Few of us are creative in a vacuum. We need other people to help spur our thinking, test our ideas and give us feedback. Yet, involving others does mean letting go of at least some control. Notes David Kelley and Tom Kelley (K&K) in the article “Reclaim Your Creative Confidence” (HBR 12/12):
“When you abandon the status quo and work collaboratively, you sacrifice control over your product, your team and your business. But the creative gains can more than compensate.”
I heartily agree.
That philosophy is at heart of how we run Intertech, from the town hall meetings in which our employees give candid feedback and ideas, to our annual partner planning retreat, to meetings with customers, to FedEx Days — we constantly seek fresh ideas, input and new approaches. These steps, taken consistently and according to an overall management strategy, may sound a little plodding and not fit your idea of “creative,” but I respectfully disagree. As the Hungarian essayist Grorgy Konrad once said (as referenced by K&K),
“Courage is only the accumulation of small steps.”
And it takes courage to be creative!
If you’re a leader, it takes even more courage. As I’ve noted in previous posts, leaders must consciously cultivate a work environment that allows employees to take risks, test ideas and, yes, occasionally fail. But if we can do that, we have a much better chance of exceeding expectations and succeeding in spectacular fashion.
Creativity, after all, is not a formula.