All companies make decisions about where to place their bets. We’re all faced with limited resources (time, money, talent) and have to choose where to deploy those resources in order to reach our goals. Although most companies begin with a bolt of creative inspiration, it takes real creative capacity to make the choices that will keep an organization energized and growing into the future.
You may not like it, you may wish things were different, you may look fondly at the past, but none of this matters: the rules have changed. The financial meltdown and global recession of 2009, combined with globalization, rapid advances in technology and communications, population trends, geopolitical movements, and a next-generation workforce, have made the past irrelevant. These changes punctuate the end of an era and signify the beginning of a new one.
You can answer the following questions to gain a clearer picture of the way you currently approach the creative process:
1. What percentage of your time is spent creating something new, as opposed to working out operational details or protecting the past?
2. List five ways that you can beat your competition. How could they beat you?
3. If you were entering your industry as a start-up, how would you break the mold to beat the incumbents?
4. What elements of the past or status quo are you clinging to? What do you need to let go of?
5. How could placing your bets earlier drive your bottom line?
6. List five ways your company is stagnating; for each of these, list at least two ideas addressing how you can break through those barriers.
As a company matures, its focus can slowly shift from creativity to execution. Real customers and employees and vendors demand attention, leaving less time in the day to ponder the universe and think up cool new ideas. The rate of change in the new era of business has dramatically accelerated, and ever-shorter product life cycles put ever-greater demands on creative capacity. That requires the creative foresight to know when it’s time to shift investments forward.
[Linkner, 2011] Disciplined Dreaming