Keepers Trait #5 – Creativity

sinksFor my birthday, my son took me to a new restaurant in downtown Ft. Myers, Florida, near where I live.  Ft. Myers was winter home to Thomas Edison. While here, he invited close friend Henry Ford down for a visit. Ford liked the place so much he bought the house next door to Edison. The estates are now a historic site and have prompted a number of Edison and Ford themed businesses. One of the newest is called Ford’s Garage, the restaurant we visited on my birthday.

The entire place is cleverly done, from the vintage Model T hanging over the bar, the shined-up institutional furnishings. The napkin rings are hose clamps. The thing I found most creative was the faucets in the bathroom. They are gasoline filler nozzles connected to the water lines with black rubber hoses.  Everywhere you look there is creativity.

This is not a plug for Ford’s Garage. It is an appeal for Keeper Trait #5 – creativity.

“Creativity means making something new or rearranging old things in a new way. “

The operations of any organization, large, small, commercial, or non-profit all require people who can solve problems, tackle dilemmas, and inspire customers. We have become bogged down by data and analysis gained from gathering preference statistics and conducting focus groups.

Anyone who has stayed in a roadside hotel can spot it. Rooms are totally lacking in creativity. They all are about the same size, have the same style of furniture, are appointed with a bed, a desk type of area, a counter to put suitcases on, an mini-bar, and a flat screen TV with remote. The colors and décor may vary but the basics are there.

Spurs to creativity, says Vance, are change, stress, and excess. “Moderation kills creativity.” Average people can achieve great things, he promises, when “they’re pissed off” or “they’re on fire with a cause.”

Now, most of us are not in the business of designing new businesses or redecorating apartments. The most likely venues whenever we talk about creativity are in design businesses, graphics arts, or architecture. But creativity is a keeper trait for every business or organization.

Why?

Because there are three basic premises to creativity:

Premise #1 is that “A” must equal “A”. “A” cannot equal whatever you want it to equal. If creativity means making something new or rearranging old things in a new way, one must know for certain what the old thing is and one must know what already is so that something new can be fabricated.

Premise #2 is the Law of Cause and Effect. Creative people understand the difference and are able to sort the differences out.  They know that most people will deal with effects but seldom get to the causes. Creativity comes in when they begin to develop solutions to problems, a highly useful and oft-needed skill.

Premise #3 is the principle of influence. Leadership is influence. People willingly follow because they are influenced by someone (positively and negatively). Influential people are people with ideas. Ideas require creativity. People with ideas are moving towards leadership. People without them are moving away. There is no such thing as leading from behind. One may fall behind. One may lag behind. But whoever is at the head is leading. Influential people are idea people.

There are two manifestations of creativity. On one hand, there is artistic and scientific creativity. Those are the Thomas Edison, Steve Jobs types who come up with brilliant ideas. I had a business partner once who was very creative. He could design a machine for our shop where no such existed.

On the other hand, there is creative problem-solving – the ability to overcome obstacles by approaching them in novel ways. This is the kind of creativity that comes in most handy in the business world. This is the kind we will find most useful to most applications for us. Success magazine recently ran a good article on this here.

Chanting once again my mantra about the purpose behind hiring others, let’s all say it together. We gather associates because they:

  1. Extend our reach.
  2. Multiply our effectiveness.
  3. Divide our work.

Creative people are idea people. They see solutions, embrace objectives, and find a path through. They are eyes through which we can see farther, ears by which we can hear more, and arms by which we can reach out more.

Keeper trait # 6 is organization. See you on Thursday.

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