By:  Lori T. Williams, Esq.

I recently read Josh Linkner’s newest book, Disciplined Dreaming, and found his insights very valuable.  I encourage you to pick up a copy of Josh’s book and read it, if you haven’t already.  The book applies to solopreneurs, like myself, as well as large corporations. I think it is a must read for all business owners and employees in Metro Detroit.  I hope you’ll be among them.

Creativity is for Everyone.   It’s not just for the local artist or graphic designer, or your marketing dept, or the CEO, or the office manager, or someone down the hall…… It’s for you!!!

Josh Linkner's photo from LinkedIn

Josh Linkner‘s book “Disciplined Dreaming” is filled with individual and group exercises to get your creative juices flowing.  Be sure to pick up a copy for yourself and your team members in your organization.  In case you don’t know Josh, he’s a New York  Times Best Selling Author, an accomplished Speaker on Creativity, the CEO/Managing Partner at Detroit Venture Partners, and Founder/Chairman at ePrize.

The following points are the essential nuggets I took from this book:

#1) The very fact that an entire industry does something a particular way, is a great reason to explore the opposite approach.

#2) The business world is at a critical inflection point, leaving companies with the dreaded choice of adapt or die.

#3) Strong technical skills, quality and good service once won the game.  Today they are just the ante.

#4) Success in the new era of business is driven by your ability to stand out and be truly remarkable, which requires an ability to tap into creativity; break the mold; introduce disruptive change; dislodge the status quo.

#5) The only sustainable competitive advantage for individuals and companies is creativity.

#6) Business culture is beginning to reward improvisational players who are comfortable taking risks and capable of extraordinary and spontaneous bursts of creativity.

#7) Companies that will win in the future will constantly reinvent their work and seek fresh, new approaches. They will reward risk-taking and originality, which is the new currency for success.  Everyone’s voice will have a greater chance of being heard.  Your ability to improvise and your comfort with risk taking will determine how well you succeed in this increasingly creative culture.

#8) ePrize’s 3 winning strategies for growth after the dot com bubble burst:

  1. Relentlessly selling to target market;
  2. Building a strong brand through third party credibility. Be the expert;
  3. Offer something unique.

-more than an essential survival skill, creativity is the key to thriving in a rapidly evolving marketplace.

#9)   Although most companies begin with a bolt of creative inspiration, it takes real creative capacity to make the choices that will keep an organization energized and growing into the future.

-As a company matures, its focus can slowly shift from creativity to execution.  The new model for winning a better future is to remain on the forefront of innovation.  That requires the creative foresight to know when it’s time to shift investments forward—even if it means sacrificing the golden goose.

#10) Nearly every industry is in the midst of transformation. Careers and jobs are being dislodged and reinvented at a dizzying pace.  To win in the “age of creativity”, you need to nurture and develop your creative skills and become more like an artist than a technician.  Add value in the face of uncertainty.

#11) All truth passes through three stages, according to Arthur Schopenhauer:

-It is ridiculous at first;

-It is violently opposed second;

-It is accepted as self-evident

If you dispute this statement, just think of the evolution of these technology tools:

-Personal computers

-Fax machines

-Cell phones

-The Internet

-The dot com boom

-Social media phenomenon

At first, each of the above tools were rejected.  Over time, they became indispensible.

#12) Your rewards will be based on fresh ideas, improvisation, and a willingness to release your grip on the status quo. You need to be a disruptive force of change, or you run the risk of getting knocked out of the competition.

“There is nothing more difficult to plan, more doubtful of success, more dangerous to manage than the creation of a new system”. (Machiavelli)

#13) There is a system of creativity.  Structure enables creativity.  This “disciplined dreaming” framework will enable you to develop and grow your creative capacity:

  1. Ask:  Ask questions, explore possibilities, awaken curiosity and awareness.
  2. Prepare: Prepare your mind, body, and environment to support maximum creative performance.
  3. Discover: Use a treasure map to uncover creative ideas and bring them to the surface.
  4. Ignite: Light the sparks and develop them into fully formed ideas.
  5. Launch: Connect your analytical side with your creative side and bring your ideas to life.

