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    Leaders Hate the Concept of Creativity

    Painting Title_123SNARK ALERT

    I’m not trying to be snarky. I am snarky. I’ve always been snarky.  I like being snarky, it’s fun.

    Here’s the problem: Being snarky is a bit like being the boy that cried wolf. When you’re being a smart ass just for practice you often stretch the truth. Okay, I often throw the truth out the window to be funny or to shock — but not in this blogg!

    As a creativity and innovation writer I suppress my inner Snark in order to be taken seriously. But now I think I’m doing you a disservice.

    The value of SNARK is it can be a wakeup call. As an innovation thought leader, I’m here to help. You can improve, you can innovate. But you have to face the facts.

    So when I wrote my recent post about the Eight Politically Incorrect Things About Innovation I was actually pulling my punches, trying not to be snarky.  The “truth” about innovation as an expertise is even worse than I stated.

    That’s why I’m going to be a bit snarky here — to get your attention.

    For instance when I said that Leadership Doesn’t Understand Creativity, what I really meant to say is Leadership hates the concept of creativity. Why? Because it represents scary things like change, chaos, and risk, and, uh oh, those icky creative people. Leaders only want as much creativity as is needed to keep the business afloat. Maybe even a little less. They lie through their teeth when they say they want creativity. That’s the PC answer in a CEO survey. That’s creativity in theory. In the real world, in their own organizations — they really don’t want creativity. They really do want innovation but they’d like to skip the creativity step. Leaders are frustrated trying to use creativity — because it doesn’t respond to the levers they are used to levering. They don’t know how to use the concept of creativity because it’s not formulaic. Applied Creativity is frustratingly elusive, it takes time, effort, and knowledge of arcane arts like spontaneous thinking, improvisation, CPS, and design. At times it’s annoyingly painful, deeply painful. Leaders do not want creativity induced pain. It’s true that leadership doesn’t understand creativity but that masks the deeper truth that they are scared to death of it and hate the very concept of creativity.

    A real snarky dude would say that Leaders hate creative people. Wow, I said it. Leaders work hard at hiding that hate, most of the time, but deep down, they can’t stand those loosey-goosey, goofy, wacky, complicated, emotional, needy, fun-loving creative people. Maybe hate is a bit strong, but still, creatives have those bad habits. Creative people come in late sometimes. They resist authority, they question dogma, they laugh too loud and chew with their mouths open. Leaders want creative people to wear suits and ties. They wish they would just shut up with all their freakin ideas. Leaders wish creative people would go into a closet or a workshop somewhere far from the executive offices. They do wish their creative people would create something amazing — but please do it quietly, and without upsetting the cultural apple cart. And for God’s sake don’t mess with operations.

    The truth is: Leaders only want creativity when they ARE DESPERATE. Innovation initiatives are often the child born of absolute panic. I’m talking the white-knuckled, scared-the-company-is going-to-go-under, I’m-going-to-lose-my-high-paid-job kind of panic. When there is a huge emergency that’s when leaders start looking around for those creative people they hate. Under extreme duress they seek the ideas for new products and services that will rescue them. Not a moment sooner. It’s very hard to talk a drunk into AA until they hit bottom. Leaders who hate creativity have to hit bottom before they appreciate its value.

    But Gregg you say — some leaders appreciate and encourage creativity. I say the exception proves the rule. Those hip executives that do support creativity tend to stand out — because they get amazing innovation results. How many companies are getting notably “amazing results?” How many are just getting by? I rest my case. And some of those leaders appreciating creativity are doing it holding their noses (it beats a blank). Others are closet creatives and pretend to hold their noses. It’s a rule that high level business leaders must exhibit disdain for creative people. I’ve seen this even in ad agencies!

    God forbid letting them in the boardroom.

    So, sorry for the snarkiness here, but if you work in innovation and seek to improve these are truths that need faced. I’m just trying to help. Leaders look into your souls. Learn more about creativity and creative people. There are ways to manage creativity. Start by training yourself.

    This blog post and associated concepts make for an eye opening talk or keynote. Hire me, I’ll make you laugh — and cry. I’ll be a little bit snarky — in a helpful way.

    And yes, I have remedies, some of which don’t even involve any drugs, alcohol, laxatives, or improvisational role plays.

