Is This The Answer to Collaboration, Creativity, and Innovation?

I met up with a ex-colleague today who is passionate about customers, about service, and about the customer experience. He showed me the NPS charts and figures and lamented that so little real change is occurring in the organisation and so the NPS scores are static. He even went to a call-centre, sat with call-centre agents, and observed them responding to customer calls.

What did he notice? He noticed that these agents were not picking up on the customer’s emotional state and responding creatively to generate a meaningful connection. They were too busy on the task of working many screens-systems, finding information, and relaying this information to customers.  He noticed that the call-centre agents were going about their customer conversations (and work) in a robotic way. I detected a hint of complaint towards the call-centre agents.

This got me thinking about organisations and work places. In my 20+ years of experiences I have worked with-for many organisations and I have noticed that most organisations are dead. Only a handful of organisational environments are alive. I have also noticed that robotic behaviour and dead organisations go together. Have you noticed that when people finish work and leave the building they sigh with relief – relief that they are out of prison. Have you experienced the same?

I ask you how likely is it that collaboration will show up in dead organisational environments? How likely is it that creativity and innovation will show up? How likely is it that the people working in dead organisational environments will show up in a way that leaves customers feeling happy?

Which begs the question, how do we turn dead organisations into alive organisations where empathy, collaboration, connection, creativity and innovation flourish?  I have noticed the there are plenty of people providing answers to collaboration, creativity, innovation and employee engagement. There are all kinds of tip, tricks, techniques and frameworks – some simple, most complex. If they worked then collaboration, creativity, innovation and employee engagement would be flourishing; the tips, tricks, techniques, and frameworks have been around for a long time.

So what is the answer to this riddle? How do we turn dead organisations to organisations that are alive with empathy, with collaboration, with creativity and innovation? I share with you a profound insight, from a radical thinker, that gets to the heart of the matter:

People who are without creativity build dead organisations.

– Krishnamurti


Author: Maz Iqbal

Experienced management consultant. Passionate about enabling customer-centricity by calling forth the best from those that work in the organisation and the intelligent application of digital technologies. Subject matter expert with regards to customer strategy, customer insight, customer experience (CX), customer relationship management (CRM), and relationship marketing. Working at the intersection of the Customer, the Enterprise (marketing, sales, service), and Technology.

5 thoughts on “Is This The Answer to Collaboration, Creativity, and Innovation?”

  1. Maz, clearly I could not agree more. While it is the management that sets the tone a business eploys towards customers there is an important enabling role that technology can play. No one forced anyone to buy iPhones or to go onto Facebook. The opportunity was enough for people to try it. Adoption arose from curiosity and not by enforcement. enforced processes and business rules that supposedly improve quality and keep costs in check kill creativity and motivation.

    Businesses really need to consider to invest into collaboration while at the same time empowering people, through goals, authority and means. Employees will be more happy in their jobs if they also get recognition and autonomy and that will translate into happier customers too. It makes the customer service organisation more effective and that in turn makes it cheaper. If you push towards lower cost that is all you get and unfortunately too many executives and managers do not understand these human aspects of running a business.

    They look at numbers and want to change these numbers rather than looking at people and do what is good for them – employees and customers alike.


    1. Hello Max

      I find myself to be in agreement with you. Creativity will show up when the people who run/manage/lead organisations are creative. Great customer service will show up when the Tops embody a genuine service ethos. In the absence of this, it is all talk. And so destined to failure.

      All the best


    2. Hi Maz,
      I thin James is onto something when he talks about trust as being a precondition or prerequisite to achieving collaboration, cooperation, creativity and innovation. However, I would suggest that it is probably broader than this and that it is an organisation’s whole culture that plays a bigger part, if not the biggest part, in it’s ability to engender the collaboration, cooperation, creativity and innovation that it seeks.



  2. I have a slightly different question Maz, which is why did they kill their organisations in the first place?

    I don’t think at its root the issue is one of creativity, I think it is one of trust. These people don’t trust their employees or their customers. And that is what killed the relationships and the organisation.



    1. Hello James,

      On the matter of trust, I find myself to be in total agreement with you. Trust is the basis of genuine cooperation. And as such it reduces the ‘friction’ that is usually involved in human relationships. It also explains who it was that Quaker run businesses in England grew rapidly: Quakers trusted one another, and non Quakers found Quakers to be trustworthy….

      It occurs to me that the issue of creativity is a much deeper matter. The creative mind has a certain freshness, a certain affinity for creating and jumping into new possibilities. a creative mind welcomes disorder and see’s it as a stepping stone toward order. It sees order and disorder as one whole – each needing the other to be in balance. A creative mind is always on the edge of chaos. A creative mind would say all this six sigma stuff is great. And it is time to throw it out because we have extracted all the juice out of it, A creative mind would say all this management by fear, by metrics, by monetary rewards has run out of juice, lets throw it out and try something new ….

      A non-creative mind, the rational mind, is addicted to safety in the known, the accepted way of doing things. And the best it is open to considering is ‘best practice’ – which is usually in its own industry. A non-creative mind will continue with the known even when the known is not working. This non-creative mind recoils at the thought of the ‘brave new world’.

      Now if our existing ways of being and doing were effective then we would not be harping on about customer service, customer experience, collaboration, employee engagement, creativity and innovation.

      Which begs the question, can the non-creative mind, generate the breakthroughs that are necessary? Or put differently, why did it take Steve Jobs to generate the breakthroughs as opposed to the leaders of the incumbents?

      All the best,


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