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Monkey See, Monkey Do! Are we losing our creativity?

September 2007
Monkey See, Monkey Do!  Are we losing our creativity?

It is said that if you want to be successful, find a good mentor or role model and do similar things to what they do and the chances are you will get similar results. Makes sense doesn't it? But sometimes I think we take this a little too far. Have you ever renovated your home or bought an interesting artifact, just to find out a week later that your friend did the exact same thing? How does that make you feel? Most likely, you are a little flattered and a little offended.

We all know Bollywood is very good at taking U.S. based movies and TV shows and coming up with their own versions. Many times, it is almost identical. Even in the music business, you can have a very popular English song and next thing you know there is an identical Hindi song with the same or similar music and orchestration.

Are we so caught up in just copying that we have forgotten how to do our own thing?

For example, over the last 15 years that Khabar has been in existence, several times we have had some interesting encounters. On at least three occasions, we found other publications taking the exact same verbiage from our media kits and mission statements and making them their own. If someone wants to go into a publication business, shouldn't they have enough creativity to come up with their own media kit and mission statement? Imagine the content of that publication! Incidentally, all of those (nameless) publications didn't last very long.

Recently we are seeing an upsurge of other publications, email broadcasts, and websites for our community. Unfortunately, it seems once again that it is the same type of content or events repeated by many organizations. Most will have some basic event happenings and listings of local businesses in a directory format. The sad thing is that in many cases most of the directory content seems to be out of date, just like their predecessors. I know we at Khabar are just as guilty on that as anyone else. That is why we are in the process of completely overhauling our website and e-newsletters. The whole idea is to add value to the community and our advertisers.

Do we really need five or six publications doing the same thing? Do we really need to do the same old thing each year at Festival of India? Aren't we bored enough yet? On the same note, do we really need dozens of associations doing similar things? Wouldn't it make more sense to collaborate and come up with ideas and solutions that add value to the masses? There are so many unmet needs and niche areas that one can get involved in that could make one a market leader. There really are no shortages of ideas if one really applies one's mind to the issues. It just takes a little brainstorming and initiative.

I think it is good to duplicate a product or service if you have the capacity and intentions of making something better—but to duplicate something where the need is already being served? I don't know about that. The Japanese have been very good at taking ideas and concepts in the areas of electronics and cars, and it has yielded them significant returns. Fast food companies are very good at setting up shops in the same general vicinity of other fast food restaurants to make it easy for the consumers to make lunch and dinner decisions.

I think it would be a valuable exercise for all of us to step outside the box and rethink the way we run our businesses and our lives. Are we adding value with what we are doing or are we simply duplicating something that is already being done? Someone once said that there is no such thing as original thought, and there may be some truth to that, yet everyday we see new movies, music, and businesses popping up delivering value to the world in unique ways and taking our breath away with their creativity and imagination. Imagine what we could do if we were to apply just a little creativity as a community! The possibilities are mind blowing!

- Rajesh Jyotishi

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