Contemporary Thinking on Creativity in a Digital Age

0 out of 10 – but well done!

Maybe this statement is a little over the top, but it’s used to counter the traditional approach of many teachers, parents and organisations that success is always about getting 10 out of 10.

Organisations that create a Place where 10 out of 10 is a key measure will learn nothing!

Power to the People

The need for creative thinking and problem solving is nothing new but as we enter the Digital Age it is absolutely critical to success. Yet, in most organisations the traditional leadership approach is taking us in the wrong direction. The Place we need to create starts with a clear understanding that success is about defining and using talent in a different way – to do things that robots and algorithms can’t do. It’s about power shifting from organisations to individuals; leaders finding ways to harness undirected talent and encouraging people to learn fast from mistakes by trying new things.

New Leadership Conversations

The implications for Leadership are clear. It’s not about drum-beating; carrot and stick; or heroic, charismatic individuals. And it's certainly not about sticking to rules, processes and procedures. Instead, it’s about creating an environment where individuals and teams feel that they have real ownership for creative thinking and innovation within a broad framework of new measures. Here are some examples of some areas where your leadership could change the culture by focusing on a different kind of conversation:

  • How confident are we about trying new things to solve problems or create business opportunities?

 (Measure: The volume of experiments going at any one time).

  • How are we learning from our mistakes?

(Measure: How long it takes to turn failures into successes).  

  • How successful are we when taking risks?

(Measure: Ratio of Risk Management to Risk Acquisition).

  • What is our success rate in situations where we don’t rely on doing things the way they have always been done?

(Measure: How many innovative ideas have been implemented).

  • How often are we trying new things, even when we know that the solution has not been 100% tested?

(Measure: Volume of new trials undertaken, where the analysis is incomplete).

Threat or Opportunity

If all of this feels a little uncomfortable, it’s because over the last 150 years, with various stages of industrialisation, most of us have got used to operating as “cogs” in some kind of “factory” machine, where following the rules, processes and procedures is the order of the day, with little scope for creativity or innovation. The good news is that prior to this people were highly mobile, highly creative and highly social.

The Digital Age is not about another Industrial Revolution, but this time on steroids! No. it’s much bigger than that and your job as a Leader is to help people to take advantage of all digital opportunities that are available and become human again.

At Wadenhoe, we have developed a series of checklists, which you can use with your people to help them re-discover their creativity and innovation. To obtain a free copy, please get in touch on: ray@wadenhoeleadership.com.