     

     

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    Ten Ideas for Using Innovation Film Clips

    I’ve written an article on Innovation in movies – Inspiring Innovation Films: a Top Ten List.  It’s been published on the Innovation Excellence portal — I’d be most grateful if you’d read it and comment over there. Today’s post is a value add to that article with some ideas on how to use creativity and innovation clips in projects and meetings. If you’re an innovation educator, manager, or team leader you may want to consider using clips as training and/or stimulus tools. I’m a big one for keeping things entertaining no matter what you’re doing. Movie clips are a great way to do that. Here are Ten Ideas on how to integrate film clips into an innovation project: Send out a

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    Love a Meeting Planner Day

    As Valentines Day approaches I’m reminded that everybody needs love. Even Meeting Planners. I’ve worked with many different meeting planners over the years and it’s a tough job. Endless details. Complex challenges. Ego’s to manage. Negotiations. Speakers to hire (ahem). Clients to please. Sore feet. Migranes. Exhaustion. Pre-meeting anxiety, post meeting collapses. I do appreciate Meeting Planners, but I wouldn’t want to be one! And always the unexpected. No matter how well planned an event is, something always happens that is unpredictable. Meeting Planners are often very creative in resolving problems. So, today January 30th, is Love a Meeting Planner Day. Why? Because I said so. I declare it. How to show the love today?  Here are 10 ways: Thank

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    Ideational Speaker, Gregg Fraley

    I do keynotes on creativity and innovation topics — and this is not something I hide. It’s all over my website and I do my best to promote my speaking on FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and in my blog postings. So, it’s not unusual for me to be confronted — at a cocktail party or a business meeting — with the comment: So you’re a “Motivational Speaker.” It’s a fair observation, but it’s really…inexact when it comes to describing what I actually do. It’s not Wrong, but there’s more to my speaking than motivation. My talks are about ideas, so really, I’m an Ideational Speaker.  Yes, I make an effort to motivate people to be more creative and innovative. So, I

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    Spontaneous Thinking and the Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, Jonathan Winters

    “If your ship doesn’t come in, swim out to meet it.” Jonathan Winters Last week, a personal hero of mine, Jonathan Winters, passed away. He had a long, full, complicated, crazy, and indeed, mad, mad, mad, mad, life. If you don’t know who he is or why I’d be doing a post about him in a creativity and innovation blog, please just go to YouTube and watch this. If you really want to snort milk through your nose, try this one. Winters was a comic genius, a creative tour-de-force, and, a man who “used” his affliction with bi-polar disorder positively. He was one of the first public figures to admit to treatment for mental illness having “gone to the zoo”

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    Destructive Intelligence Limits Innovation

    My illustrious partner at KILN, the subtly dynamic Mr. Indy Neogy, MBA, has penned a very insightful piece on how research and analytical intelligence actually hoses innovation. Hoses, a term I’ve borrowed from Bob & Doug McKenzie, means “screws up” or “ruined”. To read the full piece click here. I did an illustration to go along with the words, which I’m posting below because it’s a bit of fun.* By the way, KILN is an innovation services company — I’m proud to be a founding partner. Indy’s article and my illustration are to be found in KILN’s newsletter Kindling — brain food for your innovation efforts (sign up here to get it via email). That’s all for today folks, but read

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    Dying is Easy, Starting Creative Projects is Hard

    I’m in Cincinnati visiting for Christmas and coincidentally have been invited to the First Annual Cincinnati Comedians Homecoming Show. I’ll be going to Funny Bone Newport, KY tonight and hope to see a few of my old colleagues from the early 80′s, back when I was doing stand-up. People often ask me what doing stand-up was like, so, here’s the story, but with a twist. I’m going to relate it to starting anything creatively challenging. In the late 70′s and early 80′s comedy went from a somewhat quaint and staid art practiced mostly in the Catskills and New York City to something more akin to rock and roll. The influence of Saturday Night Live and the late, great, seminal comics

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    Do You Want Innovation or a Dirty Martini?

    I’ve been following some interesting posts lately by Paul Hobcraft regarding management engagement in Innovation. Paul’s posts have a lot to do with the concept of engagement. It inspired the attached cartoon. I think many high level executives simply don’t know what they have. Until it’s too late. There are a lot of smart people out there, with great ideas. Talent is something you need if you really want to innovate. And yet, really, most organizations already have that talent. No, not every employee is Jony Ives and is an impact player at that level, but nearly every company has some people that, under the right circumstances, can hit home runs (score goals, set records, win gold, etc.). Ives himself

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    Secret Wish #11, Creative Goofing

    Is there a value to goofy, no purpose, experimenting? Does it make you more creative? I think yes. Madge here wanted to be goofy — and see if anybody noticed. Nobody noticed. She didn’t care. She felt better and got off the train with a giggle in her heart. Creative tip: giggles in your heart are a good thing. Have them. Make them happen. Toodles.  

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    Michigan Innovation — Gonzeaux Tour Begins

    Three Oaks, Michigan, Monday May 7 — Gonzeau Tour Begins I’ve spent a frantic weekend preparing for the Gonzeaux Tour trip to Florida to attend the FEI 2012 Conference*. Two requests for proposal came over the transom on Friday and they required weekend work, and a lot of it. I had hoped for a bit of peace and thoughtful packing prior to what might be a week of cheap hotels, crashing with friends and family, but it was not to be. So, the first leg begins in an hour and I haven’t even packed a bag yet. I do have piles of stuff to take: KILN IdeaKeg boxes, large mural paper, Post-it’s, iPad, iPod, Garmin, pocket knives, sunflower seeds, water,

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