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Creatively Barking Up An Innovative Tree

By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy

Here’s an idea to help you to do more with less.

          You’re a smoker and you need a cigarette, bad. You scurry around your house, looking everywhere. No luck. You’re out of cigarettes. What do you do?

        Well, if you were a pioneer traveling in a wagon train across the country and you ran out tobacco in the Rocky Mountains, you would improvise and  smoke the bark of a red willow tree.

       And how resourceful are you as a leader, especially in these tough economic times when you run out of key resources?  To stimulate your thinking on the power of substituting and creating new combinations, here’s an example from the world of baking:

Creative Substitution Turns Pumpkin Pie Into Ginger Cookies

      Let’s make pumpkin pie filling. To make pumpkin pie filling you mix pumpkin, spices, sugar, salt, eggs, and milk. Add flour and you make pumpkin bread. Substitute shortening for the pumpkin and molasses and you end up with ginger cookies. Three different products from one set of key ingredients. And how many new ways are you using your existing resources?

      Resourceful leaders cash in on what others are willing throw away. Consider the 18-year old who walked past a construction site. The cellar was being dug out for a large building. The dirt was being hauled away. He noticed that dirt was a kind of clay that would be valuable for filtering and purifying other materials. He took the clay dirt home, pressed it and cut it into cakes and wrapped them. He sold $6,000 of those clay cakes. No wonder Charles Hires would one day leverage that same sense of resourcefulness to create and found Hires Root Beer.

 Creatively Writing on Scraps of Leather

       Leaders are resourceful. They substitute for whatever resources are available in new and different ways. Even scraps of leather:   That’s why Cervantes wrote “Don Quixote” on scraps of leather. That’s why John Bunyan wrote “Pilgrim’s Progress” on untwisted papers used to cork bottles.  And that’s why George Stephenson, the engineer who invented the locomotive, wrote his mathematics problems with chalk on the sides of grimy coal wagons.

      What substitutions have you made to extend your resources? See previous Leadership Mint on resourcefulness.  Soldiers in the Civil War used acorns to make their morning coffee when they ran out of coffee beans. I look forward to reading your comments. Use the Comments section below.

Today’s ImproveMINT
Look for substitute resources to keep your leadership thinking in mint condition.

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3 Responses

  1. […] That’s how an improvising leader turned dirt bricks into bucks. That’s how an improvising leader turned a girdle into a heart valve. And […]

  2. […] like these previous Leadership Mints on Creativity. Creativity: Coloring Beyond The Bottom Line Creatively Barking Up an Innovation Tree Innovation: Wiggle Room of Another […]

When REPLYing, send TO PeterJeff@charter.net.

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