Embracing the creative, and sometimes absurd, can pay big dividends.

The Value of the Absurd

Absurdity – the state of being utterly or obviously senseless.

At K2EDGE, we have a stated management commitment to continuous experimentation and learning. At the core of this commitment is the belief that when we test novel and unique ideas, we’re going to learn. Sometimes we learn what not to do, sometimes we learn how to fail, and sometimes we win. While not every experiment is a win, each provides some level of value.

I was recently asked if we’d still experiment if an idea was too absurd. As I pondered this and searched for the right answer, I quickly realized that there have been numerous times when I’ve flatly rejected ideas I’ve viewed as absurd. I was then forced to admit that the world is dominated by those who passionately commit to absurd ideas and reshape our thinking. As I considered this over a period of time, I realized some of the ramifications of flatly rejecting the absurd.

The things I lost

  • Employee morale – every time I flatly rejected an idea, I chiseled away at my employee’s morale, making them feel less valued.
  • Employee confidence – repeat rejection erodes confidence in team and individual capabilities.
  • Creativity – when I rejected the novel and unique approaches, I reduced the creative thinking prowess of the individual, the team, and the entire organization.
  • Possibly the next ground-breaking idea.

The things I gained

  • Stability – rejecting what I viewed as absurd reduced my risk exposure.
  • Carbon copies of my way of thinking – rejecting absurd ideas molded others into my mindset.
  • Comfort – I didn’t have to think critically about ideas and their ramifications; I could simply let them die.

In the end, it’s always a balance. My approach has shifted. When I hear the absurd now, I say, “Convince me.”

I’m interested in your thoughts on how you embrace the creative (dare I suggest, even the absurd) in your organization.

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