It’s a pleasure to be here today to talk with you about imagination, creativity and innovation. As the former executive officer of Kahler Slater, a multidisciplinary design firm with offices in Milwaukee, Madison and Singapore,I had the pleasure the course of 20 years in working with creatives – architects, interior and graphic designers, marketing, branding, PR and communication professionals,
in designing environments and authentic total experiences for clients like Manpower, Google, Samsung, the Mayo Clinic and Robert Redford’s Sundance group
Along the way, the firm was named a Best Place to Work company by the Great Places to Work Institute a record nine years in a row. So I know something about creating a culture that lends itself to encouraging and supporting innovation and creativity,
and I wrote a book about it, published in 2010, called Better Make it Real: Creating Authenticity in an Increasingly Fake World. Today, I’d like to share with you my experiences in building a culture that’s conducive to creativity. Now, you might say, “Hey wait a minute. You worked with creatives – people who were naturally creative, who were probably born that way. You had it easy. I don’t work with architects and designers. So, my institutional degree of difficulty is much higher.” Now, whether or not you’re right, here’s the thing: It just doesn’t matter.
Whether your starting point is an organization full of artists or accountants, in today’s world, everyone needs to be more creative.Everyone needs to develop more innovative solutions to problems or challenges, or you will simply not be able to compete – and worst case, you’ll cease to exist. And it doesn’t matter if you’re a non-profit organization looking to raise money to support a cause or build membership, or a Fortune 500 company looking to make money for your shareholders.
All organizations and companies these days are feeling the intense pressure to compete, to differentiate, to stand out from the crowd. Because when everything looks the same, the consumer will make his purchase or selection based not on quality, but on price. And then it’s just a race to the bottom. Being creative, developing more innovative products and services, adding differentiated value – these are challenges facing all organizations today, whether you’re a non profit association or a for profit entity.
According to the IBM 2010 Global CEO survey of 1500 CEOs worldwide found that “complexity” is the biggest challenge confronting them, and they identified that “creativity” is the single most important leadership competency for enterprises seeking a path through this complexity. To succeed, these business leaders said they need employees who are “creative.” And they defined creative employees as those who take more calculated risks, find new ideas and continuously innovate in how they lead and communicate. In this study, the CEOs surveyed said creativity rated higher than integrity, global thinking, influence or dedication as the most important leadership quality for the current and future workforce.
A 2012 survey of 1400 CFOs from companies across the US by Robert Half International found that 35% of the CFOs surveyed believed a lack of new concepts was the greatest barrier to a company being more innovative, which many of them said was the key to success.
And yet, in a recent study by Adobe of 5,000 workers in the U.S., United Kingdom, Japan, Germany and France shows 8 in 10 people feel that unlocking creativity is critical to economic growth. Nearly two-thirds of respondents feel creativity is valuable to society. But, a striking minority – only 1 in 4 people – believe they are living up to their own creative potential. Three out of four workers said they’re under growing pressure to be more productive, rather than more creative, despite the fact that they’re increasingly expected to “think creatively” on the job.
So, if creativity and innovation are so important, where’s the disconnect? What’s getting in the way? How do we build more creative organizations where innovation is the end result? How do we create a culture where creativity is valued as equally important, if not more so, than productivity? How can our organizations attract and retain the kind of creative talent who produce more innovative products and services?
I’m going to share some ideas with you today to do just that, based upon my own experience, as well as the most recent research on this topic. But fair warning: although much of what I’m going to share has a foundation in research, it’s also pretty simple and straightforward stuff. And yet, we sometimes fail to act on it. So, my goal for today is not to offer up an academic framework or analysis for creativity, but have each of you find one or two ideas to take home and actually test out and put to use. And oh yeah, you’ll also be getting some homework at the end. Fair enough?But before we begin, I think it’s important to get on the same page regarding what we mean by creativity and innovation. Often, these two words are used as synonyms, which they aren’t.Rather than a pure definition, the folks who study innovation at the Lincoln center suggest we think about the following continuum:
Imagination - conceiving of what is not
Creativity - imagination applied
Innovation - unique or novel creativity that has a value In this definition, innovation is the outcome of creativity: A new or improved and usually highly differentiated product or service that is born out of a creative process, brings increased value.Today, I’d like to focus on creativity, and talk specificially about what you can do to unleash creativity, and do so in a consistent way and over time, so that you actually develop a culture of creativity that’s lasting and sustainable. This isn’t easy, especially for senior leaders and executives. How many of you here today fit that definition?
