Innovation. Ideas. Insight.

The Eagle and the Chicken: A Parable on Creativity

In Ideas, Insight on September 19, 2008 at 9:10 am
Eagles & Chickens can co-exist

Eagles & Chickens can co-exist

A couple of recent experiences have got me thinking about creativity, how it’s “created,” and who it’s created by.  I’ve been playing around with an anology that isn’t great, but I think gets the point across:

You’re a farmer and someone tells you that on top of yonder tree is an envelope filled with $1 million.  The only way to get to the top of the tree is sending a bird up there. It’s a really tall tree. Now, as a farmer you have plenty of chickens at your disposal, so cost factor is really not an issue. You could try to train your chickens to be better at flying. Heck, they have wings and feathers and you’ve seen them get off the ground. And these are good chickens, they lay great eggs – high quality and quantity.  And you have a lot of these chickens so you figure, a couple of them might just be able to get up there. Sure, it’s going to take a lot of training, and patience, maybe even some selective breeding to produce chickens that can fly higher. So off you go, embarking on your chicken training strategy.

Or you could buy an eagle.

But, I’m a farmer, what am I going to do with an eagle? I don’t know how to take care of an eagle. My other animals, especially the chickens, probably aren’t going to get along with the eagle. That eagle is going to want to eat the chicken feed (or maybe even eat a chicken!)

Ok, let me ask you this: Are you in the “keeping your chickens happy business,” or are you in the “let’s make a $1 million business?”

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