not allowed” to make suggestions or recommendations on how to best capture product. I happened to know of a technique that could be used to enhance the imagery and as the client’s representative, I had no trouble asking if we could use this technique. The “leader” of the group was resistant at first because he was an “old dog” and his attitude conveyed he didn’t need to learn any “new tricks.”  I kept pushing and prodding and finally he agreed to try my suggestion. But before we got to that pivotal moment, I had a series of “why it won’t work” excuses thrown at me in rapid fire and, well, I found it quite amusing. It was so counter to our culture at CurrentMarketing. We have a very “open” environment and not overly territorial. If someone has a better idea on how to say or do something, we embrace it.

Eventually we implemented my suggestion and it really made a difference. This wasn’t something I originated. It was something I had learned and seen great results with.

Mr. “Arrived” finally admitted that he learned something new that day. I did my best to remain humble and not speak the “I told you so” that was stuck in my throat.

Later I was talking with some of his employees and found it disturbing that collectively they had a ton of experience, knew of the techniques I pushed for—and others—but would never step up and suggest any improvement because they had been told “not to say a word.” It was clearly a case of “my way or the highway” and I couldn’t help but think how much better this person could be if he had an open environment where people were free to share ideas. I think no matter what age or level of expertise you have, you can always learn something new.


  • franny
    May 28, 2010, 12:07 pm  Reply

    Wow!! I could not agree more with this essay. It is so important to think outside the box…remember Apollo 13. Those nasa folks had no time to talk about why it would not work but how to get it to work.

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