Understanding & leveraging creativity with former YAHOO Exec, Tim Sanders.

I recently had the pleasure and honor of having an in-depth one-on-one chat with several gifted minds and thought leaders. Amazing brains on so many levels.

The first of those people was Tim Sanders, with his wide range of expertise ranging from thought leader, to innovator, Fortune 100 keynote speaker to New York Times Best Selling Author of Love Is The Killer App, to a simply cool and kind, down-to-earth dude. Oh, by the way, he’s also a musician. 

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Me: What is your take on individuality relating to teamwork and collaboration? You've got a creative genius, somebody who is just simply out the box or beyond the lines, how do you empower that person to be as creatively genius as they are, disrupt, without upsetting what is a traditional teamwork platform where everybody's on the same page and, everybody has a common goal?

Sanders: “I think a person that we would typically call a creative genius is a very effective rule breaker. They do things different but the results are positive. If the results were shit, you would say, that is an imaginative person. That is not the same thing as a creative person. That’s the difference.

You notice that a person demonstrates the ability to effectively break the rules, then it’s really important to put him or her into a very specific role on the team to do that. That's their job. 

And by the way, there's a polar opposite of that person. One of my original mentors in speaking is, Tom Peters. He wrote a lot of great books, but one of the greatest books of all time is, In Search of Excellence,” where he studied the excellent companies. He said that every team, every business team, needs a vice president of the last one percent. He or she needs to be elected in the beginning of the project because that is the person that is going to make sure the project really comes to life. His or her job is to hassle everybody else on the team to finish the last one percent, the last mile, so to speak. That is the exact opposite as the role of your creative genius, the Rule Breaker.

The Rule Breakers can add the most value at the front end of a project's life or a team's life,and then the creative genius will fold themselves into the group. They will get them where they fit in. They will do work that they find meaningful, and, sometimes they don't find it meaningful. Their impact on the group will have less velocity at the end of the project when you're in execution mode. 

They have to accept that. They have to coach the creative to know that. In the very beginning, you’re going to create problems that we're going to solve. You're going to challenge us to think differently about the problems we are trying to solve. Then, when we’re trying to solve the problems, you're going to help us solve every little problem that stands between us, and the finish. But at some point, you're going to join arms with the other guys, and you're going to stack bricks just like everybody else.

If we as leaders learn to coach the creative on what part of the play they star in, versus what part of the play they turn into crew, then you can have some super creative people on your team and have a functional team. 

But here's the issue…”

Read the full interview in in the book IMAGINATION WILL TAKE YOU EVERYWHERE - Chapter 28, Down the Rabbit Hole.


Vital Germaine


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