Philadelphia will become a global solutions center when we prioritize a couple of core values:
Change-makers see an issue, and then draw others to work as a team to solve. Importantly, you can encourage others to develop their own creativity.- Stephen K. Klasko
As we assembled Innovate Philadelphia, I was struck by how often we fail to put creativity first. Many of our professionals are taught to reduce risk, are taught fear failure, and are told we are not creative.
Here’s how I see creativity, and why I believe all of us can use it to make our city the world’s first option for solutions.
Creativity comes in different shapes. There is a body of literature around this, but to summarize:
Level 1: Personal. Flex your personal creative muscle. Take a different route to work. Read something you’d never expect to read – you should do that often. Most importantly, pursue a passion, whether it’s a hobby, a sport, and cause.
Level 2: Be a change-maker. Hone the ability to see a problem and then assemble resources (other people) to solve it. You can do this in your family or in your organization by turning frustration into solutions. Change-makers see an issue, and then draw others to work as a team to solve. Importantly, you can encourage others to develop their own creativity.
Level 3: Professional creativity. Bring creativity to your professional role. We know what happens at work – every good idea is met by budget constraints, legal hurdles, too few team members. Train yourself to ask: “What are the many ways we can solve this?” instead of getting caught in “We can’t do that.” I recommend the new book, Unscaled, by Hemant Taneja, one of the smartest venture capital people in Silicon Valley, about the economy of the future. Taneja challenges us to create transformational change with fewer resources – less scale. What could we outsource, rent, re-use to create a nimble organization? And yes, this is the level where you have to face your fear of risk – where the excitement of changing the world overcomes your worry that you’ll blow it.
Level 4: Art. The final level of creativity is art itself. I do recommend Walter Isaacson’s new book, Leonardo, and his clarion call to match science and art in creating genius. We’re not all Leonardos, nor are we Questlove, or Adele. But we have unique stories of our own to tell.
Lastly, I recommend Blue Ocean Shift: Beyond Competing, by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne. The flip side to disruption, they argue, is creativity. We need both. We need to break old patterns, and we need to rebuild with creative, strategic partnerships.
It’s an exciting and creative future before us, right here in Philadelphia and the great region that surrounds us. It’s time for Philly soul to recapture the world.
Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health