Where Have All the Geniuses Gone? 10 Keys to The Creative

By J. William DeMarco

Our world is not black and white.  It’s a world filled with shades of gray, with uncertainties and dilemmas.  As leaders we need to embrace the gray and help others develop the creative wherewithal to understand and live in the grays–making tomorrow’s leaders and the organization better.  If we are to seek a state of normal or conforming to the accepted model, pattern, or standard….leaders are quite happy to just live day to day and not improve.  But if we are not getting better…what in the heck are we doing?  Getting better demands the creative…or original thought….created or invented independent of already existing ideas or works.

How do we train future leaders to be willing to flow without structure, to remain unattached to outcome?  If we open ourselves to the creative energy that is extruded from chaos and found in a “diversity of possible patterns of behavior,”  we would find ourselves truly amazed by the ideas that are brought forward.

Too many times we exist in the rote.  Rote has nothing to do with creativity–Rote is entropy – the degradation of matter and energy to an ultimate state of inert uniformity.

If we don’t give our people a space inside an organization to create…we rob ourselves of incredible rewards. We make our jobs difficult, stretch ourselves thin, stress ourselves out…. sure we may eventually be honored with “executive approval” and then we will work longer hours, take on more responsibility….but what are you creating?

There are indeed tensions between efficiencies and effectiveness, and leaders obsessed with productivity usually have little patience for the quiet time essential to profound creativity.  It’s a dream of dreams to put cows on a milking machine 24hours a day…but that’s just not going to happen.

As a leader, it is yours to figure out how to walk the line between efficiency and effectiveness in order to make the organization better.  I imagine if the creative has never been experienced, this seems like I am hallucinating… there is no other world…you have only experienced the rote.  Wouldn’t a more promising choice be to turn your back on the “overwork-as-an-end-in-itself-game,” and instead enlist the hidden genius within you and/or your organization and develop skills to play like a genius?

Leaders must cultivate and curate ideas in the organization and execute.  Simon Sinek notes… not everyone should be a creative, but we need to find and free the freedom fighters in an organization.

A leader’s world is not black and white.  If an organization is to choose vigor over an ultimate state of uniformity…it must honor and support both the rational exploration of success and the non-rational art of creating.  In the book Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace by Gordon MacKenzie, he developed an office simply called The Creative to accomplish all the above.

A colleague, Adam Dalson, notes a creative organization inside a business ensures that the vision of the organization is not lost and that its actions are vectored towards always achieving that vision. This is accomplished by:

A. Seeking new opportunities for growth/savings through efficiencies and process improvement

B. Combating volatilities and uncertainties that exist within and outside of the organization

C. Improving the interconnectivity and communication inside the organization and with partners

D. Continually examining the strategic agenda

10 guidelines for The Creative:

1. Fight for Understanding:  Every project you touch, seek to understand every aspect and nuance of it. Ask questions. Think critically. Get smart.

2. Stay Focused:  Discipline in focusing on only what’s important and limiting the number of projects The Creative works on.

3. Sweat the Small Stuff:  Be obsessive about the details on solving any issue and unwilling to compromise in this quest to create a fundamentally better organization at the smallest level.

4. Find Ways to be Wrong:  Most of the projects are way outside of the scope of anything you have been trained to do. One of the hallmarks of The Creative is looking to be wrong. It’s the inquisitiveness, the sense of exploration. It’s about being excited to be wrong, because then you’ve discovered something new..

5. Keep the Faith:  If you are doing things right you stand a very good chance of upsetting the status quo.  “If you are going through hell, keep going.” –Winston Churchill

6. Simplicity above all Else.

7. Be Better, and that does not always mean Different.

8. For Better or For Worse……We win and lose as a team.

9. Technology is Our BFF

10. The Bottom Line is – Work Smart

(Thanks Adam for the 10 Guidelines)
Just one of the creative issues from our 100 Operations Group Creative (OGC):  The European Tanker Symposium:  AFN Video Here

3 Replies to “Where Have All the Geniuses Gone? 10 Keys to The Creative”

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