Creativity of Scale (The World of Creativity: Episode 14)

Creativity of Scale (The World of Creativity: Episode 14)

What happens when you think big ideas on a big scale?

Yesterday I had the pleasure of being the closing keynote speaker at the Leading Edge conference in Mumbai organised by Outlook Business.

Earlier in the day two ministers from the current Indian government had delivered their speeches. One of the ministers was Piyush Goyal the Minister of Railways & Minister of Coal. I was fortunate to ask a few questions to the minister in a one-on-one conversation and I asked him what approach to creativity they took. He told me: “We try to think about speed and scale”.

In a country as big as India the size of what you are in charge of as a minister is staggering. Just one example: The number of passengers that uses the Indian rail system per year: 8 Billion.

That is Billion with a “B”!

Minister Goyal talked about one idea that they had implemented in the last four years to reduce the power consumption of India: a project to distribute LED lamps to replace the more power hungry old style lamp bulbs.

In 4 years the Indian government have distributed 1.3 Billion (yes with a “B” again) bulbs saving the Indian consumer 6 Billion USD per year in electrical bills and saving the government 20 Billion USD in power infrastructure that did not have to be built.

By buying the bulbs in bulk they lowered price of a LED light by 87%…

Or how about the recent Indian toilet revolution?

When the current government came in to power 4 years ago just 40% had access to a household toilet. So the government started building toilets.

A lot of toilets.

80 million (!) toilets to be precise.

Today 89% of population has access to a toilet.

Are all the toilet problems in India gone now? Of course not.
Are all the power problems gone? No.

But you can not avoid to be impressed with the scale of tackling problems like access to cheaper lights or better toilets in a country like India.

Most of us do not have to create on such an epic scale.

But we could all learn to think bigger, to try to think about how our best ideas could reach more people – to raise the bar for what problems our creativity solve.

How are you going to think bigger? How are you going to – to echo the advise the minister told me – leverage “speed and scale”.

(Please note that this is a non-political post. The previous ministers of India had to tackle problems on a similar note, the next ministers of India (regardless of which party wins) will have to do the same.)


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