I had the opportunity to participate in part of the planning process for “Creating a Marketplace for Ideas,” the 4th Annual Innovate Columbus forum aimed at preparing local companies for growth, while addressing the issues of risk-taking in a creative culture. It was a collaboration of TechColumbus and Innovate Fischer and because creativity is essential, we assembled an All-Star team of keynote speakers and nationally-known thinkers to address creativity and innovation. Highlights were:
- Sir Ken Robinson, Ph.D., a leader in the development of education, creativity and innovation
- Jeff Dyer, Ph.D., a teacher and researcher who focuses on innovation, organizational change and strategic alliances
- Richard Florida, Ph.D., author of The Rise of The Creative Class and The Rise of The Creative Class Revisited
It was a powerful half day of dynamic speakers. Each of the speakers talked about creativity from slightly different—but all well researched—perspectives.
Sir Ken Robinson’s main points about individual creativity were that:
- Creativity is a learned skill
- We can cultivate this skill
- Organizations can encourage creativity by creating the conditions for it to thrive
As children we were creative. As adults we have the latent potential, but it’s not expressed unless it is developed. The condition in our lives and companies can either encourage or discourage creativity. The question for us is: what can we do to create and modify conditions in our lives and our organizations that encourage creativity?
He defined creativity as a process of having original ideas that have value.
We start by imagining what is possible, or defining the unmet need. We engage the creative process to meet that need. Then, we take action.
Jeff Dyer focused on the Innovators DNA from an individual and organizational perspective. He provided four key skills that are essential for innovation:
- Determining the right questions to ask
- Observing and noticing with curiosity – people who put themselves in new places and situations are more likely to innovate
- Designing and executing effective experiments and learning from them (this can be formal experiments or just exploring new ideas)
- Networking – diverse ideas feed innovation
As an author on Innovative Leadership, one of the key elements we discuss is moving from traditional leadership to the mind of the scientist. Jeff’s list of questions is a really nice summary of what we mean when we talk about this. I personally found his description of this to be very helpful.
Richard Florida focused heavily on cities and what makes them vibrant. He talked about three main criteria:
- Talent development (Columbus ranked 17 in the top 50 cities)
- Tolerance (we ranked 30 in the top 50 cities)
- Technology (we ranked 33 in the top 50 cities)
Florida’s talk focused on the economic divide and, also, characteristics that allow a creative core to thrive. Here are a few points:
- Creativity is happening in the core or center of cities that are rebuilding
- Creative people gravitate toward and interact around ideas and need places to meet and share
- Cities need to bring a broad range of people together – accessibility is fundamental with regard to public transportation, walkability, bike ability, etc.
- The economic divide is damaging our society and can be addressed – how do we engage service workers and leaders to recreate the service industry like what happened with the manufacturing industry a century ago (moving from low wage jobs to sustainable wage jobs)?
If your business requires innovation to succeed, what are you doing as an individual and as a leader to ensure that you are building your own innovation skills? Here are a few questions to consider:
- Do you believe you can nurture your own creativity?
- What are you willing to do personally to build your creative “muscles”?
- What are you doing to create a culture of creativity in your organization?
- Do your organizational systems encourage creativity and reward it? Punish it?
- What are you doing to contribute to the City of Columbus as a creative city?
Possibilities are endless when we allow creativity. As Albert Einstein said: Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.
Where do you want to go?
Are you considering improving your ability to be an innovative and effective leader? If so, take this free online Innovative Leadership assessment to determine where you fall on the innovative leadership scale. If you are looking for tools to help develop your ability to be an innovative leader, check out the 2012 International Book Award winning Innovative Leadership Fieldbook. Metcalf & Associates, Inc., offers assessments, coaching, and workshops to help you and your leadership team become more innovative and effective leaders and improve your organizational success.