Why is it so hard for senior leaders and execs to develop a creative culture? In the book Reverse Innovation, by Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble suggest that executives tend to surround themselves with people who think like they do. This, unfortunately, is a real creativity killer, because all of the research shows that creativity flourishes in a diverse environment.
In the book Reverse Innovation, when senior leaders surround themselves with people just like them, a kind of “group think” occurs, which leads to a condition the authors describe as “dominant logic.” Dominant logic is when organizations repeat their past formula for success so often that it becomes ingrained in the very DNA of the organization, in its planning processes, performance evaluation systems, HR policies, organizational structure and communications. Not only do they keep on repeating the actions that led them to success, they also unconsciously accept them as indisputably correct. You can hardly blame them, right? If I did A, and A led to success, why wouldn’t I simply keep doing A? And why wouldn’t I want everyone to do A as much and as often as possible? Of course, we all know the answer – because the world changes. If the world didn’t change, then doing A over and over again would be just fine. But because the world, and our customers, donors, members, etc. change, we need to adapt to what they want and need, or suffer the consequences. So, how can organizationscontinue to do what helps them achieve success, and yet fight the natural tendency toward institutionalizing dominant logic? Find the balance.
It begins with the CEO, with top leadersletting employees know that they’re not interested in the status quo, establishing radical goals so that people know they’re not in Kansas anymore.Openly supporting those individuals who see opportunities where others do not. Trying out many and various ideas. Unleashing small, diverse teams to pursue bold ideas in response to challenges. Creating work structures and incentives aligned with intrinsic motivation. Rewarding what’s different.
And never assumingyou know what your customers/members want/need or thinking you can innovate by never leaving your office. Here’s a short video clip of VJ Govindarajan, one of the authors of Reverse Innovation, describing how one company, Kellogg’s, is missing a major innovation opportunity staring them right in the face:
So, Kellogg’s is a huge, successful, presumably pretty smart company, right? But if VJ is correct, they are leaving a huge opportunity – selling tons of cereal in India – literally on the table. And why? Is it because they haven’t observed that market in an up close and personal way, and instead made assumptions on what it wants? Is it because they don’t have enough native Indians in senior leadership positions to offer a diverse and different point of view? Is it because the way they’ve always done business in the past has worked, so why change now? The lesson here is thatmaking assumptions or doing the same things over and over based on what has worked in the past, surrounding yourself mainly with people who think like you do is something you need to avoid at all costs if you want to be a more creative organization that capitalizes on opportunities to innovate.
Organizations must manage the inevitable conflicts in their core business between what they’ve always done and what they need to do now. Remember, it’s a balance. I’m not suggesting you throw the baby out with the bathwater. I’m not suggesting you change up what’s worked for your organization just for the sake of change. By all means, you’ll want to keep on doing some of what works as long as it keeps working. But what I am suggesting is that when you make room for thinking and doing things differently, there will be conflicts between the old and the new that must be managed by you. Believe me, when you start doing things differently, especially when those things bring results, people will notice. So, just being aware of what you’re doing and why you’re doing it will help you avoid falling into the “business as usual” trap – because one thing we can all agree on is that, these days, there is no more business of usual.
So how do you make room, find time, for creativity?
Well, remember that Robert Half International workers’ survey? They asked people what gets in the way of getting more innovative results. 25% of the respondents said “excessive bureaucracy,” and 20% said being bogged down with daily tasks and putting out fires.”
