Monday, July 28, 2008

The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination

Bit behind on this, as apparently it has been the 'buzz' in and around Harvard since June 5th. JK Rowling delivered the Commencement Address at the Annual Meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association.

You can find it on YouTube, but if you visit the Harvard Magazine you can watch it and read the transcript. It's a brilliant piece delivered really well in a clearly nerve-racking context. I think she did a fantastic job, and the content is magnificent.

She discusses the importance of failure (interesting notion to a group of Harvard graduates!) in stripping away the inessential, and makes a wonderful point on the importance of imagination. I found this particularly interesting in the context of leadership. She says;
"Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathise with humans whose experiences we have never shared."
The ability to place ourselves in the shoes of others, be it as a planner in crafting your brief or as a leader in developing your team, is clearly a huge part of what we do; essential in fact. In both areas, the ability to empathise makes a big difference between growth and success, and merely getting by.

No comments: