In a Volatile Marketplace, ‘Creativity’ is Key

IBM’s latest Global CEO Study, which surveyed over 1,500 top executives, described the “new normal” business environment in the wake of the worldwide economic downturn. It is not surprising that a majority of the CEOs identified a need to adapt or abandon old management practices in order to address more volatile and increasingly complex market and business conditions. The requirement most believe is necessary for success has evolved in response to this new environment. No longer is the basis all about rigor, vision, integrity or management discipline. Now, it’s all about creativity.

To Wharton Professor of Marketing Jerry (Yoram) Wind, IBM’s findings were completely expected. Wind teaches creativity to a cross-section of C-level leaders in Wharton’s executive education programs and MBA core. He uses tools to help participants and students enhance and improve their own creativity (he is quick to disprove the myth that creativity is born, not made), and also helps them understand how to make their organizations more creative.

Jerry described it this way: “If we agree with IBM’s finding that organizational survival is increasingly dependent on creativity, then it falls to leaders to foster a corporate culture in which creativity is elicited, supported and rewarded. But how do you do that in an organization that is bureaucratic and slow to move—in short, the antithesis of what a creative person needs to thrive? You need to develop processes and approaches that allow you to recruit and retain creative people, and to enhance the creativity of your current employees.”

This year, Jerry is designing new content for participants in our Advanced Management Program. His emphasis on leadership that exhibits and enhances the creativity of the organization with a focus on identifying new solutions and approaches meshes well with a program that embodies an intensive experience in challenging assumptions and establishing related strategies for innovation. Jerry’s integration of theory and practice helps to differentiate the value proposition of Wharton Executive Education—we’re not asking participants to review case studies and draw their own conclusions; we are utilizing a methodological approach that leverages the integration of thought leadership, practical experience and leadership tools to generate creative strategies and solutions.

Those CEOs surveyed by IBM made it clear that, today, success is not rooted in “the way it’s always been done.” To lead an organization that thrives in this permanent whitewater environment, you need to experiment, take risks and move beyond the old models of a foregone era.

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