So, what’s an organization to do? First, you need to make your company ready for creativity to flourish by getting rid of what might be in the way. First, take a look at your daily operations, or ask someone you trust from outside of your organization to conduct an operational audit of your organization. This could be as simple as having someone observe your association conducting business for a week, in order to look for “creativity killers.’ Here are some questions to guide your audit:
-What business tasks do we conduct, and why? Is the end result of these tasks bringing any value, or do we do them because we’ve always done them? Back in 2000, my former company, Kahler Slater, was designing a new headquarters for the firm. We took this as an opportunity to rethink how we worked. And we conducted an experience audit of pretty much everything we did and looked at how and why we did it, in order to find more ways to increase collaboration, which we know encourages creativity. So for instance, in our previous office, we had someone delivering mail to the desk of each employee because that was efficient. In the new office, we decided to locate a mailcart in an area adjacent to the café, so that people had to come and pick up their own mail. Less efficient, perhaps, but it forced people to get up from their desks once a day and increased the opportunity to run into someone and have a creative interaction. -What reports are we creating or information we’re collecting, and why? Does anyone ever read this stuff, or better yet, do we ever do anything of value with the information we collect? At Kahler Slater, we used to have employees fill out timesheets in excruciating detail. Other than looking at the billable time which is how we billed our clients, we never did anything with much of the rest of the info. So, we stopped having people provide us with useless detail, and simply focus on documenting billable time. As a result, we completely overhauled our timesheet process, simplifying it, which was a win win for everyone. -Are the standing meetings we hold necessary and do they add or bring value? During our operational audit, we reviewed all of our meetings, confirmed that they needed to be held (instead of, say, sending an email or picking up a telephone) and revamped them, determining a specific reason and focus for each meeting. -And finally, look for “red tape” – should be pretty easy to find, and get rid of it! Has anyone ever done an operational audit, or something like it? Would you care to share your experience? I’d strongly encourage it, and if you can, to have some who is familiar enough but isn’t a part of your organization do it. Kind of like when you’re selling your house, and you have a realtor come over and tell you that the wallpaper you’ve been looking at for 20 years has to go, and you suddenly see it in all its imperfections.Once you’ve eliminated obstacles, how can you begin building a creative culture? Creativity flourishes under these conditions:
When you make it a team sport. Why? Well Ben Jones, a professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, says that scientific advances, especially in the last 100 years, have led to a situation where all the remaining problems are incredibly hard. Researchers are forced to become increasingly specialized, because there’s only so much information one mind can handle. So they have to collaborate to solve problems. “A hundred years ago, the Wright brothers could build an airplane all by themselves,” Jones says. “Now Boeing needs hundreds of engineers just to design and produce the engines.” And given the increasing complexity of human knowledge, coupled with the escalating difficulty of those remaining questions, means that people must either work together or fail alone. And not just in the sciences, but within all industries and segments of society.
Creative cultures flourish when you, as the coach, pick the right team. When you’re “picking your team,” whether your in a hiring position, or you’re choosing a team to help with a particular project or task, don’t pick people who think and act just like you do if you want to develop a creative culture. Reject the tendency toward dominant logic! I had a great boss and mentor who told me that hiring the right people, even if they were people you didn’t personally like, was like making a salad. If all you had was iceberg lettuce, it would be a pretty boring salad. However, if all you had was a bowl full of arugula, which is pretty spicy and bitter, that wouldn’t be much better. A blend it what you need.Jim Collins says that good to great organizations start with the “who” -- picking the right people to get on the organizational bus, He says if you start with the “what” or the “where,” and people get on your bus because of where they think it’s going, you'll be in trouble when you get 10 miles down the road and discover that you need to change direction because the world has changed. Because if people board the bus principally because of all the other great people on the bus, you’ll be much faster and smarter in your collective response to change. Second, if you have the right people on your bus, you don’t need to worry about motivating them. The right people are self-motivated: everyone loves to be a part of a great team. And third, if you have the wrong people on the bus, nothing else matters. You may be headed in the right direction, but you still won’t achieve greatness. Great vision with mediocre people still produces mediocre results.
Creativity happens when people take risks, and when people take risks, they’re going to fail. Thomas Edison was a poster child for failure. Here’s his take on it:
“I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.”
And:“I have not failed. Not once. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.” Think about your own life lessons. Did you learn more from when you succeeded or when you failed? Which lessons do you remember most – those that hurt or those that felt good? So, how tolerant is your organization of risk taking? Does anyone care to share a story of a time that they or their organization failed, and what you might have learned from it? During staff meetings at Kahler Slater, we set aside a few minutes for people to share something really stupid that they did. And we started with ourselves – the senior leaders sharing with everyone what stupid thing we did, what went wrong, and what we learned from it. Other organizations actually hand out awards for people who screw up big time, and are willing to share their mistakes with others.
