Albert Einstein said that imagination is more important than knowledge. A memorable line, but Scotland’s Loch Ness is only 27 miles long and we still don’t know if there’s a monster in there or not. Without knowledge, imagination remains fixated on the unknown and produces fantasy more than discovery. A dominant discourse in organizations today declares that they operate in a “knowledge economy,” that they are filled with “knowledge workers” who create “knowledge products.” What role does leadership play  in that discourse? Gregory Bateson, the British anthropologist and cyberneticist, once wrote something to the effect that conversations are all that people have between them. Perhaps one role for leadership is to engender those conversations — across silos, beyond functions, unmindful of title or position, seeking the commonplace amid our differences. All of us lead when we interact with one another to meet a challenge for which our current understanding cannot provide an answer. Some people might call that creative leadership. It does not distinguish between imagination and knowledge. It doesn’t have to. It only has to keep the conversation going.

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