“Creativity without imagination is like a car without fuel”

“Creativity without imagination is like a car without fuel”
“Interesting metaphor. What are you trying to say?” *Prasna Rao arrived as I expected. 
“I have been thinking about conversations that I have had with several CEOs. CEOs who express the view that their people are not creative enough.”
“What do they mean by not creative enough?”
“Their people don’t seem to be thinking different. Not enough new ideas on the table.”
“What stops their people from being creative?”
“They think that their people are not bold or different. Their ideas seem to be ‘old wine new bottle’ stuff most of the time. They seem frustrated. Their people are some of the brightest in their industry. Yet they seem to be playing safe most of the time.”
“What is your diagnostics?”
“My suspicion is that the problem is not with the people. It is probably to do with the way in which new ideas are treated in the company.”

“What do you mean by ‘the way in which new ideas are treated’. How are they meant to be treated in your view?”
“In my view, new ideas are like just conceived babies; yet to be born. We must treat them with care so that they grow well and healthy when delivered. But in most organizations, new ideas are not treated with the care they deserve. Instead, they are subjected to harsh scrutiny even before they are born.”

“What do you mean by harsh scrutiny?”
“Hard questions like are they practical ideas? Will they work? How sure are we about success?
Hence people play safe when presenting ideas. They suggest ideas that are unlikely to get them into trouble. They end up playing to the galleries.”
“So where do creativity and imagination come into this?”
“If you want something new that does not exist, you need to use your imagination. It is your imagination that will help you take a flight into your future. And see things that are not yet visible to others. Creativity is all about newness and freshness. It is imagination that will help you in unearthing fresh new ideas. You can’t be creative without imagination. You have to step out of the crease and face some discomfort. In fact, Einstein says that logic takes you from A to B, but imagination can take you anywhere.”

“And that is why your metaphor of the car and the fuel.”

*Prasna Rao is an unusual friend. He appears every time I start writing something. He is almost always there when I am writing my blog. He asks questions that are razor sharp and often makes me uncomfortable. He is relentless until I answer his questions in simple, clear terms. You might find that he is most of the times asking questions that you want to. Thus he is on your side, while he is putting me in the dock. I call him my Uninvited Coach

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