The Creative Executive
How Business Leaders Innovate by Stimulating
Passion, Intuition and Creativity
by Granville N. Toogood
Every one of us is by nature creative, but most of us fail to recognize our creative potential. We race through our careers often never recognizing that creativity is as important to business as DNA is to evolution. And when creativity pops up around us we are often quick to mock it. Corporate cultures talk creativity, but the herd favors mediocrity. We sing the praises of individual effort and leadership, but in reality we embrace the committee or the team at the expense of genius.
To be a leader is to forgo the status quo, to make new rules, and to forge new territory. With leadership comes the attendant risk of failure. Because most of us are afraid to fail, we hesitate, and in the end we don't even bother.
In this interesting and entertaining little book, Granville Toogood provides inspiration through anecdotes and amazing true stories to help you get the most out of yourself and others. His stories include those of well known personalities and leaders such as Henry Ford, Walt Disney, Sylvester Stallone and Sam Walton, dozens of CEOs, and even unknown "everyday people" who have made a difference in their lives and the lives of others through creativity.
One of the stories Toogood tells is that of Jeff Bezos:
"Jeffrey Bezos skyrocketed from chump change to billionaire in less time than it took to attend his alma mater, Princeton. The son of a Cuban refugee, Bezos early on began to show signs of the creative fire that would later shape the world's first Internet book order company."
When he was still a preschooler, he became so deeply engrossed in tasks that the teachers had to pick him up and move him - still in his chair - to his next activity. As a teenager, he tried to design a hovercraft from a vacuum cleaner and turn an umbrella into a solar oven. In highschool, he set up what he called the DREAM institute, a summer school program designed to ignite creative thinking in other kids. In college he lunged into computer sciences and soon after that suddenly found himself the youngest-ever senior vice president at investment banker D.E. Shaw & Co., charged with finding cool Net ideas to invest in.
"And it wasn't long after that that Bezos saw an opportunity and quit to chase his new dream. He worked up a business plan, found investors, and set up operations in Seattle. Then he named the new baby Amazon, opened up business on the web, and the rest is history."
Through examples of people who have succeeded through creativity, Toogood notes that people are creative in any number of different ways, and concludes that the simple important characteristic creative people share is a proven ability to make things happen. They make things happen through leadership, innovation, ingenuity and a willingness to take risks. Put all those elements together and you've got a formula for success.
If you are not yet convinced of the value of creativity, here is part of Toogood's story about Steve Jobs, whom he refers to as "the worlds greatest business magician":
"The Apple story is an example of what can happen when you yank the creative leadership and visionary fire out of any company and then just as suddenly throw it back in."
After Job's forced departure, Apple went from being a technology leader and a cultural trendsetter to just another boring computer company that lost its way, but eventually even forgot who it was. A string of CEOs flailed away in a vain effort to put the company back on track, but nothing worked until the board persuaded the master himself to come home and work his inspired magic.
And it wasn't until then that things finally started to turn around for Apple.
Interspersed with the anecdotes and stories, Toogood also provides practical how-to advice, such as the fifteen keys to creativity, creativity workshops, steps to developing intuition. I think everyone will find something that touches them in this book, pages that they will fold down, sections that they will highlight, ideas that they can use time and again. As the book jacket says "this book is for every person who has ever doubted their potential and ability to reach the stars".