We worship creativity. In describing a business, a leader, a product, or a service, I can think of no higher praise than to say it is creative, or visionary, or innovative. Whether in marketing, or technology, or business process, or a blogpost, all of us admire creativity, strive for creativity, and think about creativity.
The real estate industry in particular has a love-love relationship with creativity. NAR has its Game Changers, Inman has its Connect Create developer challenge, companies are lauded for their innovations, individuals praise for their creativity in using social media for real estate business (or whatever new creative thing they’re doing).
What I wonder about today is whether people truly worship creativity, or pay lip service to it. Do you really want innovation? Are you sure you’re prepared for what creativity means? Are you certain that you want creativity in your life, in your business?
The Hindu deity Shiva is often said to embody destruction and regeneration, like the forest fire that clears out the dead leaves and old growth to enable new shoots to emerge. To embrace creativity and innovation, then, is to embrace destruction. Are you ready?
Destruction, Harbinger of Creativity
Something proponents of creativity rarely consider, and even more rarely mention, is that destruction is the prophet of creativity. Meaningful creativity is not always an incremental good for everyone. There are often losers when something creative appears; indeed, destruction of the existing order is often a pre-requisite for creativity.
This post on Orgpreneur.com scratches the surface of the creative destruction:
Innovation solely through growth is inherently unsustainable. At some point all organizations hit a plateau. Those that never bothered to learn how to stop something go from radical growth to radical stagnation.
Most of us assume that creativity can only help us, can only make our lives better somehow — like adding an iPad to our repertoire of gadgets. But there’s a very good chance that the iPad will destroy the netbooks market, as the iPod destroyed the portable MP3 player market. And before the iPod could even become reality, CD’s and digital music had to destroy the world of analog tapes and LP’s.
As one thinks about the real estate industry over the past several years, doesn’t the term “radical stagnation” fit perfectly?
Economists talk about ‘creative destruction‘ as the engine of long-term growth in capitalism. The new kills the old, as automobiles killed the buggy whip manufacturers, as digital photography killed Polaroid, as the web and social media are killing newspapers.
It may be that true innovation requires destroying something else. What are you prepared to destroy? For that matter, are you prepared to be destroyed, as innovation marches on?
Real Estate and Destruction
So one question might be, what are the sacred zombie cows in real estate that need to be killed off, in order to unleash creativity?
Or thought of another way, when you look at the innovations in the industry today — whether mobile apps, CRM technologies, social media, RPR, or whatever — you might ask, “What part of the industry does this innovation destroy?”
If the answer is “none”, then that thing, whatever it is, is not innovation. It is, rather, incremental improvement; a marginal gain in efficiency. It isn’t the automobile, but faster horses.
Maybe that’s not a bad thing. Maybe incremental change is all that we need.
But if not, if what is required to deal with the tectonic shifts in consumer behavior, consumer expectations, nature of the business, and all of that is real innovation… then ask yourself, are you ready for the destruction?