I have to confess, I’ve been on the skeptical bandwagon related to Jim Hackett leading Ford Motor Co. The jury is still out, but recently I learned more through a friend who was applying for a job in a new group inside Ford. As I spoke with my friend, he started using words like “creative design” and “human-centered design.” After listening patiently, I couldn’t take it any longer and said, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” Then I asked, “Where did you learn about this subject?” He told me about IDEO, a company with more than 700 consultants working all over the world, that was founded in 1991 by David Kelley. That led me to purchase Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All. On page 145, the authors, David and Tom Kelley, write, “Many years ago, our longtime strategic partner Jim Hackett, CEO of Steelcase …” I’m getting a lot of practice in being wrong.
First, I want to say that if you don’t do anything else, please watch this 19-minute TED Talk that the authors mention in their book.
(Editor’s note: By the way, this isn’t a slam on teachers. If you think about it, how can a teacher with a classroom of 30 students behave like Sir Ken is recommending? However, I bet his conclusion is correct.)
In addition to providing some great suggestions on increasing the creativity of your team, Creative Confidence challenges us to refocus on our customers/clients.
As I reflect on the book, one of the most significant takeaways for me is the concept of “failure.” Do you allow yourself to fail? More importantly, do you give your teammates permission to fail? I won’t recite how many times Edison, Lincoln, and so many other famous people failed along the way, but never gave up.
Instead, I’ll quote Uncle Dan. (For my new readers, he’s my little bro — but more importantly, he’s an amazing dreamer. And very successful, I might add.) Here’s what he told me several months ago:
“In my world, there are no failures. Life is one great laboratory full of experiments providing opportunity for many learning experiences.”
I’ve decided not to summarize highlights from Creative Confidence; instead, I’d like you to ponder a few questions:
- Would you say your company is really creative? What would your customers/clients say?
- Would you say you really understand your customers’/clients’ needs? What would they say?
- How many of your teammates would agree with Uncle Dan’s quote? If I asked them, would they tell me they have permission to experiment and fail?
If you don’t like your answers to any of these questions, I would highly recommend you read David and Tom Kelley’s book.