It’s time to take action on the big C. And no, I am not talking about cancer, but another word that most leaders are unable to say: creativity.
Yet, this is a great paradox of organisational life. Leaders espouse in survey after survey that innovation is one of their top three strategic priorities.
But talk is seemingly cheap because the motivation of innovation is creativity. Yet no one in a position of power seems willing to utter the all-important word.
In advertising, we may have creative directors, but in the corporate world we have innovation directors. What is the difference?
About a decade ago, when I was teaching at a business school in Sydney, I developed a subject that I called "marketing creativity".
The subject was approved, subject to a name change! Couldn't I call it "marketing innovation", for example? Thankfully resistance was not futile and the subject became one of the most popular post-graduate electives at the school.
What is it about creativity that sends shivers down the spine of the most seasoned executive? This is even more confusing when the most valuable and profitable companies are often the most creative (such as Apple and Dyson).
And why does it matter?
The answer is clear: because language is important. If leaders cannot talk about ideas, imagination and passion, the inspiration for achievement, how can they expect others to talk about these concepts with the same engagement and enthusiasm? How can they instigate innovation without talking about the role of creativity and intuition?
Here are my thoughts as to why creativity is the word that dare not be spoken:
- It is not taught at business school.
- Creativity sounds subjective, which is the opposite of a rational business manager.
- For some strange reason, many leaders are uncomfortable with their creative abilities.
- Creativity cannot be controlled or planned and this may mean a loss of control.
- Australian leaders could have cultural insecurity about creativity, compared with their US counterparts?
- Finally, creativity involves trial and error, with no proven trail of success – this, again, is an uncomfortable position for many leaders.
Therefore, I am on a mission, and this mission is to encourage leaders in Australia to embrace the word: creativity.
I aim for them to commune about it constantly; to nurture and recognise its importance in success and ongoing achievement in the corporate world.
Then and only then will we be able to unleash the true potential of every person, team and organisation in this nation.