In the last few months, I’ve heard real horror stories from people who are deeply affected by the recent upsets in the economy. Others are angered by politics or despairing as they see more and more ecological catastrophes or "natural" disasters. You’ll agree the challenges are great but did you know that Nature expects us to work through these times by becoming creative leaders?

Over billions of years, Nature mastered "survival of the wisest" by favouring creative leaders. But good leadership only proves to be a lifesaver if it champions the innovations that improve productivity, products, marketing and management processes.

More than a buzz word, innovation is the one thing that gives anyone an edge. We now recognize that even if innovating a product or service might give us a jump on the competition for a few months, research shows that innovating a management or manufacturing process can push us ahead for as many as 3-4 years.

We know that can't continue down the path of least resistance. Keeping to the status quo promises us disaster. We must recognize the writing on the wall and do what must be done: That is
- champion creative leadership.

Here are 7 ways to help the process:
  1. Focus on developing the creative thinking skills of your key collaborators. Start by communicating the need for change with your leaders. Use clear language to impress them with the fact that innovation can only emerge from a creative and cooperative workforce.
  2. Form a steering committee by assembling a diverse group who will lead the innovation-process. Provide employees at every level with adequate training and coaching. Have them develop strategies that will enhance productivity, sales and management processes.
  3. Empower collaborators to act on those strategies. Hire, promote or develop people who can actualize them. Encourage risk-taking with training activities and reward new behaviors as required.
  4. Establish a sense of urgency. Examine your market realities, determine potential and threats and then identity and discuss them as both problem and opportunity.
  5. Plan short-term gains to start. Starting with easy to implement and visible improvements to then follow with ideas that can enhance performance is the best way to go. It stimulates people… and trains them to see the new priorities.
  6. Consolidate improvements and then look for new approaches to deal with larger issues. Use success to build credibility and then transform the processes and structures that no longer fit into the new vision.
  7. Institutionalize innovative approaches by articulating connections between them, the new behaviors and the reasons for organizational change. Assure continued success with management retreats and leadership training and incentive programs.

Climb aboard. Business has been transformed over the last few decades: From Kaizen to look at improving products at the source, to Total Quality Management - and improved work practices, from ISO (International Organization for Standardization) that establishes “best practices” to “LEAN Improving” which inspires organizations to innovate by developing the creative thinkers who will lead them to “world-class” status.

And in the jungle, if you are only second best, you're lunch!!