I subscribe to an e-mail feed from ChangeThis, a site produced by 800-CEO-Read that solicits and publishes manifestos on a number of topics, including creativity and innovation. Those subjects are of everlasting interest to leaders of all stripes, if I can measure interest by how many voices chime in whenever the conversation turns that way. Mitch Ditkoff, the president of a creativity and consulting company, recently posted a manifesto that described where ideas come from. In there he describes two sources: intuition and rationalism. Ditkoff’s argument isn’t original — it’s the basis for the one of the longest running philosophical debates ever. But anyone interested in fostering creativity and innovation, and that includes just about any leader in any kind of organization, ought to ask: What good is it to separate the origins of ideas into different sources or approaches or cultures or whatever?

Not much good at all, to tell you the truth. Try this instead: Ideas arise from a single source, from the response to a specific problem. When faced with a problem that doesn’t yield to our tacit knowledge, we must create a new idea. If you want to spur creativity and innovation in your organization, or in yourself, all you really have to do is draw attention to a problem and respond. Those responses are the creative ideas from which you can innovate. This isn’t an original argument, either. It’s basic human activity.

Stop idealizing, start inventing.

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