Creativity in all its varieties has been on my mind lately. Despite living in Barcelona, one of Europe’s edgy, art-inspiring cities, my imaginative brain limps through occasional bouts of "uncreative conformity."
People have expectations. I do what they want me to do. They’re happy, and my bills get paid. Frequently, I wake up with random outbursts of "conceptual greatness" -- a spark of something that theoretically could take me where I think I would like to go next, professionally or personally. Often, a lack of time, money, or energy plus a fear of failure (or is it a fear of success?) keeps those moments of genius relegated to the margins of my notebook, out there on the fringe of my life.
It’s tough living creatively. Perhaps you know what I mean. Sometimes, it’s just easier to stay the course than to nurture an unconventional, unorthodox, and uncertain idea that may, if acted upon, fail, or succeed, triggering a series of important and necessary changes. So, when I recently read a Newsweek article about America’s creativity crisis, I admit, it gave me an unexpected rouse. Wait, it’s not just me? There’s a creativity slump? Whew!
I kept hopping through links, connecting thoughts, and mulling over what the heck was happening to our collective inventiveness and if anyone even cared. Apparently, people do, especially business leaders. Earlier this year, IBM surveyed more than 1,500 chief executive officers from 60 countries and 33 industries worldwide. My jaw dropped when I scanned the results: Hands down, CEOs identified creativity as the No. 1 leadership competency they believed would help their companies successfully navigate an increasingly complex world.
This got me thinking about what supply chain professionals do on a daily basis. For the record, I think supply chain folks creatively fight fires every day. But, what I want to know now is how well appreciated that leadership skill is on an organizational level, and how far electronics companies are willing to go to bring creative supply chain ideas to fruition.
Arguably, all supply chain successes started with an "Aha!" moment that was cultivated and implemented (either with cooperative insight or with sheer brute force) by a few creative souls willing to pioneer a new direction. I can’t help but wonder if the next big supply chain thing has already been written down somewhere in the margins and is waiting for its chance to be great.
This week’s challenge: What was your latest "Aha!" supply chain idea? What do you need to do to move from “conceptual greatness” to reality? How does your team or company encourage creativity, instill it into the daily routine, and evolve it into something that improves the supply chain process? Post your thoughts here.