Book Review: “Let the Elephants Run”

September 14, 2017

A Blog Post about creativity in business by Diana Henderson

The conversation around creativity is an ever-growing conversation. We can thank Steve Jobs for pioneering creativity in the corporate world, but many other significant business leaders and thinkers have continued this conversation and have made significant inroads in communicating the value of creativity.

There is still a well-established idea that creativity is something that some people are endowed with and some are not. As increasing amounts of research and anecdotal evidence proves, this is just not the case. “Mass systems of public education were developed primarily to meet the needs of the Industrial Revolution and, in many ways, they mirror the principles of industrial production. They emphasise linearity, conformity and standardisation. One of the reasons they are not working now is that real life is organic, adaptable, and diverse.” -Ken Robinson Out of Our Minds. We are continuing to work under the pretext of an out-dated system that was focused on developing assembly line workers, however we now know that assembly line thinking does not lead to creative problem solving or innovation.

 A by-product of this system is the antiquated idea that creativity is a gift belonging to a few instead of a universal characteristic trait of all mankind. We have boxed creativity into the realms of painters, musicians, and designers and by doing so have alienated the philosopher, scientist, and revolutionaries. By better defining creativity we open the possibility of innovation and change to all. By defining creativity as “passion that went work” creativity is no longer elitist, but instead becomes available to all who wants to invest in it. All throughout history major social change was achieved when something that was exclusive to the elite became available to the common man. Look how the world changed when the common man was given the ability to read, write, and participate in ruling decisions through democracy. The creativity of the common man is exactly what our world needs to overcome the diverse challenges that we are set against.

David Usher in his book “Let the Elephants Run” has much to say on this topic as it relates to the business world. He challenges business leaders to embrace the value of creativity and instead of seeing creativity as an expense or a business risk, instead, embrace it as an absolute necessity of business growth and long term industry viability. “There is no single structure that works for everyone, but for everyone there is a structure that works.” He goes on to say, “Creativity needs both parts to work- the freedom of imagination and structure to hang it on. Without the structure, nothing works.”  

The business world is full of structure.

However, no matter how large, intricate, or stable a trellis is, with no vine the trellis has no purpose. 

The trellis and the vine are dependent on each other. Let us as business leaders invite those vines of creativity to come into our structure and put their passion to work. The well developed structures of the business wold can and should offer the support that creativity needs to develop roots. As business leader invest and reward the working hours of passion instead of just “linearity, conformity and standardisation” we will begin to see exciting growth and forward momentum. The world doesn’t need more assembly lines, it needs all the creativity that mankind has to offer towards solutions that overcome the enormous problems we are facing

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