Trust. If people are going to fail, they need to know you have their backs, or they’re not going to take risks, and that means they’re not going to be as creative. I once heard a speaker talking about how odd it is that people who run companies don’t seem to trust their employees. Those CEOs, he said, get up in the morning and drive to work, trusting that everyone else in their cars (who happen to be complete strangers) will stay in their appropriate lanes and not go careening all over the freeway. The park their cars, and maybe cross the street to their building, trusting that the “WALK” sign will get them safely across the street, and won’t be ignored by more strangers in their cars, waiting for the light to change. Then, these same business leaders will get on an elevator that was inspected by what was yet most likely another stranger, and they trust that the elevator will work and get them to their office on the 50th floor. And then when the elevator door opens to their office, these trusting souls, who have trusted all of these people they don’t even know to get them to work every day, stop trusting the people they’ve hired, and presumably have interviewed, checked references, and perhaps have even worked with for years. Kind of ironic, isn’t it? Doesn’t mean you don’t have clear goals or hold people accountable. But it does mean that the starting point, the foundation, should be one of trust, at least until that trust is threatened or even broken.
Have a process or framework for creativity – blank slates lead to blank minds. Every sport or game has a structure, rules, within which players are coached to do their best. Einstein’s general framework was this: Model, experiment, fail. (Slide) Repeat. Research indicates that structure can actually free and focus the creative spirit. So, when it comes to a framework or process, let’s go back to the sports analogy. How many of you watched the Olympics? What did you see before every single athletic performance or engagement? You saw athletes warming up. The brain is a muscle. So, why do we expect people to enter a conference room, grab a seat, and immediately begin spewing creative ideas? There are any number of creative warm up exercises. I’d like to take you through one that was a favorite of the creatives I worked with at Kahler Slater. It’s pretty easy. All you’ll need is a piece of paper, and pen and a pencil, and this:
(Begin to toss rolls of toilet paper into the audience). Each person please rip off about five sheets of paper, more or less, and then hand the roll to the next person. Now, I’m going to give you 30 seconds to do the following: (slide) Write down as many nontraditional uses for toilet paper as you can in the next minute. It’s not about quality, it’s about quantity. Don’t stop to think it through. Don’t judge your answers. Ideally, your pencil should never leave the paper. Fill it up with as many answers as you can in the next minute. Ready, go. (Share a few answers at the end of 30 seconds.) How many of you had more than 30 answers?So, you may think that’s kind of a silly exercise, but there’s plenty of research behind why this kind of thing works to warm up the brain and help stimulate creative thinking. Now, I’d like you to listen to what Sir Ken Robinson, world-renowned education and creativity expert has to say about some of the science behind stimulating creative thinking.
Play video. Then click for next slide.
There are a lot of things to think about from that clip. First, you can see the value of divergent thinking, or looking at things from multiple perspectives, coming up with multiple answers instead of just one. That’s why doing the toilet paper exercise, or something like it, works to warm up the brain, to get it used to thinking in nonlinear ways, and in multiples. I also showed you that video to demonstrate the power of visual communication. The brain doesn’t think in words. The brain thinks in pictures. That’s how it processes information. That’s how it remembers. You all know the name game, right? If you want to radically increase the chances of remembering someone’s name, you can repeat it over and over again. But what will work even better is to associate their name with a mental image. So for instance, I meet a man named Mr. Blackstone,
and a imagine the guy has a black stone on a chain hanging around his neck. That mental image will help me remember his name the next time we meetSo, if you want to build a culture of creativity, you need to get visual.So, let’s try an exercise to demonstrate the power of visuals and graphics. Everyone have a pencil and paper? I want you to think about your family. Either the family you have now, or the family you grew up in. Now, write a sentence describing your family unit.
What I’d like you to do now is to select the one image that best describes your family unit, the one you wrote a sentence about a minute ago. After you’ve selected the image, finish this sentence: This image represents my family because… (I’ll then ask someone to tell us what image they selected and to read the sentence they wrote.)Did selecting a visual to represent your family make it easier or more challenging to describe them? Which description is more creative, provocative, thoughtful, interesting?(Ask someone to share.) So, try this at your next meeting, instead of written reports, ask people to bring in drawings, photos or sketches of their ideas or concepts, and see what happens. We had an annual strategic planning process atKahler Slater that I led. A few years ago, instead of a written plan, I asked each of the teams to draw their plans and then present them to the group. Believe it or not, even some of these so-called creatives grumbled about this nontraditional approach, but in the end even they admitted that the final plans were more creative, more clear, and received more helpful suggestions from other teams than had been the case in the past. And, as a bonus, the planning process was actually a lot more fun. And we’ll talk more about the relationship of fun to creativity in just a bit.
