Creating a Creative Crisis

Organizations sputter and stall quickly. Insider focus seems to be our default mode. We naturally work to create personal comfort rather than value for customers. How can stalled organizations re-energize their zeal and reinvigorate their vision?

One strategy to get a stalled organization moving is creating a crisis.

Webster says a crisis is, “The point of time when it is to be decided whether any affair or course of action must go on, or be modified or terminate…”

How to Create a Crisis

The leadership team I work with created a crisis by setting a deadline.  After months of pursuing a desirable solution to a pressing problem, we drew a line in the sand.  Here’s what we said to our organization.

If we cannot find the property we desire by July 1, we will accept a less desirable, temporary option.  Furthermore, by August 9 we plan to vacate this property and move into the best available location. July 1 arrived and the solution we hoped to find didn’t materialize.  We identified a less desirable solution and moved on schedule.

Getting over it

We kept looking for the “perfect” solution. While looking we turned down several opportunities. A deadline helped us let go of perfection. Perfection is the enemy of progress.

Creative urgency

A crisis forced us to get creative and consider unconsidered options. Setting a deadline opened our minds and created urgency.


It turns out the less desirable option has many advantages.  It’s not perfect.  It’s creating discomfort.  However, it freed us from a strangling bottleneck and presents new exciting opportunities.

Eight suggestions for crisis makers:

  1. Be willing to fail and be prepared for the consequences
  2. Be up front with everyone (never deceive)
  3. Only create a crisis if your mission and vision are in peril
  4. Don’t even think about it unless trust runs like a river through your organization – it’s going to be tough even with trust
  5. Stick to your word
  6. During the crisis act humbly, confidently, and compassionately
  7. Acknowledge the negative while focusing on opportunities
  8. Keep repeating your values. Values establish stability during the destabilization.


What other suggestions do you have for creating a crisis?  What other dangers?

Twitter feed is not available at the moment.