#14) Most creativity challenges require solutions that fall into 1 of 3 categories:

  1. Breakthrough innovation;
  2. High value change;
  3. Every day creativity

“I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones.”(John Cage)

#15) During the idea generation process, check your left brain at the door. Left brain is used for analytical, logical, judgmental, linear thinking.  Right brain is used for free flowing, creative, non linear thinking.  No editing, critical thinking, or constraints allowed during the creative process.

#16) When engaged in the creative process, keep these commandments in mind and observe them:

1)    Thou Shalt Not Judge: Let all ideas flow without interruption.  Evaluate later.  No Judgment now.

2)    Thou Shalt Not Comment: No negatives or critiques allowed.

3)    Thou Shalt Not Edit: This is for left brain activity later.

4)    Thou Shalt Not Execute: You’re at the idea stage, not the implementation stage. Don’t worry how to bring the idea to fruition yet.

5)    Thou Shalt Not Worry:  Fear is the biggest blocker of creativity.  Create an environment where it is safe to take risks without fear of embarrassment or negative consequences.

6)    Thou Shalt Not Look Backwards:  No comments like “we tried that once and it didn’t work.”  Don’t let the past inhibit your thinking.

7)    Thou Shalt Not Lose Focus: No distractions.  Park any side issue in a creative parking lot and stick with the current creativity challenge or topic.

8)    Thou Shalt Not Sap Energy: Keep the energy high for all.  No blackberry checking, clock watching, or energy sapping allowed.

-If you are in a group setting, make sure all parties commit to these 8 rules before the creative process begins.

“Man who says it cannot be done should not interrupt man doing it.” (Chinese Proverb)

#17) When you are ready to Launch the concept, select your best ideas.  Then test them before fully implementing them.  Set metrics to measure your top 1 or 2 ideas.

#18) Build your action plan with these points in mind:

  1. Budget, forecast, anticipated ROI;
  2. Roles/responsibilities of the team members;
  3. Detailed timeline with clear milestones and checkpoints;
  4. List of top risks and contingency plans;
  5. Resources needed;
  6. Communication and rollout plan.

#19) One idea, big or small, is all it takes to make a difference.  One idea can change your career, company, region, country, and the world.

#20) Creativity Myths:

a. Creativity is only needed at the top

Truth:  It applies to everyone at every level of a company.  It should be part of the company DNA.  Every day creativity applies in all business situations.

b. People are creative or not, depending on their job or role

Truth:  Creativity is something all human beings possess.

c. Creativity is “born”; it can’t be developed.

Truth: Yes, it absolutely can!  At any age, you can grow your creativity.

d. Creativity isn’t my responsibility

Truth:  It is everyone’s responsibility.  There isn’t a job function that can’t benefit from creative problem solving, fresh ideas for the future, or finding a better way.

e. Creativity can’t be managed or harnessed

Truth:  Developing creativity is the primary role you will play as a leader in the 21st century business world.

f. My technical skills and experience are enough

Truth: Creative problem solving, original thought, and imagination have become the currency for success in the new world of business and in life.  Your success in getting a promotion, making a sale, raising capital, or reaching your true potential depends on your ability to embrace and nurture your creative potential.  You need to be able to apply your technical skills in fresh and creative ways in order to drive results in a constantly changing environment.


Who is largely responsible for creativity at your company, and what role do they play?

What creative role do you play in your business?  (There are different types of creativity: strategy, artistic, problem solver, visionary, etc.  Which one best describes you?)

Look at point #14 above,which one of the 3 types of creativity solutions have you experienced at your company?

Which creativity myth (#20) have you bought into previously, and what will you do differently now?

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