Get critical.Getting back to another takeaway from Sir Robinson’s video, you’ll recall that he also talked about how creativity is all about collaboration. And brainstorming is the classic process used to collaboratively come up with creative ideas. How many of you have been involved in a brainstorming session? It’s the most widely used creativity technique in the world. And I’m guessing most of you know that there are some standard rules for a good brainstorming session, one of which is to always keep it positive, right? Typically, the facilitator will remind the group that there are no dumb or bad ideas, encouraging people to be open to all ideas, to say “Yes, and…” rather than “No, but…” No criticism, defer judgment. Turns out, according to recent research says challenging ideas in a brainstorming session actually leads to more and better ideas. A study done by Charlan Nemeth, a professor of psychology at the University of California at Berkeley, divided two hundred and sixty-five female undergraduates into teams of five. She gave all the teams the same problem—“How can traffic congestion be reduced in the San Francisco Bay Area?”—and assigned each team one of three conditions. The first set of teams got the standard brainstorming spiel, including the no-criticism ground rules. Other teamwere encouraged to come up with as many solutions as possible and to debate or even criticize each others’ ideas. They were told don’t be afraid to say anything that comes to mind. The third group of teams received no further instructions – they were free to collaborate however they wanted. The results were telling. The brainstorming groups slightly outperformed the groups given no instructions, but teams encourage to debate were the most creative by far. On average, they generated nearly twenty per cent more ideas. And, after the teams disbanded, researchers went back and asked each subject individually if she had any more ideas about traffic. The brainstormers and the people given no guidelines produced an average of three additional ideas; the debaters produced seven. The takeaway is that the ‘Do not criticize’ brainstorming rule appears to be a counterproductive strategy. Nemeth’s work and a number of other studies have demonstrated that creativity can thrive on conflict, because dissent stimulates new ideas,encourages us to engage more fully with the work of others and prods us into reassessing our viewpoints. “There’s this Pollyannaish notion that the most important thing to do when working together is stay positive and get along, to not hurt anyone’s feelings,” Nemeth says. “Well, that’s just wrong. Maybe debate is going to be less pleasant, but it will always be more productive. True creativity requires some trade-offs.”
If you want a creative culture, you’ll need to find creative sherpas to help. Successful creative processes or frameworks generally have a facilitator who can guide people through the process. People who are good at seeing the big picture, asking good questions, like to fly without much of a net, are good communicators, are good at making connections and summing things up . Someone who isn’t necessarily focused on actually “playing the game,” to continue the sports analogy, but is removed enough to see the big picture.
Creative cultures are diverse, but balanced. No, I’m not asking you to channel your inner yogi. But being diverse in a balanced way is what leads to more creative outcomes. Brian Uzzi, a sociologist at Northwestern, has spent his career trying to find what the ideal composition of a creative team would look like. Guess where he found the answer? On Broadway. Uzzi sees Broadway musicals as a model of group creativity. “Nobody creates a Broadway musical by themselves,” he said. “The production requires too many different kinds of talent.” The actors and dancers work with a composer and a lyricist. A choreographer has to work with a director, who has to work with the producers. All are needed to make it a success. But here’s where it gets really interesting– research has found that groups made up only of people who don’t know each other, or groups who know each other very well, come up with fewer creative ideas than those groups that are a mix of people who are familiar with one another, and those who are new to the group. So, mix it up, but balance it out.
