On my previous post, Daring to Dream Again, I spoke about ideas that would snap, crackle and pop just to fizzle away into the night. If you take a trip down memory lane, you will agree that as a child you were more enthused, more connected to your creative side, more willing to take a chance with the voices in your head.
Ask any adult about their dreams as a child, you will invariably get an answer that was fantastical. A firefighter, a pilot, a movie star, a rockstar, a scientist, a superhero, an explorer. I wanted to be Wonder Woman who also was a singer. Our dreams were always big and we weren’t shy about recognition either. My youngest wants to become an adventurer/entrepreneur/cartoonist; join National Geographic and when she is done exploring, she would like to come home to her Smoothie Shop. She loves watching Wild Kratts and visualizes her thoughts in a comic strip mode.
In the words of Picasso, “Every child is an artist. The problem is staying an artist once you grow up.”
As we grow up, we subdue the process of ideation and creation. Companies talk about the importance of creativity and fostering an environment to incubate and develop new ideas but are unable to make the required culture shift to embrace risk and failure.
“According to the IBM 2010 Global CEO Study, the ability to embody creative leadership is among the most important attributes for capitalizing on complexity.
And of the 700 CHROs throughout the world interviewed for the 2010 IBM Global Chief Human Resource Officer Study, 69 percent said they are not effective in developing future leaders. What’s more, 78 percent of HR executives said they are not effective in fostering collaboration and knowledge sharing.
Creative leadership in action enables a wide range of product, process and business model innovations. Organizations will need to act upon three imperatives to accelerate the development of creative capital:
Uncover the key capabilities of the creative organization – Empower the organization’s ability to understand how the world behaves. Expose those individuals who see opportunities where others do not and map out what is found. Connect ideas and people in novel ways. Try many and various ideas. Inspire belief that action is possible. Maintain the discipline to get things done.
Unlock and catalyze the creative capabilities of leaders – Create high-impact, experiential learning tied to real business challenges. Develop inspirational role models who demonstrate accomplishment and empowered leadership. Unleash small, diverse teams to pursue bold ideas in response to challenges. Create work structures and incentives aligned with intrinsic motivation. Promote a culture of inspiring vision built on authenticity and powered by trust.
Unleash and scale organizational creativity – Share information for collective vision. Tap into global expertise networks. Expand management and communication style repertoires. Build ad hoc constituencies of those sharing common goals. Influence collective behavior through real-time analytics. “
Birth of an idea
The brave new world that is unfolding in front of our eyes is more transparent, networked and collaborative. I was at the mall being jostled by frantic shoppers. I walked into a toy store and had a great conversation with the inventor of Spontuneous, a board game about music and lyrics. Rob Ridgeway, a twenty/thirty something genial guy, told me that the idea came up on a road trip in 2009 with family when a trigger word was thrown out and folks jumped in and sang a song. Rob pursued the idea for the next few months.
What’s in a name
Giving an identity to an idea takes it to the next level. Many companies name their projects even if it is a placeholder till the right one comes along. “Spontuneous” popped up in Rob’s head and suddenly the idea had legs. Strong, sticky names are easier to sell to your family, your investors, your team and the consumer.
The rest of the cool story can be read on the company website but suffice to say, it would take a lot of hard work, some serendipity and much persistence to get a prototype, experiment some more and finally get industry validation through three awards. Ideas are like babies, they need patience and faith of the inventor first. A lot of dirty diapers and exhaustion before the community can help. The game was launched on Aug 2, 2010, a year after the idea was conceived.
The game resonated with me; though the idea was new, the base concept was old. Many cultures have musical games. I told Rob that we had a similar heritage game in India where you sing the first few sentences of a song and the person next in turn would have to start their song with the ending note. Antakshari is played all over India on road trips, on family gatherings and subsequently went on to become a popular TV show.
I ended up buying the game for the upcoming winter road trip even though I knew that after playing it once, my kids would lose either the board or the cards or the players.
“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