A Theology of Creativity
Creativity Killers

The Importance of Innovation

Images-4 Innovation is very important for any individual, group or organization – including the church!

A few quotes:

1. “In a period of rapid change, the only ones who survive are those who innovate and create change.” [Peter Drucker – Father of Modern Management in Management, p.357]

Change is the only certain in today’s fast paced environment. Accept that it will always be with us. Change is never over (its constant!). See change as an opportunity not a threat. Talk about it in a positive way and help people to not be afraid of it.

Peter Drucker says that both management and entrepreneurship are essential in any organisation. Both are always needed at the same time and both have to be co-ordinated and work together. Not to innovate is the single largest reason for the decline of existing organisations. Not to know how to manage is the single largest reason for the failure of new ventures. We must not just manage the existing but innovate the new and the different.

It is so easy to become busy managing what currently exists (working IN the organisation), that we fail to take time to improve what we’re doing let alone consider doing things differently or doing new things (working ON the organisation). As leaders, we must work on tomorrow not just keep up with today. This is what innovation is all about.

2. "There is no doubt that creativity is the most important resource of all. Without creativity, there would be no progress, and we would be forever repeating the same patterns." [Edward de Bono – creativity expert]

He also says, "Creative thinking is not a talent, it is a skill that can be learnt. It empowers people by adding strength to their natural abilities which improves teamwork, productivity and where appropriate profits.”

3. “Leaders traffic in idea creation. The best leaders I know are ferociously disciplined about seeking them out and incredibly committed to stewarding them well.” [Bill Hybels – church leader and author of Axiom, p.43]

4. "Intelligent people are always open to new ideas; in fact, they look for them." [Proverbs 18:15. NLT]

We serve a creative God who, though he never changes in his character, has designed a world full of variety and freshness (Gen.1:1). We are created in his image (Gen.1:26). It is important that we seek to make our life and ministry fresh and alive.

How can you increase your own ability to innovate?

Tomorrow: some creativity killers.


Sometimes change and innovation are in opposition. The modern obsession with change has produced very short product cycles actually stymie innovation. Innovation has far more deep reaching implications on design, marketing, and manufacturing processes than the current product cycles allows and is far more risky.

An example of this is the mobile phone market; recent market leaders like Nokia etc with their rapid product cycles and focus on many different models (due to a fickle marketplace where it was difficult to predict consumer demand) suddenly found themselves out flanked by new-comer Apple with their iphone models. Apple (an outsider in this sector) took the time for deep innovation in their product design, development and marketing to leap frog far ahead of existing companies...

Another interesting tension is the tension between management and leadership.

True leaders want to push ahead, create change and tend to destabilise an organisation.

Managers on the other hand are keen to oil the machine as it is to, to follow current procedures and practises - keep alive the respected tradition.

Many churches (in my opinion) have leaders that are really managers. Being a faith based on history, traditions and the Bible (often misinterpreted and missapplied) tends to lend churches into appointing pastors who will protect the sacred ways and play it safe, and we wonder why young people leave church...

A good leader carefully balances an organisations need for change and stability so as to promote growth and renewal.

Very good comments, Peter. True, church communities can tend to fight and resist change more than most organisations. Of course, the goal is to do tow things (1) preserve the core AND (2) stimulate progress. Jim Collins in his classic book "Built to Last" highlights these two tasks and they need to be held in delicate tension. Not an easy thing to do!

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