Originally uploaded by peggy..
I have some other thoughts on sources of the imagination deficit.
In addition to the new orthodoxy on data-driven strategies, which I agree is an obstacle to true creative thinking, I believe the imagination deficit is exacerbated by the defensive nature of many associations. Many act as if they exist simply to defend ground taken long ago. I believe that thinking in a defensive mode trains the brain to conclude that "This is as good as it can possibly get. We have to protect what we've got, because things aren't going to get better."
At my association, we naturally tend to describe our activities as defending against one thing or another. I consistently ask my team mates to change this language to "advancing" or "advocating" our cause or mission. I personally find that this subtle language and mindset shift -- going from defense to offense -- has a powerful effect on our creative potential. On offense, we imagine more possibilities and fewer consequences.
I also cast blame for the imagination deficit on fear. Fear is a result (or maybe the cause) of defensive thinking. Despite the lip service paid to innovation in associations, in these same conversations I hear many association executives implicitly express fear of failure. This fear seems to paralyze them and some are therefore hesitant to try new things. Sure, they incrementally improve processes and call it innovation, but this falls far short of the kind of revolutionary innovation that will will be needed take associations into a more successful future.
I'm sure there are other causes, too, but these came to mind.
Tagged: Association Management Associations CAE Certified Association Executive creativity fear imagination innovation