Get rid of creative apartheid

A side effect of the rapid change we know today is that no CEO can be an expert of everything, so he or she needs to find ways to unleash the knowledge and imagination of many employees and stakeholders to stay ahead.

Many companies organize innovation in a separate team. A few individuals get a creative role and are allowed the time and space to experiment and create. Sometimes a larger and cross-functional team of talent is invited to participate in innovation journeys of a couple of weeks to a couple of months, where they travel the world for inspiration and spend days in workshops to come up with the next innovation.

All this might work. Sometimes it results in great new business models and new products and services. But it can also harm your intention to drive a culture of innovation.

If you want your organization to be ready for the future, able to make quick changes when needed, able to grasp the opportunities when they present themselves, you have a huge advantage if a large bunch of your employees can think creatively with you. Collective intelligence is often underestimated.

When you leave creativity, change and innovation to the happy few who are also part of your talent management program, you miss out on enormous potential. I’ve seen many bright people in my corporate days who had brilliant ideas, but didn’t speak up because they were sitting in the ‘wrong’ department or because they were 50+ or because they looked a bit different… They wanted to be part of the innovation programs, they wanted to share their ideas on how work could be improved, but they weren’t invited to, so they thought there ideas didn’t really matter. Before you know it, you have creative apartheid in your organization and miss out on many bright ideas for change.