Few things spur creativeness like the will to survive.
I watched an amazing baseball game yesterday. The Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox (yeah, I’m a Sox fan, and they won, but that’s not what made the game amazing, from a creativity aspect, that is). From almost the beginning of the game until the very end both managers did some very imaginative things, mostly managerial decisions that were not by the book, as they say, and in many cases diametrically opposed to that book, better known as conventional thinking.
The Rays manager, Joe Maddon, the most creative manager in the major leagues in my opinion, pulled his starting pitcher before he even allowed a single run to be scored. I won’t go into the reasoning here, but when has that ever been done before, apart from injuries? And Maddon was forced to be creative thereafter throughout the game because of that move AND because his team was in a do or die situation, meaning if they lost the game their season would be over.
The Red Sox manager, John Farrell, a pretty innovative guy himself, was equally creative throughout the game with when he took pitchers out or left them in, in many cases going against conventional wisdom of pitch counts and such, and with pinch hitting and other bold moves, not because he was in a do or die situation, but because he wanted Joe Maddon’s team to do or die.
My point is this: In business we have opportunities every day to do things differently, things that can have a profound impact on the business we run or contribute to. But most days we do the same old same old, because we can get away with it. Because we’re not in a do or die situation. If we had to make decisions that impacted the very survival of our business TODAY we would likely think very differently. Well. why can’t we just think differently anyway? Because, really, every day we are in a do or die situation, it’s just that we’re not as attuned to the subtleties of a long slow death as we are to imminent demise.