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Building an Innovation Team with Creatives
Robert’s Rules of Innovation: A 10-Step Program for Corporate Survival lays out a fundamental framework of 10 Key Imperatives to help businesses create a structured, repeatable innovation process. Building upon this fundamental framework, the recently published Robert’s Rules of Innovation II: The Art of Implementation delves deeper into how to implement a culture of innovation in one’s work environment.
As mentioned in The Art of Implementation: interestingly enough, of all the passages in the first Robert’s Rules of Innovation book, one of the passages that got the most input from readers was the section in Chapter V discussing the “care and feeding of creatives”. Oh those creative types! Why are people so opinionated, even impassioned and obsessed, with the creatives? It’s as if the creatives are a special breed on display at a zoo—and the most popular exhibit at the zoo, to boot! People crowd around watching the creatives—with reactions ranging from amusement to mouth-agape awe to furrowed brows and a shocked, confused look—pointing fingers at them, pontificating about who they are and what they do and passing judgement on whether they are good or bad or an asset or a liability to the company. These special people, these creatives—my oh my, what a sight to behold!
And when the leashes comes off these wild creatures and the creatives are let loose in workplace, they often cause paradoxical, “damned if you do and damned if you don’t” opinions and reactions from those around them. The Art of Implementation asks, “Why? Why are creative people, and creativity itself, admired and coveted, yet so often rejected out of hand?”
The book suggests that perhaps part of the obsession stems from the fact that we can’t all be creatives. “The plain reality is that most folks are risk adverse and creative types are risk takers…©reativity can be fostered, or encouraged, but the plain truth is that some of us just don’t have that ability.” People fear creatives because not everyone can be a creative, no matter how much they try. You can’t study, train, buy, cheat, weasel, or steal your way into the special club that is being a true creative. This “hard stop”, this fear of the unknown and unattainable, can be very scary to some.
So you’re not a creative. Big whoop! You probably can’t run a sub-4:00 minute mile or multiply 10-digit numbers in your head or speak fluent, click-consonant Hadza after just a weekend jaunt to Tanzania either! It’s time to focus on what it is that you can do, which is to build an innovation team at your business that is inclusive of creative types. And don’t just talk the (“we need to be more creative”) talk, implementing an organized work culture of creativity and innovation in business requires walking the actual risky, tight-rope walk. Ask yourself whether your organization can really handle the cultural upheaval that creativity/innovation brings or are you only comfortable operating in the same safe, commonsensical manner as you always have? As the old, often-quoted adage says, “Be careful what you wish for, because you might just get it.”
To get ahead, you can’t always play it safe and remain in status quo land because you’re scared. To implement a permanent culture of innovation in one’s work environment, you need to find, recruit, and land the right creative type of people for your innovation team. Let your guard down. You must be willing to embrace and accommodate those who have a different set of skills, values, and way of working. With the creatives you have recruited to join your innovation team, you’ve got to have enough trust to take off their metaphorical leashes. Give the creatives the freedom to push back the status quo and to even obliterate the status quo with a sledgehammer. This freedom will unleash their creativity, ultimately helping to catapult your business into a new role as industry leaders, rather than be left behind as laggard and scared, same-old status quo followers.
To learn more about how to build your innovation team, build an innovation culture at your business, and put a plan in place to implement innovation (and then actually see this plan through to completion), check out the new innovation in business book Robert’s Rules of Innovation II: The Art of Implementation.