During a recent conversation with my best friend, who works with systems thinking, I asked the rhetorical question of where in the heck we ever got the idea that conformity in organizations would do a better job of driving business results than creativity.  She reminded me of the historical importance of factories, production, and efficiency.

Of course.  I well remember the “Big E,” as we called it, when running my greenhouse operation.  Efficiency was our holy grail.  We strove to produce as uniform a premium product as possible in as streamlined a fashion as possible.  We worked at both all the time.  And they were really important.

But when it came to suggestions for how to achieve that holy grail, the last thing I wanted from employees was conformity.  Or uniformity.

So, perhaps, it’s not that we’ve created organizations where conformity is too esteemed, but, rather, we’ve confused the role that conformity plays and have allowed it greater influence than serves us well.

Conformity in production is imperative.  It creates sameness which builds trust and loyalty and revenue growth.

Conformity in thought is the death knell of all things innovative.  It extinguishes experimentation, suppresses ideas, and resists questions.

If you want “intrapreneurs” in your organization, team members who behave with the zeal of ownership, who bring their best ideas for tackling your toughest problems, then give conformity its due, and its place, and make creativity the higher standard.

For more on working with me directly to drive business outcomes in 2017: sarah@sarah-levitt.com

If you want to get the best ideas into the room at your senior leadership retreat, I facilitate high impact, strategic meetings for CEOs and their teams that deliver results: sarah@sarah-levitt.com

And, if you’re looking for a dynamic, engaging keynote speaker described as bringing inspiration and application, you can go here to see my 2017 keynote topics.

Next week I’ll be joining a speaker lineup that includes General Michael Hayden, Former Director of NSA and CIA and Patrick Harker, President/CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia at the Economic Leadership Forum of the New Jersey Bankers Association where I’ll be talking about The Heart of Innovation – Building High Performing Teams.  You can go here for more information and to register.