Finding your competitive advantage

“The only sustainable competitive advantage – for individuals and companies – is creativity,” Josh Linkner author of Disciplined Dreaming.

Josh believes everyone is born with creativity but it’s beaten out of us by over-stretched educational systems, society, family, and businesses. I’ll give testimony to that truth.

Some years back I consciously decided to stop being creative where I worked. I can almost remember the day.

Navigating the maze of organizational structure, seeking approvals, and worrying about turf frustrated me and my bosses. It wasn’t worth the effort. It felt like ideas were inconvenient enemies rather than opportunities. I should have quit that day.

The Bad News

We are losing what makes us unique. Since 1990, creativity indicators have experienced a “very significant decrease” (Researcher Kyung Hee Kim*).

Reclaiming your competitive advantage

Josh Linkner

Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen says, “… Creativity is close to 80% learned and acquired.**”  I asked Josh how we can reclaim our creativity. His book is filled with ideas. A couple bubbled to the top.

Give your people idea-time.” Josh Linkner has the audacity to suggest companies give employees 5% idea-time every week. For the math challenged, that’s two hours from a 40 hour work week. Take two hours a week and turn off tasks. Go for a walk, listen to music and just think of ideas.

The 30 day challenge

Josh says, “Try it for 30 days.” He believes idea-time works. If after 30 days, you don’t notice a positive difference then kill idea time. Does the thought of killing idea time sound counter-productive?

A simple awakening

Linkner suggested another simple approach to awaken your curiosity. Write three questions on a 3X5 card and always keep it handy.

Why?

What if?

Why not?

Have those questions been beaten out of you? Asking them may help you reclaim your competitive advantage.

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What can individuals and organizations do to enhance their creativity?

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*Po Bronson and Ashely Merryman, “The Creativity Crisis,” Newsweek, July 19, 2010, p. 45

**Clayton Christensen and Hal Gregersen, “The Innovator’s DNA,” Harvard Business Review, December 21, 2009.

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