To ‘Win The Future’, American Business Must Unlock Its Creativity

“The first step in winning the future is encouraging American innovation.” 

Barack Obama. State of the Union. January 25, 2011.

It's been almost a month and as yet there are few signs that the President's call to action has resulted in any, well, action.

Innovation is often presented as the silver bullet for a damaged economy or a dying business. But even now America produces more talk about innovation than action. No surprise there because this is a long-term problem to which few people offer practical solutions.

In part because of the Siren call of the status quo - an illusory sanctuary in an economic storm. 

And in part because the practice of innovation is fueled by creativity - an energy source that most business owners view as random and unmanageable. 

But creativity is the greenest energy known to man, producing limitless supplies of possibilities and, when managed wisely, turning ideas into action. The definition of innovation.

The challenge - and now the need - is to unlock the power of creativity every day, and focus its energy by designing the capacity for innovation into the organizational architecture of our businesses.

For innovation does not happen by chance. Like any other business process it is one that requires systems and disciplines, encouragement and environment, measurement and management. 

And it requires investment. Not of capital or profit. But of faith. That a process which can not predict what it will produce, is as valuable as one that can. For only when you have built an organization in which the known and unknown sit comfortably alongside each other, can you be confident that you have a business that is viable today and will be relevant tomorrow. 

This is an architectural feat for which there is a clear and proven blueprint. Applied sensitively to the individual culture of an organization, there are practical steps on which to unlock the latent creativity in your company and embed the capacity for innovation.

Later this week, we'll talk specifically about what those are.