We Need Imagination Now More Than Ever
Even if the budget is low, it is important to experiment.
Testing theoretical ideas in the real world is a necessary step and often generates unexpected outcomes leading to further innovation and learning.
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Pandemics, wars, and major social crisis create new kinds of attitudes, needs, and behaviors, which require mastering new skills and adjusting to the new realities.
One of the key factors in this unprecedented situation is the capacity to create, evolve, and carve out new pathways, new opportunities and a new passage towards growth. This is done by the power of Imagination.
During a crisis, the chronological way to handle things is usually:
Imagination is a challenging task under extreme circumstances and world-changing events like the current pandemic. It helps us go from adapting to the new environment to shaping it. A leader has to develop the capacity for imagination using the following imperatives:
Managers and leaders need to find time to stand back and reflect, steering away from the ‘fight or flight’ response for some time. While this is difficult in the midst of heavy demands, it is crucial as our narrow focus needs to be readjusted, and our response needs to become parasympathetic (Rest and Digest).
Some ways to reflect include deep breathing exercises, eating meals slowly and consciously, listening to or playing music or going for a stroll without your smartphone.
Creativity and Imagination involve going beyond the obvious ‘passive’ questioning, and finding fresh ideas and approaches, that as a matter of fact start with the right questions, like:
When a crisis requires a goal-driven, serious response, it is easy to overlook the power of Play, which is a critical accelerated learning capability.
The act of play makes us form interesting and innovative connections when we loosen our laser-sharp focused approach. Playing allows us to practice imagination, to improve our skills while facilitating inspiration.
Collective Imagination is the key to success in the current circumstances. A good leader picks up, maps, and scales the ideas provided by individuals.
A system needs to be set up to facilitate communication and open up avenues for innovative ideas to come forward, and not merely dismiss them as being impractical or lacking common sense.
The cliche ‘thinking out-of-the-box’ is apt in this context. Imagination is triggered by the unexpected.
New solutions and breakthroughs are not apparent and maybe just an anomaly in the beginning. Digging into new pathways prompts reframing, rethinking and the discovery of new possibilities.
Optimism and pessimism, both can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Our beliefs often shape our reality. Having a hopeful, can-do attitude works in favor of our solving the challenges. Pessimism and negative language often lead to a downward spiral and a feeling of despair in the team.
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