By MATT SCHULER, Digital Architect, Marx Layne

In our world, a storm is always on the horizon. Josh Linkner opened up Future Midwest 2011 with a clear point, how are you going to prepare and what are you going to do to confront the storm?

You see we don’t need a time machine to predict the weather. In the world we live, the landscape is changing faster than it ever has before.  Entrenched properties are being dislodged.  We need “new skills for the challenges of the day,” Linkner opined.

You may have heard of Linkner before. He’s the CEO/Managing Partner of Detroit Venture Partners.  He’s also written a New York Times best seller and updates a weekly blog.

Among the challenges set forth, we need to be looking forward to anticipate the storms.

“Most companies are heads down on the problems of the day,” Linkner said.  “When you’re heads up, you notice new trends and what’s happening… It’s time to double down on innovation and creativity.”

You see there’s a problem in our American culture today.  There’s a dearth of creativity, as children become adults.  Linkner cited statistics that report 98 percent of kindergarteners say they are creative.  That number drops to a startling 2 percent at high school graduation. These kids became adults and something sapped their creativity and killed off their innovation.

The problem as Linkner puts it, is that we destroy the creativity of kids.  “We teach normal but we reward the opposite.”  You can look at the standardization of testing as a problem because if a young student doesn’t fit inside these guidelines they’re considered failing.  “Our bureaucracies beat out the creativity from us,” Linkner said.

Creativity is 85 percent learned behavior, Linkner said, citing another study. “We attribute labels to creativity. It doesn’t matter what your job is. You need to be creative.”

The movie Black Swan springs to mind, the story of a dancer, played by Natalie Portman, who could dance perfectly.  Of course the movie is about more than that, but Portman’s character was chided for lacking the creativity and emotion to dance the Black Swan.  She was like that, because she was brought up to dance perfectly, to do things within the lines and not to break the mold.

We’re scared to break the mold because we might look foolish.  We hide behind timidity.  “The world doesn’t need another me too anything—it needs creativity.”

Originality matters.  We should reward remarkable thinking. We all have a choice.   We can be the storm in the eyes of the competitor. We can be the disruptive force.  We don’t need a time machine to predict the weather; we need new skills to meet our challenges for today.

This is the first of a seven-part series taking a look at how we can be a force of change for those around us.

Introduction: Back to the Future Midwest

Part 1: We don’t need a time machine…to predict the weather.

Part 2: We don’t need a time machine…to stay relevant.

Part 3: We don’t need a time machine…to know where we’re going.

Part 4: We don’t need a time machine…to tell the future.

Part 5: We don’t need a time machine…to live in the clouds.

Part 6: We don’t need a time machine…to bridge the digital divide.

Part 7: We don’t need a time machine…to drive the conversation.