Saturday, May 22, 2010

Creativity and Being

According to a new survey of 1500 CEO’s conducted by IBM’s Institute of Business Value, creativity was identified as the most important leadership competency for the successful enterprise of the future. Creativity… that’s nice. I wonder what these CEO’s really mean by creativity, especially in the context of business leadership. Creativity can mean a lot of things: innovation, new ideas, new approaches, invention, or the worn-out phrase “thinking outside of the box”. But rest assured, when a CEO talks about “creativity” they mean doing things differently or doing different things which will increase the value of the enterprise. Here’s the challenge: creativity in business always requires change and change is mostly resisted, not embraced. From my experience in the transportation industry, both as a manager and now as a headhunter, creativity can be a slippery slope for those first in line with new ideas.

So how does one go about creating and implementing new ways of providing transportation, logistics or supply chain management services? First of all, understand that in this space, it’s about execution and efficiency. Nothing says it clearer than Better, Faster, Cheaper. (Cheaper has always bothered me, so let’s say “of more value”.) Think about some of the game changing, creative innovations and business models which have revolutionized the way we move stuff: Containers, stack trains, the Interstate highway system, the Fed Ex model for moving parcels and small packages, the Wal-Mart logistics model for retail, just to name a few. The ways technology is being applied to everything from equipment operation, to inventory management, to freight network optimization. Someone sometime had the idea and the vision and the drive to make these things happen. In some cases, it was someone else’s idea and someone else’s vision and perhaps even some other one’s drive that ultimately brought about the new way of doing business. But the common thread here is that the new way is Better, Faster and “of more value”.

If you have new ideas about how to design, package, purchase, sell, handle, pick-up, transport, inventory, distribute, deliver and/or install stuff; always put that new idea to the test. Is it better, is it faster and, more importantly, is it of more value to my customer than the way we do it now? And all of that still doesn’t get it done, unless you can sell it to the decision-makers and stakeholders. New ideas take time, resources and support (financial and otherwise). Thinking creative is easy. Being creative…now that is the hard part.

No comments: