The newspaper headline “City Council adopts budget, but wants more creativity” caught my attention. It is rare to see local government officials expressing the need for more creativity in government. With decreasing revenues and state mandates making budget cuts necessary and a public angry about increasing taxes, creativity is definitely needed in the operation of local governments.

The headline comes from Davis California, a city of 65,000 people. I would love to see a similar news headline in my hometown of Buffalo, NY. The City of Buffalo as the third poorest city in the nation is in need of creative ideas. Buffalo has some tremendous creativity resources in its own back yard to tap into yet those resources are not collaborating with government officials. Buffalo State College since 1967 has operated the International Center for Studies in Creativity. The Center for Studies in Creativity through its faculty, students and yearly conference which attracts participants from around the world could serve as a great resource to bring more creative thinking and approaches into city government.

Through the efforts of some creative minded folks obtained an amendment to the City of Buffalo Charter in 2002 and created a Creativity and Civic Solutions Commission, which sadly does not appear to be actively in existence today.

Why is it so difficult for government officials to embrace creativity? Edward Glassman, a retired professor from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in an article titled Can Government Be Truly Creative and Innovative states:

“I have seen many government idea-generation sessions fall short of attacking problems truly creatively because of the fear that offending and dippy temporary ideas will go public and invite the attack and ire of others, and spoil chances for future careers.

Far-fetched brainstormed ideas just cannot exist or survive in the practical political world that doesn’t understand the absolutely temporary nature of the bizarre ideas generated in a creativity session. Or their necessity to achieve profitable solutions.”

What do you think is creativity possible in government? 

About The Author

The definition of reinvent is:to replace with an entirely new version, to make over completely, to recast something familiar or old into a different form.In my opinion we need to reinvent government, business and ourselves. Today’s world is about constant change driven by the power of new ideas.For the past 17 years as an attorney, I have worked in government at the county, city, authority and school district level in the Buffalo, NY area. I have seen first hand the need for reinventing how government operates. For a period of four years, I served as Chief of Staff to the 9 member City of Buffalo Common Council. Government must engage the talents and skills of its citizens by becoming more collaborative and transparent in its decision-making and operations. Utilizing technology as a tool to engage citizens is something all governments need to explore.I have great respect for entrepreneurs as they put their passion into a vision, which results in new products, new services and new jobs. Entrepreneurs are on the front lines of change. As an adjunct college instructor, I see how students and everyone for that matter must continually change and reinvent themselves to survive and be successful in today’s crazy world economy.Some of my favorite change agent writers are Tom Peters, Seth Godin, Gary Hamel and Guy Kawasaki. I welcome the opportunity to meet new people, to further my own learning and to share ideas.On a personal note I am 47 years old, my other half Cheryl is an attorney in private practice and together we have three children, Michael age 20 and Joseph age 14 and our newest shock of an addition Julia, born 11/2/11.