The Power to Create
Although more than 86 years have gone by since his last breath, much of today’s modern life conveniences owe their origin to the innovative spirit of Thomas Edison.
With more than 1,090 patents to his creative ledger (the incandescent bulb, cement, phonograph, motion picture camera, the curling iron – to name but a few), Edison was a pariah of his time. Why pariah? Because Edison beat to a different drum than the majority of people who walked this great Earth back then and still to this day.
You see Edison knew that our Creator does not mock us, we do not have thought impulses of what is possible without the ability for each of us to make our visions/ideas/dreams a reality. But how?
A Cup of Coffee and a Bulb?
When Edison created the incandescent bulb he did not stumble one morning down his staircase, pour a cup of coffee, rub his eyes and see a working light bulb on his kitchen table and say, “Oh wow, that looks great, I think I will make one of those!” In fact, quite the opposite happened.
Edison had a vision/a dream/idea in his mind’s eye of the incandescent bulb and he stayed with his vision in his inner world – doggedly, I might add – until that which he imagined in his inner world manifested into reality in his outer world.
From the Darkness into the Light
Like all true, authentic leaders, Edison understood the ultimate gift of life; a gift bestowed to you, me and every Homosapien that walks this Earth – The Power to Create. Dogs can’t create, cats cannot create, orangutans cannot create but you and I and all those you lead (in business and/or in your personal life) have the power to innovate/create.
Like all authentic leaders, Edison embraced the gift of life and used it every day to imagine a world for himself and humanity not from the viewpoint of what it was, but from the vantage point of what it could be! And by doing so, literally helped us all to move from the darkness into the light!
Individual and Team Organizational Success Demands Innovation
It is a known fact that individuals who live the happiest and most productive lives use their Power to Create consistently throughout life; meaning they consistently envision their career goals and personal goals each year and move steadfast toward them through daily action until they achieve them; and once accomplished, they reinvent/recreate themselves again.
However, far too many among us fail to use this majestic gift bestowed upon us all and as such, lead lives void of enthusiasm, energy and accomplishment. The question is why? Why do so many fail to use this gift? And the answer is quite simple: most of us have never been encouraged, shown or taught how to.
It is also a known fact that the most successful organizations, from the very beginning of the industrial revolution, owe their origin to success based upon their ability to innovate and create.
Those that consistently do, earn far more than safe passage to survive, they embody the quintessential secret needed to thrive!
The business landscape from across industry holds countless examples of iconic companies that embody and apply their organization’s ability to create/innovate. Many of these companies (Facebook, Google, Amazon, Uber, etc.) etched into the collective consciousness of every person living in the modern world did not even exist 25 years ago.
Unfortunately, the business landscape is also littered with once iconic companies that no longer exist today or are on life support systems because of one simple truth: they failed to recognize and embrace their ability and need to consistently dream, imagine and innovate.
I live in Rochester, NY, home to several of history’s most iconic companies of all time. A quick example of two:
- Kodak – At one time, the most recognized brand (the yellow box) in the world, innovating and ultimately dominating the film industry.
- Xerox – At one time, the world leader of the print industry, a stature achieved through the power of innovation.
However, eventually both companies took their tumble from grace. The saddest part of their respective stories is that their demise did not come about because they did not have the creative path forward (Kodak invented digital pictures and Xerox invented the mouse, computer icons and the next generation of business communication); they failed because they forgot the secret that remains to this day hidden in plain sight for all to see and embrace – the need to consistently innovate and create!
Five Keys That Unlock Your Organization’s Ability to Innovate
Although we could discuss many strategies that will help you unshackle the innovative powers of your workforce, below are five powerful keys that will make an imminent impact:
- Make innovation/creation a cornerstone of your corporate culture. How? By educating each and every employee about the greatest gift we each have ever been given: the power to dream, imagine and create. This can be readily done each day by you, the leader, seeking examples internally and externally where industrious people have overcome challenges, solved problems or simply found a better way. Capturing and sharing these stories often with your team is the most powerful stimulant you can apply each day.
- Build a working environment that recognizes, rewards and fuels innovation/creation. How? Set up and instill “suggestion boxes” in every single department in your organization. Encourage all ideas and recognize and reward those people that contribute ideas that are adopted by your company!
- Recognize, as a leader, that it is a fallacy that you the leader must come up with every single creative idea. The simple fact is, you will not! And the most successful leaders recognize this fact and rather than ignore it, they embrace it. Edison, Ford, Jobs and Gates each led their organizations to greatness through the acknowledgment and execution of innovative, enterprising ideas that were not always their own.
- The most valuable asset each and every organization possesses is the creative talents of their people. In fact, the most powerful, yet most misunderstood segment of the workforce for this treasure is Millennials. Why? Simply put, because Millennials – unlike you and I – have come to age no longer limited by time or an isolated box of knowledge (meaning only knowledge found in books and magazines on our desks or a local library). This generation, viewed also often as a pariah, have access to instant knowledge at their fingertips and know how to capture it in a matter of moments. As such, they have become and will continue to be the most innovative/creative generation of all time. Want me to prove it? Try a new approach in leading them. Rather than tell them the goals, listing the challenges, sharing the strategies to overcome these challenges and directing the steps to achieve the goal; try asking them to help you set the goal, envision the challenges and create the strategies and action steps needed for success! You will be in awe of what you see and learn.
- Last but not least, help your entire workforce to imagine their world and the world around them, not from the viewpoint of what it is, but from the vantage point of what it could be!
Each of us have both personally witnessed and have used the Power to Create…to innovate. I want to hear your story…please write to me.