Five Big Ideas to Drive Creativity and Results

‘You need to hunt down and kill old assumptions.’

November 04, 2013
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Linkner CLC
Creativity is the currency for success in the business world—it’s the one thing that can’t be outsourced, author and entrepreneur Josh Linkner said Monday during the 19th annual CUNA Lending Council Conference in Phoenix.
“Credit unions need to double down on creativity,” says Linkner, a former jazz musician who draws parallels between that art form and small business start-ups.
Like jazz performers, start-up companies often exhibit high energy and creativity, take risks, and explore new ideas instead of rehashing what’s already been done, Linkner says. “There’s no operations manual we can follow to find success. Raw creativity is driving business forward.”
Consider the case of DollarShaveClub.com, which took on the likes of one-time market leader Gillette by selling low-cost razors online. The owner launched the business about a year ago, spent $4,000 on a creative promotional video that garnered three million viewers—and attracted 17,000 customers in a week.
“He was the jazz musician of razor blades,” Linkner says. “If that disruption can happen through raw creativity, just think what credit unions could do—and what risks do they face?
“The lesson is, no matter how successful we are, don’t think it’s a permanent condition. Our mission is to be on the forefront and think about what’s next, even when we’re ahead.”
Linkner offers five “big ideas” to drive creativity and results:
1. Encourage courage. Allow staff to be creative without fear of rejection or punishment. “Fear is the biggest blocker of creativity,” Linkner says. “If you can make people safe, you will unleash creativity in your organization. You might get some bad ideas, but you’ll end up with some good ones. Mistakes aren’t fatal; they’re the portal to discovery.” 
2. Shed the past. You need to hunt down and kill old assumptions, Linkner says. “Get rid of what was in favor of what could be. Think about your own lending: Are you doing the same thing as always or are you looking to the next play?”
3. Create vivid experiences. This requires more of an investment in imagination than money. “You don’t have to be stuffy. If you can tell a story that’s different from your competitors’ stories, you’ll benefit.”
4. Reject bureaucracy and think small. Small companies are more likely to take risks, embrace urgency, and find new ideas instead of protecting old ones.
“Think small, like a start-up,” Linkner advises. “How would you approach your business if you were a start-up?”
5. Stand out. Do the opposite of what your competitors are doing. “Sometimes you have to be bold and different to get through the noise.”

View Credit Union Magazine's complete coverage of the CUNA Lending Council Conference.


Rosemary Denny
November 13, 2013 10:46 pm
I had the pleasure to attend this year conference. Josh was dynamic speaker. Love the "why" message.

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory (www.appreciationatwork.com/assess) will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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