Enthusiasm is not enough for change

The current political enthusiasm for creativity makes permanent and successful change more likely but not inevitable. Indeed it could be counter-productive because piecemeal attempts at creativity can fail. Organisations need a strategy for catalysing creativity: enthusiasm is not enough.

Participation from people across boundaries and multi functional professional teams needs careful organisation and facilitation. By way of analogy: left to nature, broad bean seeds spread runners over the ground but produce little nutritious food: the wise gardener places canes beside the seeds and ensures that the growth is upward not outward.

Helping organisations to become lean, focused and “learned” requires a strategy for creativity, otherwise human potential is wasted. New forms of organisation require cooperation, consensus and new working rhythms. Changing organisational cultures and genres is hard. New metaphors are needed to help people focus on their individual and collective roles.

But all is not gloom and doom. Eight hundred Open University MBA students currently study B882: Creative Management. (This is being relaunched shortly as Creative Organisations.)

Forty-five organisations, from all sectors of industry are creatively working on innovative supply chain development and car distribution programmes. Creativity has enabled the design-to-launch of new cars to be reduced from 40 to 15 months. How? Leadership from the change agent, a commitment to growth and jobs, a “just do it” culture and the tools to plan, facilitate and follow up the changes which result from experiential learning.

Because of the quality movement, most of what we do inside “our box” is OK, so where is the stimulus coming from which will fuel our enthusiasm for creative change? My thesis is that sustained creative cultural change is more likely to occur if we learn by reflecting deeply and creatively on any successful “out of the box” events rather than overcoming our “in the box” constraints.

Denis O’Brien


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