In our last Fortune Roundup we featured a blog post from Wally Bock, Idea Deficit Disorder – Treating Yourself, in which Wally argues education can condition us to believe there's only one correct answer to a given situation, and that this saps much of our creativity in business. But, Bock says, "creativity is a natural part of being human". So to help counter this mindset, he offers some practical suggestions for how individuals can put themselves in situations that reignite personal creativity.
Business leaders however cannot leave it to individuals alone to tap their creativity; critically they must develop the environment in which it can flourish. As a leader, it's vital to the long-run performance of your organisation that you encourage (your) people to access this "creative time". When people are not embracing their creative potential, businesses and teams become stuck in a state of 'active inertia' – never moving forward, never changing, never improving. Inertia becomes a powerful magnet because whilst there may be activity that gives the appearance of change, so often it's delusional. If you've never experienced active inertia it feels like swimming in peanut butter.
Why does the success of every organisation ultimately hinge so much on people's creativity? Because the lifeblood of every enterprise is ideas!
However, our organisational capacity to change (take action), adapt and grow has been heavily influenced by a formal education system that instills in us a right answer/wrong answer mentality. The more an idea or way of doing things is engrained in us, the more we can be deluded into believing it's the only way of doing things, which of course by default becomes the right way! So if it's the right way, by contrast, alternative ideas/courses of action become the 'wrong way', powerfully reinforcing a natural inclination to resist change. Yesterday was good, why do we have to go to tomorrow? In fact, as Steve Brown discusses in Leadership In Action (view change leadership system preview), when confronted with change people often experience the feeling that they'll have to give something up. When people have mindsets such as this it's little wonder implementing organisational change is challenging, and instilling the idea of change and growth as a competitive imperative, even more so!
Of course the reason it's challenging is because fundamentally, action (change) is always preceded by dissatisfaction. Which is why leadership is key. When effective leaders instill purpose, energy and urgency into the cause of organisational change in pursuit of competitive advantage, they also know they must support the discomfort it creates by facilitating and selling the change. Effective leaders believe, not just intellectually but gutline, that if you're not growing you're decaying because nothing is ever static. Part of a leader's responsibility is to bring people with them in the change process by helping them discover the value in it for to them.
As a leader, create a culture that eschews the right answer/wrong answer mentality by actively encouraging people's creativity and curiosity. By doing this, you will develop a team that is open to new ideas and embracing change as the norm.