If you want people to work together effectively, recent research findings show you need to create places and spaces that support frequent, physical, spontaneous interactions, especially when so much work is done on the internet. When Steve Jobs was planning Pixar’s headquarters in 1999, he had the building arranged around a central atrium, so that Pixar’s diverse staff of artists, writers, and computer scientists would run into each other more often. Jobs soon realized that it wasn’t enough simply to create an airy atrium; he needed to force people to go there. He began with the mailboxes, which he shifted to the lobby. Then he moved the meeting rooms to the center of the building, followed by the cafeteria, the coffee bar, and the gift shop. Finally, he decided that the atrium should contain the only set of bathrooms in the entire building – although he later added another set of them after people complained! When we designed a new corporate headquarters for my former firm, we created a café and coffee area in the center of the space. Employees were forced to leave their desks and go to a centralized area to get coffee a few times a day. In the old office, we had printers and copiers scattered throughout the office adjacent to workpods. In the new office, we created a central copy and printing area, where people were forced to come for printing and copying. Now, you might think that this approach wasn’t very efficient, or that it wasted time and forced employees to leave their desks several times a day. You’d be right in that it wasn’t as efficient as before. But what we lacked in efficiency, we more than made up in providing more opportunities for people to come together, even inadvertently or accidently. And these opportunities served as intersections of creativity – we even painted one large wall in our café with chalkboard paint, because when creatives come together, they often like to express their ideas or work out problems by drawing, so we gave them ample opportunity to do so, even when they were getting a cup of coffee.
How many of you are Brewers baseball fans? You know what struck me most about the terrific season they had two years ago, when Prince was still on the team? It was how much fun they seemed to be having. How many of you play golf? Do you play better when you’re tense or when you’re relaxed? Now, for Tiger Woods, golf is pretty serious business, as is professional baseball, right? But they are also games, played by adults who make a lot of money. But that doesn’t mean they can’t have fun, and often, the more relaxed they are, the more fun they have, the more their play seems to be enhanced. Why is it that we sometimes frown upon having fun in the workplace, as if having fun and working hard are diametrically opposed? And if you’re looking to enhance innovative outcomes, if you’re looking to develop a more creative culture, then you would do well to inject fun into your workday. Today’s workforce was raised in a world where standing in line at Disneyworld has turned into an opportunity to be entertained while you wait. Gen xers and yers expect to enjoy work, and yes, to have fun. Work hard, play hard. Research is also pretty clear that a relaxed and ideally, fun environment is more conducive to creativity and innovative outcomes. Playrelaxes us, and allows our subconscious mind, where creativity does its best work, the time it needs to work out solutions and come up with new ideas.
So, ever hear of Arthur Fry? Arthur Fry sang in a church choir. And he’d use bookmarks to keep his place in his songbook, even though sometimes he’d lose his place because they’d slide off the page. One day, he’s in church, in the choir loft, listening to a rather uninspiring sermon, and his mind wanders off. And just like a bolt out of the blue, it comes to him. You see, Arthur Fry was an engineer at 3M. And 3M had created an adhesive that was so weak, it barely worked to keep things stuck together. So, it had basically been shelved. And Arthur, sitting in the choir, daydreaming on a Sunday morning, suddenly realized that the glue was the answer to his prayers. Arthur speculated that if he coated his bookmarks with the weak adhesive, he could stick and unstick them on his songsheets, keep his place, and not tear the sheets.
And that was how posted notes were born. Arthur literally dreamt up one of the most successful new products for 3M in years not while he was at work, sitting behind his desk, or in some meeting or focus group. This shouldn’t come as a surprise – where do most of us do our most creative thinking? (Take answers from audience.) In the shower. While we’re driving to work. Waking from a nap. In other words, when we’re letting our conscious mind wander, and allowing the subconscious mind, the epicenter of creativity, to do its work.
“Creativity is the residue of time wasted.” -EinsteinAgain, think about Arthur Fry. There’s much to be said for daydreaming, for allowing the subconscious to work. So, what can you do in your organization to lighten things up – to create a more fun, more relaxed environment in order to stimulate creative thinking?
And finally, if you’re building a creative culture, know that change doesn’t happen over night. Don’t give up. Most people wouldn’t believe that a man often lauded as the best basketball player of all time was actually cut from his high school basketball team. Luckily, Michael Jordan didn’t let this setback stop him from playing the game. Jordan had this to say about his career: “I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”As senior leaders, you are the ones to encourage, to support, to celebrate when it doesn’t work, and when it does. So for you: Where do you go to seek inspiration? It’s hard to inspire others if you’re not inspired yourself.
One way to get inspired: I’m the board co-chair of Creative Alliance Milwaukee, an organization that serves as the chamber of commerce to the creative industries in the Milwaukee region, which is made up of nearly 70,000 creative workers and artists ad 4100 creative businesses and nonprofit organizations. On March 21st, we’re holding an event designed to increase your personal creativity at C-K, a CAM member company and one of Milwaukee’s hottest marketing and ad agencies. Please join us.
