Creative Resilience: Working with the Clay of Opportunity

Guerilla Innovation

Chapter 10

In the previous post/chapter of Guerilla Innovation we talked about “amping ideas.” I reviewed two tools for doing so. They’re good tools. And…there’s more to it than those techniques. Idea amping is a way of life for an entrepreneur — and especially so for a small business one. Nobody will do the hard work of making something special for you.

Something in our culture encourages you to quit when things become unreasonable. Yet, entrepreneurship is in many ways being unreasonable with yourself — and accepting the lemons people give you and making lemonade.

Being an entrepreneur is a contrarian state. Unreasonable, in the sense that you go beyond what reason or logic would dictate to you is prudent. As an entrepreneur you have to say “to hell with being prudent.” If you need to stay up until 3:00 am to get a proposal done, spend your last dime to fit the puzzle together, well, that’s what you do if you’re an entrepreneur. You will get push back from those around you. Ignore it.

One way to look at the process of starting something up, creating something, is the old maxim “buy low, sell high.” One usually thinks of that phrase as connected with stock prices or even real estate, but rarely is it associated with ideas.

And yet, that’s what’s happening in the process of business formation. An entrepreneur looks at a situation and where others see unfeasibility, or lack of a point-of-difference, or a challenge too great, or even pickings too slim, they see opportunity. In that transformation of a problem to a solution, lots of ideas are called for. This is in essence Robert Sternberg’s investment theory of creativity — buy low and undeveloped, sell high solutions.

I was made more aware of this theory recently by the work of a masters student Marieke Kooijmans ( who wrote a thesis on creativity. In subsequent conversations about her excellent paper, it became clear to me that while an entrepreneur must indeed buy low, sell high, it takes something special to do that. That something special an entrepreneur must have is the quality of resilience.

Let’s call it Creative Resilience, it’s the flexibility to work with the clay of opportunity. It’s the “how” of buying low and selling high. It’s really not enough to have a great idea. You have to go beyond the great idea and put together a way to leverage the great idea. That means a lot of refinement and solution development. A lot of feedback from customers that might be included. It means working with complex personalities, both on your team and across the table in business.

And let’s face it, most people aren’t very nice about giving criticism or feedback. People can be quite harsh. In the somewhat sheltered world of “brainstorming” where all ideas are allowed it’s easy to let the imagination go wild. It’s much harder, but still very necessary, to imagine solutions under pressure. This is where Creative Resilience can be an amazing asset.

An entrepreneur see’s all feedback as an opportunity to improve his or her idea for a business, a product, or a service. It requires a thick skin and the ability to be positive, resilient, when the  natural reaction would be to tell folks where to get off.

How does one acquire Creative Resilience? Good question, and I think the answer is in self-awareness. If you know what you want to achieve you keep that in mind always, and coach yourself when people are rude, that there is always something to learn in what they say. And you use that to amp your ideas, create your solution.


This post is the 1oth chapter in an online innovation book tailored for small business with the working title of Guerilla Innovation. If you want to start at the beginning and read the entire book, start at the introduction, here. If you want to progress forward to chapter 11, click here. 

The pre-cursor book to this online book on small business innovation (aka Guerrilla Innovation) is Jack’s Notebook, a business novel about creative problem solving.  This is a great story that blends all the concepts of Guerrilla Innovation into one fast-paced, thriller type book. Yes, Jack does Notebooking and a form of Scaffolding as part of the story. Stories are a great way to integrate learning!


Posted in Creative Problem Solving (CPS), Creativity and Self-Expression, Entrepreneurial, Guerilla Innovation, Idea Generation, Idea Management, Innovation, Inspirational, Start-ups