Bob Lieberman's Blog

Commentary and Tools For Empowering Change

Bringing Creativity Home

I spend a lot of time trying to persuade business leaders of the urgent need to welcome more creative people into their organizations. Now it looks like IBM agrees with me.

In their May 2010 study, Capitalizing on Complexity, based on face-to-face conversations with more than 1,500 chief executive officers worldwide, the researchers found that:
"CEOs saw the need to seed creativity across their organizations rather than set apart “creative types” in siloed departments like product design."
In fact, the 1500 CEOs selected creative leadership as the most important leadership attribute!
"And it’s not sufficient to be prepared for it personally. They must equip their entire organization to be a catalyst for creativity. For most leadership teams, this requires an entirely new set of capabilities."
Take a moment to consider the implications for you personally, and for your business.

If you feel confident in your personal creativity, then your career prospects are definitely looking up. If not, it may be time to start building up those skills and that confidence.

As for your business, I would venture to say that the controls you have in place are making it virtually impossible for creativity to expand beyond the walls of your product design and marketing departments. 

Controls are a major obstacle to creativity – but how do you relax them without losing control of your business? The detailed answer is different for every business and for every business situation, but the general answer is simple: you have to start trying. It is possible to take bold creative steps without endangering your business. And the successes that inevitably follow will point the way to cultural change that will make your business more creative in meeting its challenges.

One key element in this kind of cultural change is the degree to which creative people feel welcome in your company. By creative people I mean those who are not shy about their creativity. They may be musicians, actors, graphic artists, painters, videographers, web producers, or writers. They may be professionals or hobbyists. But they already have the creative perspective that your company needs. You need to hire them and you need to keep them. Unfortunately, most of you are not doing that.

For example, I'm amazed at how little use the business community 
in my hometown of Portland, Oregon makes use of the creative talent that has flocked here over the last ten years. Portland is a hotbed of mom-and-pop web design shops and social marketing startups. But not every creative person wants to be an entrepreneur. And not every creative person looks forward to a career of financial struggle in the creative services industry.

This talent wants a home, and it wants to contribute. What are you doing to welcome it into your company?

(get a copy of the IBM study here.)