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Unleashing Creativity and Innovation: Nine Lessons from Nature for Enterprise Growth and Career Success by Madan Birla

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Part I

Creativity and Innovation

The Keys to Enterprise Growth and Career Success in the Twenty-First Century

Creativity is to the marketplace what water is to life: You can have one without the other, but not for very long.

—Jim Blasingame, The Commercial Appeal, May 21, 2012

A recent poll of 1,500 CEOs identified creativity as the No. 1 “leadership competency” of the future.

Newsweek, July 19, 2010

“What If” Thinking: The Driver Behind FedEx’s Launch and Growth into a Global Icon

Since my book FedEx Delivers has been translated into Chinese, Russian, Spanish, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, and other languages, I often am speaking to business groups around the world. The most common question I’m asked is, “How did Fred Smith build such a great company?”

After realizing that there was a growing demand for a time-definite express mode of transportation for shipping high-priority, time-sensitive cargo such as computer parts, critical documents, medicines, and electronics, Fred Smith thought, “What if there was an airline dedicated to providing overnight express service to meet this growing need?” This was the subject of a term paper he wrote while in school at Yale University.

This what if thinking gave birth to FedEx. But what helped it become a global business success story is the what if culture; that is, people across the organization continually asking what if questions.

In my first 10 years at FedEx, I led the Materials and Resource Planning function. That allowed my group to be ...

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