Thursday, 16 November 2017

Value, Listen and Encourage Innovation and Creativity - From Day One

“From the Moment I Could Talk, I was Ordered to Listen” sang Cat Stevens in his hit “Father and Son”.

I wonder what the industrial, financial and artistic cost is of the sentiment expressed by Cat Stevens?

We enter the world free of prejudice and free of inhibition. From virtually minute one, the process begins to dampen the expression of our creative mind. We are programmed to keep quiet about  thoughts we assess others may view as being “alternative”.

The general inclination is to tell us what not to do and what we cannot do. Our uninhibited imagination, or at least the freedom to express our imagination is dampened from very early on.

Many businesses talk about the want for feedback, for ideas from all staff. The reality is, almost all suggestions are shut down at the next level of Supervisor. I hate to think how often I have heard it said:

“We tried that and it doesn’t work”.
“Great idea but insert reason

And my favourite:

“Leave it with me”

We default to instruction ahead of encouragement. We have evolved to be better at saying what not to do rather than what to do. We do this as parents, leaders and educators.

Our dialogue may indicates we value new ideas and innovations but our actions rarely reflect this.

We prefer to avoid change rather than seek it and profit from it. We are programmed this way from our early years.

Just imagine the intellectual power, the creativity and he awesomeness that remains untapped in an organisation employing 50 people. What about 1000 people?

From a young age, we are “facilitated” to value the status quo, adhere to someone else’s expectations and conform. We stifle our creativeness, or at least keep it to ourselves.

We learn that encouragement to speak up, express an alternative opinion is not genuinely valued, so we stop doing it, or maybe never start.

Imagine if Cat Stevens had sung:

“From the moment I could talk, I was respected and listened too”.

The discoveries would be limitless, the positivity boundless and the world a better place, societal, family and business.

It is never too late to start to change the world, one attitude at a time. Perhaps a good place to start is to eliminate the word "don't" from your dialogue. After all, it is only possible "to do something", meaning it is impossible to "not do something".

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