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?