When we think of creativity, we picture a composer or an artist at work on a masterpiece. But creativity is a new approach to anything. Earle Dickson, an employee of Johnson & Johnson, married a young woman who was accident-prone. Johnson & Johnson sold large surgical dressings in individual packages, but these were not practical for small cuts and burns. Dickson put a small wad of sterile cotton and gauze in the center of an adhesive strip to hold it in place. Finally, tired of making up these little bandages every time one was needed, he got the idea of making them in quantity and using crinoline fabric to temporarily cover the adhesive strip. When the bandage was needed, the two pieces of crinoline could easily be peeled off, producing a small, ready-to-use bandage.
The firm’s president, James Johnson, saw Dickson put one of his homemade bandages on his finger. Impressed by its convenience, he decided to start mass-producing them under the name Band-Aids. Dickson had been looking for a way to handle a small problem, and in the process, he invented a useful new product. – Three Minutes a Day, Vol. 27, Christopher Books.
I recognized about two seasons ago that I was stuck in a rut and trying harder was not dealing with my feeling of desolation. After taking the time to do introspection, I spotted what was missing was creativity. How do you protect creativity in your organization? Do you welcome new ideas with a sense of “Wow, let’s explore that further.” Or do you kill creativity with “how” questions? “How can we do that? It will cost too much, and we don’t have the people resources to pull this off.”
1) How many people in the US would describe themselves as creative?
2) How many people in the US are living up to their creative potential?
3) Does your company or organization promote creativity? About 2% of the respondents would agree with this statement.
And the results:
- In the U.S., 52% of respondents described themselves as creative, the highest of all the regions. It was significantly higher than France, which was 36 %, and much higher than Japan’s 19%.
- Overall, Japan rose to the top as the most creative country, but Japanese respondents themselves didn’t view Japan as the most creative. Tokyo was deemed the most creative city — cited by 30% of people — followed by NYC.
- Six in 10 people felt that being creative is valuable to their country’s economy, while in the U.S. that number was seven in 10. France was the country with the lowest number of people thinking creativity is very important to its economy — 13%. 
After taking this quiz are you ready leaders to release the creative nature in your people? If so let’s get at it. The process is simple but also complex. It requires leaders letting outsiders shape the future direction of the organization. Are you ready for the next generation to lead change? If you are not then you may miss the innovative ideas your organization needs to adapt to the changing world you are serving.
- You need to be a constant learner, not a critic.
Andy Stanley makes the point that when his church was attempting to study the reason his congregation multiplied one main factor was an openness to new ideas. “I will never criticize something I don’t understand,” he says. Our natural inclination is to resist anything that is new and different and label it as evil because it is foreign to our way of thinking. The moment we stop growing, developing and learning as leaders we stop leading.
Application: What is your plan to continue to grow and learn as a leader?
- Keep your eyes and your mind wide open.
In the opening illustration, there is a valuable lesson to be learned. Often the solution to our problems is developed out of our need to solve a problem. Multi-site ministries grew out of a space problem. Churches were growing faster than their physical campuses could grow to meet the demands. The solution, find another location to meet. It was cheaper than a building campaign and could be a quicker solution to a two or three-year building program.
As you are looking for solutions to an organization that may be stuck in a rut, listen to outsiders. The benefits of outsiders are that they are not bound by our commonly held constraints. Outsiders can see beyond our assumptions. Their ignorance could be your ticket to innovation. Close-minded leaders lead to close minded organizations.
Application: How do you respond to staff who make suggestions about ideas to improve the team? Do you give them a “wow” let me hear more about that? Or “How” closed door response to creativity?
“Wow” ideas to life don’t “how” them to death! –Andy Stanley