Leading Blog


Creative People Must Be Stopped

Mostly people say they want big, new, creative ideas. But when you come up with one, they seem to go out of their way to kill it. They act like creative people must be stopped. Wouldn’t it be nice to know where the opposition is going to come from before you ever present it?

In Creative People Must Be Stopped, David Owens suggests that it will come from at least one of six different areas:

Individual—your idea may not be that good
Group—your group criticizes it out of existence
Organizational—it dies in your organization's bureaucracy, lack of will, and fear of risk

Industry-Wide—competitors or even customers torpedo it
Societal—it gets killed by regulation or cultural norms, or—
Technological—it can’t be done with current technology

Owens presents a framework “that will enable us to see in advance the vital factors that determine our chances for success when we embark on an innovation.”

We both lead and manage innovation, says Owens. “Think of the process of innovation as simply a set of steps that will need to be accomplished in order to get from the stage of identifying a problem all the way through to implementing a solution. Along this path, there will be a number of management activities that can smooth progress and make for a more efficient effort.” At the same time, there are leadership-type activities along the lines of emotion, motivation, and mission. He writes:

One of the most important leadership skills is to discern whether the person standing in front of you is asking for your help as a manager or for your attention as a leader. Sometimes explaining the plan, clarifying a goal, or acquiring a resource is enough management to keep team members moving along a path. At other times, they may need something significantly different. They may want to understand whether this mission is truly meaningful given that they heard otherwise over the office watercooler. Or they may need help staying motivated in the face of seemingly endless late nights and setbacks in the project.

He adds a crucial reminder for leaders as it’s easy for a leader to get to the place where you think, “Why are they questioning me? They should just do!:”

Everything we know about leadership suggests that people need reasonable answers to be willing to follow. Of course you can choose not to answer them proactively; but then don’t be surprised when rumor, gossip, and hearsay gathered from around the office watercooler quickly fill the void you have left.

David Owens offers a free Organizational Innovation Constraints Assessment on his web site.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 03:22 PM
| Comments (0) | This post is about Creativity & Innovation



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