Creativity and Impact

by Sandy Nelson on April 10, 2012

Human beings are hard wired to engage and express their creativity. Designers at heart, we seek opportunities to bring our expertise, passion and talent to the playing field—show us a problem to be solved or an opportunity to capture and leverage that aligns with our passions, and we’re right there.

But, just having the opportunity to be creative isn’t enough. We want more.

We want and, dare I say, need, to bring our wisdom and expertise to the game. Having  impact is the ultimate pay off. Passion, expertise, creative engagement and expression, impact—this is a formula that inevitably generates deep commitment, accountability and innovation.

Much has been made in the last year or so about intrinsic motivation. If you have read or listened to Daniel Pink’s compelling argument that people are motivated by intrinsic incentives rather than extrinsic, you are aware of the business case for institutionalizing means and cultures through which creativity may be ignited, unleashed and channeled into impact.

If, by chance, you saw Seth Godin’s recent blog, Organized bravery, you are aware of his contention that “The purpose of the modern organization is to make it easy and natural and expected for people to take risks. To lean out of the boat. To be human.”

These arguments are front and center now because the industrial economy of the 20th Century has been permanently disrupted by the Creative Economy of the 21st. In this brave new world, creativity, courage and audacity are gateways to winning. Scale, pedigree and geography are rapidly falling by the wayside as the ease and costs of entry to competition continue to rapidly and precipitously fall.

Innovation, today, as I’ve said many times before, trumps competition.

Yet, there are still individuals in key roles who are determined to hold onto and protect their historic turf. To continue doing things as they always have.

Let’s be clear here, if your game is resistance and protection, today is a good day to see the writing on the wall—you are at risk of becoming an albatross with little future before you outside of frustration, self justification and searching for the next soon-to-be-disrupted-venture that you hope will provide you with yet another temporary respite from the inevitable.

Why not let this be the day that you let go. Let go of history. Let go of being right. Let go of resentment. Let go of territory. Let go of knowing.

Let this be the day that you join the game that is on and leave the old one. Let this be the day that you decide to bring the full force of your passion, expertise and creativity to the playing field.

This is the day for you to open to new possibilities. Accept the fact that by not knowing, you will find advantage and, strangely enough, security.

Security today follows those who have the open mindset, flexibility, agility and creativity to have measurable impact outside of the expected. Security today evolves from passion, creativity and impact.

Responsibility number one of leadership today is to rigorously and systematically  match talent, passion and expertise with promises and commitments in ways that evoke creative engagement and expression while opening the door to measurable impact. Responsibility number two? Step out of the way.

Sandy Nelson

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