Nonprofits: Is Competition Killing Your Creativity?

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February 13, 2013; Fast Company, “Co.Create”

NPQ likes to keep an eye on the for-profit management magazines to glean interesting and applicable thoughts and practices, like this 2013 article from Douglas Van Praet in Fast Company entitled, “We’re Marketers, not Soldiers: How Combative Competition is Killing Creativity.”

So first, maybe we can acknowledge that competition does indeed exist within the nonprofit sector. That having been said, let’s move on.

The author suggests that ruthless competing is very old school and beside the point. He suggests that it is indicative of dated and stultified thinking and that the real point of business today is to attach and unleash the imaginations of “creators and customers.”

After this, I want to keep it simple and just pass along seven steps for moving from—as he puts it—“hurting everyone” else in your space to a partnership of imagination with those with whom you work.

Here are the steps:

  1. Interrupt the Pattern
  2. Create Comfort
  3. Lead the Imagination
  4. Shift the Feeling
  5. Satisfy the Critical Mind
  6. Change the Associations
  7. Take Action

Finally, he quotes poet Robert Frost, who once said, “The brain is a wonderful organ; it starts working the moment you get up in the morning and does not stop until you get into the office.”

Let’s start this week differently.—Ruth McCambridge