So right now, you’re going to get an envelope that I’d like you to address to yourself. After you’ve done that, look inside the envelope, and you’ll find a folded sheet of paper. On the paper, I want you to write down your action plan to become more inspired. Write down at least one way that you’re going to seek out inspiration, and put down a date when you’re going to act. And in keeping with our sports theme, you have until the end of the song to finish this activity. For those of you who may not recall, this was the theme for the 1996 summer Olympics. Go.
Now, put the sheet in the envelope, seal it, and hand it to the people at the door on your way out. We’ll be mailing your inspiration action plan to you in the next 30 days as a reminder and nudge to help you live a more creative life, and by extension, to serve as an example and model for your organization to use their collective
…imagination and creativity to become more innovative.
Now, up on the screen, I’m going to show you a series of metaphorical images.
Take a look at them. You’ll see them all together at the very end,
and at that point, I’m going to ask you to select the one that best describes your family unit, the one you wrote a sentence about a minute ago.
Don’t assume you know what your customers want or need. Don’t thinkyou can innovate by never leaving your office.
Managethe inevitable conflicts in your core business.
What business tasks do we conduct, and why? Is the endresult of these tasks bringing any value, or do we do thembecause we’ve always done them?What reports are we creating or collecting, and why? Doesanyone ever read them, or better yet, do we ever do anythingof value with the information we collect?Are the standing meetings we hold necessary and do they addor bring value?What “red tape” or bureaucratic dictum is getting in the wayof your employees … wasting time they could be using to bemore creative?
―One who fears failure limits hisactivities. Failure is only the opportunity tomore intelligently begin again.‖ Henry Ford
―Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will takeyou everywhere.‖ Albert Einstein
―Failure is thecondiment that gives success its flavor.‖ Truman Capote
―The best way topredict the future is to create it.‖Abraham Lincoln
―Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by thethings that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.‖ Mark Twain
―Creativity is inventing,experimenting,growing, takingrisks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.‖Mary Lou Cook
―Nothing encourages creativity like the chance to fall flat on ones face.‖James D. Finley
―If you want to build a ship, don’tdrum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.‖ Antoine De Saint Exupery
―People who don’t take risks generally make about 2 big mistakes a year, people who do take risks generally make about 2 big mistakes a year.‖ Peter Drucker
―It’s easy to come up with new ideas; the hard part is letting go of what workedfor you two years ago, but will soon be out of date.‖ Roger von Oech
―The things we fear most in organizations — fluctuations, disturbances, imbalances — are the primarysources of creativity.” Margaret J. Wheatley
―Don’t worry, be crappy. Revolutionary means you ship andthen test… Lots of things made the first Mac in 1984 a piece of crap –but it was a revolutionary piece of crap.‖ Guy Kawasaki
―You can’t wait forinspiration, you have to go after it with a club.‖ Jack London
―Think left and thinkright and think low and think high. Oh, the things you can think up if only you try.‖ Dr. Seuss
―Creativity comes from a conflict of ideas.‖Donatella Versace
―Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.‖ Steve Jobs
"All great deedsand great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning." Albert Camus
―Creativity comes from trust.Trust your instincts. And never hope more than you work.‖ Rita Mae Brown
―Life is trying things to see if they work.‖ Ray Bradbury
―Creative thinking is not a talent, it is a skill that can be learned. It empowers people by adding strength to their natural abilities which improves teamwork, productivity and,where appropriate, profits.‖ Edward de Bono
―There are two ways of being creative. One can sing and dance. Or one can create an environment in which singers and dancers flourish.‖ Warren G. Bennis
―When in doubt, make a fool of yourself. There is a microscopically thin line between being brilliantly creativeand acting like the most gigantic idiot on Earth. So what the hell, leap!” Peter McWilliams
―One of the advantages ofbeing disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries.‖ A. A. Milne
―The problem is never how to get new, innovative thoughts into yourmind, but how to get old ones out. Every mind is a building filled with archaic furniture. Clean out a corner of your mind and creativity will instantly fill it.‖ Dee Hock
―Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things.‖ Theodore Levitt
―All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist oncehe grows up.‖Pablo Picasso
―Be brave enough to live creatively.The creative is the place where no oneelse has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. You cant get there by bus, only by hardwork, risking, and by not quite knowingwhat youre doing. What youll discover will be wonderful: yourself.‖ Alan Alda