Efficiency, Lean Manufacturing, Kaizen, World Class and so forth, to be sure are all great ideas which have been pursued for years now. In these times any one of these concepts or all combined, while certainly very important if not mandatory for the betterment of any organization, alas they no longer cut it on their own. What is now required of each and every one in the pursuit of success in business is creativity. Creativity can be found in all human endeavor, whether it be art, science, education, politics or business. Creativity is not only highly beneficial to the creator but also to mankind at large.

Creativity will triumph 

Creativity when expressed with success is also highly rewarding in several ways. For instance just the personal achievement of having discovered something new. The quickening during the pursuit of the answers. Perhaps next the acclaim of once peers. Eventually even financial rewards may follow. So no matter what the objective, creativity will triumph.

When thinking about creativity, the term “thinking outside the box” comes to mind. What is this box? It is our inert desire for things to be constant, to be safe and secure with what we know and have done before. To apply new thinking is difficult for most of us but not for all. Steve Jobs presented products to the world, which he liked and believe in, and changed it. While many creative people -- historically and now -- toil alone, creativity can be generated by groups as well through openness and sharing.

Promoting creativity 

Most business are managed, a term derived from getting on the back of a beast, digging your knees in, and heading it in a certain direction. Not very conducive in allowing creativity among those so governed. Creativity can really flourish in a company if everyone working there can be engaged in pursuit of it. To be sure, in such demeanor there is risk and also abandon. Even chaos. Is that not stepping out of the box? Several of our phenomenally well known internet giants are taking this approach with enormous success.

We in the woodworking business need to step back and reexamine our stance toward the new realities. The old axioms of doing the good work, satisfying a range of existing customers with products made as always are no longer fully valid. The market has changed; younger customers have new ideas toward life and their lifestyle. Therein can be found new opportunities.

I have always associated the United States with inventiveness, excitement and a can-do attitude. Historically, this stance invariably manifested itself when “our backs are against the wall.” Maybe now, that time has come.

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