Biden Team Charged With 'Lack of Imagination' in Taliban Disaster. Does Your Firm Lack Imagination?

by Lynn Hinderaker, Turnaround Strategist and NEWbraska Partner

The debacle that is unfolding in Kabul, Afghanistan (and throughout the entire country) has been brewing for several years. The options that were discussed were bogged down in international, military and bureaucratic considerations. Nobody in either the Trump or Biden administration knew what to do if everything broke down and the Taliban started murdering people on the streets.

And then it happened. Mayhem. The Taliban accelerated their military activity and have now surrounded the most important city in the country. American advisors, contractors and diplomatic staffs hastily flee to the airport and jump on planes, leaving their comrades behind. Their ignoble, chaotic departure reveals a lack of forethought, leadership and most of all, imagination.

After 18 months of economic pain, many businesses are in a situation now that is nearly as chaotic. Many employees grew to prefer working from home and were quite productive. But managers want to restore a culture and foster innovation, which is hard when everyone is apart. 33% of all employees are bracing for a change; they're looking for a new job that allows remote working.

Employers are scratching their heads. This has never happened before so looking backwards doesn't seem to work.

The key now is to unlock our imaginations - to think creatively about the future of work, the value of workers (and the cost of replacing them) and the relationship between owner/boss and the employee. Some organizations are looking at employees as 'citizens' in a community that exists not just to generate profits but to serve society in a broader, more responsible way.

An example of creative adaptation to pandemic trends: One hotelier converted his downtown empty rooms into private luxury dining rooms. Food from the kitchen was carried up to the room and set on the table before the "guests/diners" arrived. Repositioning and creative usage of underused resources saved the day.

Some companies are focused less on customers and more on employees. How to reorganize? You might consider employee self management. WL Gore, Zappo's and others ban all controlling, management behavior and expect small groups of employees to figure it all out and coordinate everything themselves. In industries that change rapidly, this dramatically nonhierarchical approach seems to work well. In slow moving industries, not so much.

When we unlock our imaginations in the world of business, we must examine creativity. Creativity is the ability to form similar connections between disparate images and to create something new and hurl it into the future so it becomes a poem, or a building, a product, a dance, a novel, a movement or a community. Creativity is, in a sense, future memory.” If the essence of creativity is linking disparate facts and ideas, then the more facility you have making associations and the more facts and ideas you have at your disposal, the better you’ll be at coming up with new ideas.

In war or business, creativity is as important as literacy.

Growth in business demands creativity. It is what will separate you from the competition. As humans we’re trained to only notice what’s different in our environment, in other words, being different is the best way to raise awareness.

One example of creativity in business is the development of ecosystems or econets. These are online business communities that consist of companies who, over time, become interdependent. They share a vision and cooperate to manifest that vision while running their own operations more efficiently. Some ecosystems are focused on scale; others focus on differentiation.

In the state of Nebraska, an ecosystem entitled NEWbraska™ enables members to help each other while also intensifying their customer communications and even product development. NEWbraska is a creative adaptation of global ecosystems that has been reconfigured for businesses in the state that want to broaden their influence without investing in branches or new brick and mortar offices.

Without a creative mindset, NEWbraska™ wouldn't have been born.

Indeed, the lack of creativity across the board is hurting your brand. It’s hurting your profitability. It’s hurting your employees. Creativity isn’t a special gift – we’re all born with it. It never leaves, it’s just hiding. Look for ways you can let the two year old inside come out and play.

Especially now.

Be safe.

Lynn Hinderaker is an innovation expert who has transformed brands and employee cultures around the country for decades. Contact this dynamo to provide 'contagious' executive learning programs and related coaching that will bring your employee culture alive and renew your marketing potency. Contact him at

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