While our creativity program is frequently requested by clients from coast to coast, we’ve experienced a sudden increase in those requests over the past few months. In fact, I’m heading to South Dakota next week to present “Blue Jeans and Tennis Shoes: Using Out-of-the-Box Thinking” for a two-state audience at a four-day conference. Like so many other clients, this organization is facing many challenges which demand a greater level of creativity from everyone involved … rapidly increasing global competition, increasing customer demand for more high-quality products and services, mergers and acquisitions, and more rapid response while working within an already tight budget!
All of these demands must be met while, at the same time, we must place a much-needed focus on teaching our staff HOW to be more creative. Chances are good that few of them have previously received any training in this area. In fact, the average business executive has spent between 1,000 and 10,000 hours formally learning economics, history, languages, literature, mathematics, and political science. That same executive has invested fewer than 10 hours learning about creative thinking. Those stats are provided by Tony Buzan, author of Use Both Sides of Your Brain. I’ve had a great number of executives tell me that they can honestly say they haven’t spent anywhere near a full 10 hours learning how to be more creative. If this is true, who will train their staff in this much-needed area?
This sudden interest in creativity across industries isn’t a result of a growing desire for continuous education. Simply put, the increased focus on this area has emerged due to an escalating level of global competition, a very challenging economy, more demanding customers, and the nation’s exceedingly short attention span.
Here’s a prime example … Visualize East Rutherford, New Jersey. You must agree it’s not Broadway and certainly not Hollywood. However, it is the home of the NBA’s New Jersey Nets who play basketball in the state-of-the-art Continental Airlines Arena in the Meadowlands Sports Complex.
It’s a safe assumption on my part that you probably don’t follow the seasonal ventures of the Nets. They’ve got a star player who simply isn’t playing up to par, another that’s injured, they’re in a weak Division, and they’ve lost a few more games than they’ve won thus far this season. In short, it hasn’t been a great year!
Maybe that’s why they’re putting forth an effort to be more creative. In the spirit of high school and college cheerleaders, professional teams have always felt they needed to “step it up” a little in that area, probably based on their ever-rising ticket prices. Therefore, most NBA teams have created “dance teams” … a somewhat tame description for a squad of very sexy, scantily-clad, young women who perform routines better suited for the local strip club.
Now we see a new, very unique, trend emerging throughout the NBA. Several teams, seven in all thus far, have jumped on this rapid-transit bandwagon, but let’s focus, for the moment, on those N.J. Nets who have some pretty tough hurdles to get over.
They still provide a young, sexy dance team, but they continue to add to their three-ring circus of entertainment by providing fireworks, flag teams, mascots and even gymnasts to keep the audience focused on “fun.” And now, picture this.
It’s half-time, and the only sound is crowd noise. Suddenly, the throbbing drum beat of “At The Hop” is heard, growing louder with each beat. Out of the crowd emerge 13 gyrating geriatrics, ranging in age from 60 to 84, hand-slapping and high-fiving their way to center court. These are the NETSational Seniors, a geriatric dance team, determined to stun the fans with their spirited renditions of various musical pieces created to energize and entertain fans of all ages.
Fans appear stunned as one of the dancers strips off her bright-red rain slicker during the troupe’s “Singing in the Rain” number. Seconds later she slides into a bump-and-grind hip-hop routine, and the crowd’s smiles turn into grins, which turn to laughter, which turn to shouts, followed by fans rising to their feet in applause!
This is obviously a win-win situation. The fans get a dose of out-of-the-box entertainment, and the swingin’ seniors get to prove they’re far from over-the-hill just yet. Their crowd-pleasing appearance certainly reveals that they’ve worked hard on their routines, take pride in their performance, and are enjoying themselves beyond belief! They’re paid a small honorarium and game tickets for their efforts, but I have a strange feeling that they’d do it for nothing!
This craze began with the Miami Heat three seasons ago in reaction to the trend of “hefty guy dance troups” instituted by teams such as the Dallas Mavericks and the Detroit Pistons. Miami’s “Golden Oldies” were followed by other teams such as the Chicago Bulls’s “Swingin’ Seniors” and the Orlando Magic’s “Silver Stars.” The latest addition appeared in the form of the Seniorgee! Dance Team supporting the Milwaukee Bucks just a few weeks ago.
Several of the teams are updating their routines to include current moves as well as the old favorites. Fans questioned this direction at first but have since accepted it, enjoyed it and actually learned to love it as demonstrated by standing ovations all over the country. Fans at one game included actor Jamie Foxx, who actually came out of the stands to congratulate the group.
This is just one example of the creativity envelope being pushed beyond all boundaries. Keep your eyes open and let us know of other examples you find in your travels.