Good ideas, sometimes, come from the least likely places. The most creative minds may come from those individuals who not only think out of the box, but don’t even realize there was a box there in the first place.
In the search for talent and creativity we often look for credentials, in a over- credentialized society, we try to delineate expertise when expertise can’t be delineated, we value experience when experience may be irrelevant, and we reward bureaucratic seniority when such seniority may be dysfunctional. In this world, where knowledge is rapidly changing, where skills and capacities bubble to the surface in unexpected places, in unexpected ways, real leaders have to reach beyond their world for talent and insight.
Just look at a group of teenage hackers and a 94 year old painter.
The group of young hackers, brought together to compete in the US Cyber Challenge (CNN), lack formal training and rounded college educations but they are the key to helping the US defend its “cyber vulnerabilities.” The group of selected hackers, the 15 “All Stars”, aren’t your average, experienced, and educated job pool. Rather, their a group of young (15-21 years old), brilliant, out-of-the-box-thinkers who will spearhead the nation’s cyber defenses.
Carmen Herrera, 94, sold her first painting when she was 89 years old. Now, she’s being called a “pioneer” and her “monumental” works fetch $30,000 to $40,000 while they reside in the Tate Modern and the MoMa. As Tony Bechara said her bus had finally come.
For the hackers they were too young, had no credentials, no seniority, for Carmen Herrara it was too late, she had no recognition, and clearly, by box-y thinking, had missed her time. Once again, these gems of creativity would have been missed had they been through the sieve of conventional evaluation. Next time you’re looking for creativity, look carefully, listen carefully, and remember proactive leaders are creative in their search for creativity–willing to risk on those that have often been dismissed, by the stiffness of conventional recruiters.
Painting by: Ibrahim Nubani, Private Collection