In one of the last lectures in ICE 502E, Dr. Gangel tackles the subject of Stress. In this vein, he returns to the Sullivan article (mentioned in my previous posting) and the concept of “the right to fail.” Much of what I will type below is transcribed from the lecture by Gangel.
Sullivan argues that leadership places people in constant tension in which they must strive to maintain equilibrium between the pull toward change and the pull against it. This is also seen as the tension between creativity and conservatism.
According to Sullivan, leadership is pulled between these two poles at a parallel that maintains the equilibrium. If the creative pole attracts too strongly, productive energy can be dissipated down beautiful but blind alleys. If the conservative pole wins the tug-of-war, the end is sterility and drabness. Since the prevention of failure is the essence of conservatism, a denial of the right to fail stifles creativity in an organization.
Gangel then goes on to describe three problems in developing creativity:
- Creative people are not commonly the sort who enjoy the financial dimensions of planning and decision-making. Nevertheless, the creation of new ideas usually carries with it the responsibility for some budget construction. It is quite easy to throw creative people into stress simply by forcing them to attach a price tag to every good idea they come up with.
- An organization can live in such daily threat of budgetary restrictions that creativity is generally stifled all over the place. People who would normally be creative now force themselves to think conservatively. Thus, they face the stress of thinking and behaving in ways other than those which characterize their normal thought and behavior.
- We have a tendency to view failure through a negative lens, rather than seeing it as a pit stop on the raceway to new ideas. Failure carries with it a personal price tag in our current society which few are willing to pay. This is primarily because those who lead are not willing to let them fail.
I am currently contemplating the implications of all of this for my own life—where I’ve been, where I’m headed. How does the LORD view this “tension” between creativity and conservatism? As Creator, did/does He pay any attention to the “prevention of failure?” As one who is His instrument, how would He have me view it?