The Mismatch

In most free-market economies, there is a supply/demand equilibrium. In other words, if people want to buy potato chips or electricity or sporting goods, suppliers generally emerge to fill these needs.

It strikes me as odd, however, that there’s a mismatch going on in the business world. According to an IBM study last month of 1500 CEO’s across 60 nations, creativity is the single most important leadership attribute needed for business success. And in an Accenture study earlier this year, “89% of executives agree that innovation is as important as cost management for high performance.”

Based on this extreme demand, you would think there’d be hundreds of very sophisticated systems and processes to help business build and nurture their creative capacity. After all, there are systems processes for everything in the business world – from how to answer a customer complaint to how to set the alarm to how to take out the garbage. There’s ISO 9001, Six Sigma, and Lean Manufacturing. Yet there is no widely-accepted, systematic approach to creativity and innovation.

In most companies, the single most important ingredient for success is left to happen by chance. There’s no process or system; it just “happens” in the shadows. Business leaders are expected to just be creative with no training, system, or time allocation for this mission-critical activity.

To make matters worse, we live in a left-brain world (linear, analytical and computational thinking). We attended left-brain schools, went on to left-brain universities, and primarily work at left-brain jobs. Our over-developed skills in this area dwarf the often-ignored capacity of our right-brain thinking (abstract, creative, non-linear). Our left-brain systems, process, bosses, and instruction manuals are abundant while the support for our creative right-brain is in short supply.

So where can you turn to ignite creativity?

My website,, is packed with free resources and tools to help you build and nurture your creative capacity. My upcoming book, Disciplined Dreaming (coming in Feb, 2011 from Jossey-Bass) will offer the business world a detailed blueprint for developing these skills. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you on this subject. What are your needs? What techniques and tools have been helpful for you over the years? Where are the soft-spots in your business or career, and what would be helpful for you as you pursue your own goals?

Speak up. Ask for help. Let’s start the dialog right here at to enable all of us to expand our creativity, imagination, and original thought. Ladies and Gentlemen, let the conversation begin…