Creativity Lost (and Found)
“Joshua, what do you want to be when you grow up?”
Age 2: “An elephant”
Age 4: “A paleontologist”
Age 6: “A rock star”
Age 8: “A maestro”
As a father, I am pleased to see my oldest son becoming more pragmatic regarding his future vocation. As a business consultant, however, I am saddened by the lessening of creativity. I gotta tell ya, I loved his response at age two. So what happens to us? When we are young, really young, the world is filled with possibilities. Yet, as we grow older, and the world beats on us, we narrow our vision. Actually, some of us grow pretty darn myopic. Helen Keller was once asked if she was sad that she was blind. I loved her reply. “The loss of sight,” she said, “does not sadden me. What makes me sad is when people lose their vision.” How is your leadership vision and creativity these days? Need a little tune up? Well, when I work with teams that need to notch up their creativity, I ask a lot of questions and break out the Play-Doh and Lincoln Logs. This space does not allow me enough words to fully describe the activities, but let me assure you, every team always rises to the occasion and presents creative and pragmatic answers to my questions. While I can’t give away all my secret questions and techniques, I can share a few questions for you to ask your team members right now.
1. What is the biggest thing we are currently doing right?
2. What are two specific positives that result from what we do right?
3. If we could change one thing (that we have the ability to change) what would that be?
4. What are two specific positives that would result from that change?
5. Envision you are our customer. What is one tiny thing we could do or offer that would delight you?
6. As you look at our organization, what is your perception of what we are really passionate about?
Attention leaders: seek to get a brutally honest answer from question number six. Sometimes, the answers received are clearly not what you are hoping to hear. This is not a bad thing. Heck, it may save your company. Take heed to what your people perceive. Listen to their feedback and dreams about your organization. Together, paint a picture of what your organization should look like right now. Not to just survive, but to thrive. What would your organization really look like right now if it was just awesome? An elephant? Who knows? Take your blinders off and find out.
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