Creativity: Walking Out Beyond Your Know-LEDGE

By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy

Here is an idea to strengthen your strategic planning. Reading time: 3:27

         Seascape artist Joseph Turner took his research personally.  He once had himself tied to the mast of a ship during a storm so that he could feel the power of the angry sea lashing out at him. No wonder he was known for realistic emotion in his art.


        I can sense the fury and fright oozing out of pores through his brush and on to canvass in his 1842 piece titled Snow Storm Steam-Boat.

      When you take your research THAT personally, you invest in a plan that seems to take on a life of its own.  Your plan then becomes MORE than something you draw up. Your plan then becomes Some THING that draws YOU in—much like a magnet that  electrifies, energizes and engages you to think more broadly, to act more boldly.

      Now I don’t advise lashing yourself to a ship’s mast during a storm but I am impressed by those leaders who seek more than speak. I am impressed with those leaders I have met who are more than willing to walk out –way out on a plank –well beyond their own Know-LEDGE  (a.k.a  knowledge) to find something NEW not confirm or refute something they already knew.

      Those leaders who take their research personally are more apt to gain greater insights into the organization and therefore develop a more relevant, a more meaningful, a more results-driven strategic plan.   So what can you do to walk way out beyond your know-LEDGE?

            The Emperor’s New Clothes

Joseph Turner's Snowstorm at Sea. His painting illustrates the fright and fury Turner saw first hand, lashed to the boat's mast during the storm.

            Take a walk into the bowels of your organization. Take a walk into a department without your attendant posse –your entourage, your staffers and other sycophants — who like to tell everyone they’ve been hanging out with the CEO but won’t tell you that you are wearing no clothes like the emperor in the famous Hans Christian Anderson story  The Emperor’s New Clothes.

       Take a walk, unannounced, into a part of your company you may never have visited before. Visit with the troops not the captains in that department. The captains want you to believe they have everything under control. The troops know better.

       Ask a receptionist “what can we do better to help you do your job better?” Ask a line worker, “what’s the biggest problem you have doing your job and how do you think the company can help solve that problem.”

Can’t Slice and Dice Knowledge Like a Cuisinart of the Mind

       Indeed, the most effective leaders know that the key to a more strategic plan can’t be confined to reports. Even if you do have access to all the “knowledge” contained in the 43 million words in 19 volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica or in the 50,000 disciplines offering a doctoral degree. Knowledge itself is not the critical factor in strategic planning and thinking.

No matter if knowledge is an investment paying the best interest as Ben Franklin observed.
No matter if knowledge is the only real security that a person could have as Henry Ford opined.
No matter if knowledge is the one good as Socrates taught.
No matter if knowledge is power as Francis Bacon noted.

       Leaders don’t simply process knowledge. They don’t slice and dice knowledge like a Cuisinart of the Mind. Leaders add value. Beyond their know-LEDGE. Leaders add perspective. Beyond their know-LEDGE. Leaders add meaning. Beyond their know-LEDGE, sometimes even lashed to their version of a mast in a storm at sea.

Today’s ImproveMINT

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