Creativity Kiosk: Throwing food away.


What’s the purpose of going shopping for food if all you do when you get home is throw it in the garbage? You don’t do that with the food you buy – so why are you doing that with your ideas?

…executives complain that when it comes to what business really needs – new ideas about how to stay competitive in a rapidly changing marketplace, compete with companies abroad, and get more shelf space for their products or new ideas for innovative and useful products and services – the graduates of business schools often fall short. In other words what they are not learning is how to be creative in a rapidly changing world.

Robert J. Sternberg and Todd I. Lubart in Defying the Crowd: Cultivating Creativity in a Culture of Conformity

Business schools aren’t the only ones at fault. Business itself, in my opinion, is more to blame for crushing creativity than are the schools. All too often, businesses ridicule creativity, brush it off as not important, and state that those truly creative ideas are impractical or impossible. In doing this, they push the resource that could most impact their future (their creative employees) right into the arms of their competitors. Sternberg and Lubart later point out in the book that research reveals that business people think creativity and wisdom are on opposite ends of the scale – and never shall the twain meet. But, in reality, creativity has nothing to do with wisdom. Some wise people are creative. Others aren’t. But when you are a creative person interviewing for a management position, that creativity is more likely to hurt you than help you.

If you know an HR manager, send them this URL. Buy them Sternberg and Lubart’s book. Who knows what results may happen – you might help them turn not only their business on edge, but the whole business world!

But don’t stop there. Start by changing yourself.

Have you ever had a great idea that stopped you in your tracks? You knew it was the perfect solution to a problem you were facing. Then the phone rang. Or the traffic light changed colour. And then, before you knew it, you couldn’t quite remember all the details.

This situation has happened to each and every one of us. If our ideas were food, we would have just taken the finest of meat, the most expensive filet mignon and then, instead of taking it out of the grocery bag and placing it in the refrigerator, we tossed it into the garbage!

Don’t toss your best ideas! Instead, store them in a pantry where they are at your fingertips, ready for when you need that “special ingredient.”

How do you do this? By doing what Da Vinci, Edison and others did – keep an idea journal with you at all times.

I have several small, inexpensive notebooks that I keep in my purse, by the phone, and on the car seat next to me. I stick a pen in the coils of each notebook. Every time I get an idea, I write it down immediately. Then I go back to whatever I was doing before and temporarily forget about this great idea.

This works because I don’t just forget about the idea after writing it down. Every so often, I’ll open up the book and read through the ideas. And reading the ideas will spark even more thoughts. I rethink, turn an idea over, try to improve it, and plan for implementation.

This doesn’t take a lot of time. It doesn’t cost much. And yet it provides huge benefits.

So, go on and stop at that office supply store instead of driving by. And pick up four or five small notebooks and pens for all those great ideas that you aren’t going to throw away any more. I dare you to see the difference it makes!

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