This column is part of Globe Careers' Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views and advice about leadership and management. Follow us at @Globe_Careers. Find all Leadership Lab stories at tgam.ca/leadershiplab.
People are taught to be cautious and to make decisions based on thorough and rigorous analysis. To get it "perfect".
As a result, the process tends to be long and arduous, and faces numerous levels of scrutiny before a decision is finally reached.
Paralysis by analysis often sets in and the momentum of the organization continues.
In addition, people are taught to avoid making mistakes. They witness how punishment for a miscalculation is handed out to their colleagues and decide that risky actions have too much personal downside; they prefer the status quo.
To counter these powerful anti-creativity forces, leaders can ask two questions and get the creative juices flowing in their organization.
"How do we get there?"
If you know how to hit your target, your "Creative Incentive Quotient" – CIQ – is zero; you have it figured out. On the other hand, if you have no idea how to achieve your goal, your CIQ is high; you have to figure it out.
Creativity is not spawned by applying analytical tools that draw upon historic performance to predict future results. Trend line thinking stultifies breakthrough action as it merely extends past performance with the expectation that the future will somehow mirror it.
It never happens.
Creativity is driven by declaring a goal without knowing exactly how it will be achieved and doing the hard entrepreneurial work to figure it out.
It's about having the intestinal fortitude to enter uncharted waters, pointing your ship in the direction you want to go, and navigating – creating – as you go.
Creativity is killed by not wanting to go forward without knowing how the end goal will be achieved. I see people shut down when confronted with the objective of doubling revenue in 24 months because they don't know how to do it.
They stop, say the objective is "unrealistic" and adopt an uninspiring target that they think they can achieve. CIQ = 0. Creative juices don't flow.
"What do we have to do differently?"
Listen to the conversation that pervades most organizations today: "What is best in class doing?" is the driver of most activity. Benchmarking the leader of the pack and copying them absorbs everyone's time and energy; yet even if you are successful you remain in the pack like everyone else.
Benchmarking is the tool of sameness.
It does not get the creative juices flowing, and you won't separate yourself from the pack. CIQ = low (some juice might flow as some operational improvements are possible based on copying others).
And if you don't stand-out from the pack, what does your long term future look like?
It goes like this: sameness = mediocrity = invisibility = irrelevance = dying = dead (sooner or later).
To be successful in the long run, CIQ must be high; creativity must force you out of the pack and make you relevant and unique.
Creativity is launched by asking these questions: "How can we BE DiFFERENT?", "How can we BE CoNTRARIAN?", "How can we go in the OpPOSITE direction to the leader of the pack?".
The unknown and uniqueness are the drivers of creativity.
What's your CIQ?
Roy Osing (@RoyOsing), former executive vice-president of Telus, is a blogger, educator, coach, adviser and the author of the book series Be Different or Be Dead, dedicated to helping organizations and individuals stand out from the competitive herd.