Durwin Sharp, 53, chief idea catalyst for the Houston-based Virtual Thinking Expedition Co., where he helps guide innovation boot camps.
"The rate of economic change is forcing — and enabling — people to innovate faster than ever. And as more people are paid to think, more organizations are giving employees license to muck around with ideas. Smart companies are realizing that they have to give up a lot of control so that they can unleash and sustain serious innovation. But unbridled creativity isn't a complete business solution. Control, structure, and results still matter — even though you're only as good as your last idea."
"Change agents are renegotiating the balance between mundane management and freewheeling creativity. How do you demonstrate the value of innovation? By translating out-there ideas into something that even skeptics can understand: results. The key is to stretch people's comfort levels in a way that teases their minds just enough to push them to think in a new space."
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"Creativity is still messy. But companies that allow their white blood cells to stamp out creative inefficiency aren't going to last. The successful organizations will be the ones that set aside resources to explore crazy questions: 'What idea would get you fired? What idea would get your boss fired? What idea seems impossible but, if executed, would revolutionize your business?' Because if they don't do it, their competitors will." Contact Durwin Sharp by email (firstname.lastname@example.org), or visit him on the Web (www.thinking-expedition.com).
A version of this article appeared in the January 2001 issue of Fast Company magazine.