Challenges of the Innovative Mind, Part 2 – Sal J Kitololo

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Presently we’re exploring some of the challenges unique to Innovators as they carry out their unique brand of creating. Previously I suggested “MASTERING THESE CHALLENGES could turn a moderate innovator into a creative innovator par excellence.” Just to reiterate, these challenges may apply to anyone but they are of specific relevance to the creative individual of innovative bent.

The Challenge of Forms (Beauty)

Perhaps a better title for this subject is possible. In an earlier post we examined Form and Substance. I suggested that Form and Shape are the element of visionaries while Substance or Energy is the domain of the innovator. Both are creatives; both bring us radical departures for progress and improvement. Developing on this thought, I’d like to propose that innovators, because Energy is their element, they’re very free with respect to Forms.

I’d like to develop this idea very carefully and make it clear. When the visionary moves to create, there’s a shape or form in the imagination that she’s working to realise. When the innovator conceives a project it rarely has shape or form; instead there are many options for shape or direction when innovative energy is at work. There’s a kind of freedom with regard to forms as the innovator stays true to the creative energies and substance at work in her. Innovators feel strong impulses and move by burning passions. They’re driven with a desire to see the completed project: however they do not “see” the project in its completion. Rather they feel the energy to “make it happen” and know that it is in their power to produce the final goal; they also feel a great deal of liberty when it comes to forms colours shapes and so on.

So what is the challenge? The challenge of forms for innovators is that of making forms appropriate to the substance. This means that the innovator should intimately understand the purpose for whatever she or he is doing, the purpose of her product. This same innovator must then use the liberty she finds herself with to produce the form or shape most appropriate to the product or work. I must emphasise, with regard to forms the innovator enjoys great liberty whereas the visionary is under great restrictions imposed by the vision itself. It is this liberty that presents the challenge: if the innovator is not careful, he or she will bring forth things with unpleasing, ugly, unappealing forms. The innovator needs to be careful about this issue of forms, and to excel in the use of this liberty; the innovator should lend this liberty to design and aesthetics. It is up to him. It is up to her! The innovator is to blame for any unpleasing, inappropriate forms in her/his projects and products.

In and Out of Season

Here is a challenge of the innovator that the visionary cannot easily relate to. (Individuals who are hybrid visionary-innovators or innovator-visionaries experience a kind of confusing schizophrenia with regard to this issue.) The visionary has an acute sense of season. What is season? Seasons, times and seasons, secretly dictate the auspiciousness of a thing, matter or purpose. There are promising times for pursuing a matter; there are unfavourable times also. The visionary has an innate knack for detecting the times and what to do in each one.

Innovators rarely distinguish the seasons. To make it worse, sometimes the nature of their work or goals force them to ignore seasons; they find circumstances compel them to pursue a matter “in season or out of season”. They know that even in unpromising seasons they must pursue their mission of innovation, though perhaps under more difficult conditions. They must do certain things or they won’t get done. And these things are too important to put off until a better time. Frequently the innovative mind approaches the issue of seasons this way.

The challenge of course is to pursue things when the time is wrong. It is necessary for innovators to have the courage to do this, because usually what they’re accomplishing or pursuing cannot wait for the ‘alignment of the stars’. It is usually urgent and sometimes pegged to an important deadline. While visionaries rarely do things out of season – in fact they watch the seasons and zeitgeist carefully seeking for “when the time is right” – innovators don’t always have that luxury. Sometimes their innovation is a precursor, even a prerequisite to the favourable season the visionary awaits.

Of course for hybrid creatives and leaders, those with the distinction of being both visionary and innovation-minded, the challenge is compounded by a question. The question is this: when is it appropriate to observe the seasons and when is it proper to ignore them? When is it apt to follow the visionary mind and when to be the innovator? The individual in this situation should take time to develop her or his own rhythm of blending these conflicting approaches. Maturity through lots of experience is usually the answer to the question of hybrid creativity.

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Last modified: February 6, 2018