Can ‘austerity’ promote creativity and innovation?

You’ve probably heard the old assertion that the health of Britons during Wartime rationing was never better.  There’s probably some truth in it; certainly levels of obesity were lower, and levels of physical activity higher then.  There were innovative recipes and advice on how to feed a family cheaply and with healthful meals.  Perhaps necessity is the mother of invention, after all!

We often pride ourselves in our innovation and creativity, so I was thinking about how that could be applied to current calls for cost control.  I began challenging myself with the following questions:

  • If you added up the combined cost of physical meetings, of which salaries are the greater part, and posted that on the door of the meeting room, would it focus minds on achieving outcomes worth at least that amount?
  • What percentage of all my meetings are ‘virtual’? 
  • Do I worry about not attending a meeting in person; if so, why?
  • Can I confidently exploit virtual conferencing and do I encourage my colleagues to do so?
  • How much use do I make of low-cost personal and leadership development tools, e.g. when did I last read a book on these topics?  (see book club)
  • How much personal and leadership development can I do ‘for free’.  My analogy here is physical training, do I really need a gym membership and personal trainer, when I could just walk and use the stairs more?  How much does it cost to be kind and offer encouragement?

You will be able to think of more yourself, which in turn will help our colleagues believe that we practice what we preach.  Modelling the behaviours we want to see in others is an essential part of good leadership.  Please point out to me (gently!) when you see my inconsistencies!

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