The Creative Leap

Back in the early 1980’s, Maurice Starr invented the modern Boy Band with New Edition and New Kids on the Block. His Creative Leap generated tens of millions in profits and delighted the world of pre-teen girls. After the success of these groups, however, dozens of others followed suite in a formulaic manner (one was the bad boy, one was the shy boy next store, etc.) And with each iteration, all the bands seemed to blend together into a sea of me-too players.

Broadway did the same thing for years – following a prescribed, formulaic approach. But recently something powerful has happened. In the Heights (www.intheheightsthemusical.com) and Fela (www.felaonbroadway.com) have broken the mold with fresh, original, powerful approaches. Both shows continue to perform to sold-out crowds and enjoy tremendous praise and admiration from critics and industry insiders. Both of these groundbreaking shows made The Creative Leap .

Too often, creative energies are directed at small, incremental change. Making your product or service, (which essentially is just like everyone else’s) a teeny-tiny bit better or different. Or figuring out how to produce it cheaper or faster. Of course, this commoditization quickly devolves into a price-war with your look-alike competitors driving price, quality, and ultimately value to consumers down faster than you can say the word “unremarkable”.

The companies and individuals that take The Creative Leap end up changing the rules and enjoying tremendous success. Ben & Jerry’s reinvented ice cream. Apple’s iPod reinvented music. Starbucks reinvented coffee. Amazon reinvented retail. BlackBerry reinvented email. Hulu is reinventing TV.

This week, sit with your team and think critically about your industry. Imagine a brand new company that was able to dislodge the old guard (including you) by doing something completely different. Brainstorm ideas that revolutionize as opposed to eeking out an extra quarter-percent of margin. Be daring and courageous. And have some fun in the process.

My company , ePrize (www.ePrize.com), made that Creative Leap 11 years ago by taking the old-school world of promotions and brining it online. As we grew, I had a mantra that we repeated over and over again: “Someday, someone’s going to come along and put us out of business. So it might as well be us.”

While small improvements can be nice, try focusing your talents on the big change for a change. What if you unleashed all that talent that is locked up in your company for a 24 hour period to do nothing but invent the next, next thing? Breaking the mold. Reinventing the industry. Jumping the curve. Changing the world.

Taking The Creative Leap.