“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of the 32nd president of the United States, reinvented the role of First Lady. Her ability to redefine expectations is a reminder that great leaders always look for opportunities to break the mould.

We constantly need to seek new ways to connect to the world around us; translating the outside development to our organisations’ world and our personal lives. Inspiration plays an important role in that process. Inspiration is a necessity in life to make progress or evolve. The worldwide success of TED is just an example of the need for inspiration. People obviously want to be inspired. So, what is the secret behind inspiration?

Inspiration drives motivation and increases well-being

Inspiration awakens us to new possibilities; it transforms the way we perceive our capabilities. Thrash and Elliot developed the inspiration scale, which measures the frequency with which a person experiences inspiration in their daily lives. They found in their research that inspired individuals have a stronger drive to master their work and are more intrinsically motivated. And as a bonus, inspiration also increases our well-being, which is absolutely valuable when burnouts are the number one cause of absenteeism.

Inspiration as a driver for value creation

In a world where the average organisation’s lifetime has decreased dramatically (average lifespan of a company listed in the S&P 500 index of leading US companies has decreased by more than 50 years in the last century, from 67 years in the 1920s to just 15 years today, according to Professor Richard Foster at Yale University), we need to find new ways of value creation. We need to connect with the outside world in a meaningful way, making sense of changes in our environment in terms of renewing our business models. Therefore, we need to think out of the box, across the borders of our professions, our organisations and our industries. And with the knowledge that scientists have tested and found strong support that inspiration is a key motivator for creativity, we need to facilitate outside inspiration in our organisations to be successful in preparing for what is next.

Cross border approach

Under pressure of improving efficiency, many organisations have gone through various cycles of specialisation; resulting in silo-organisations (inward looking and resisting the sharing information and resources with other people or departments within the organisation). But is this truly the best way to create value? A lot of new initiatives and better ways of doing things are developed across borders, making use of the knowledge and experience of – usually – completely different businesses. The ‘more of the same approach’ might lead to cost-efficiency but doesn’t necessarily lead to optimal value creation.


Oprah Winfrey: Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher.”

Winfrey’s influence on culture by celebrating the success of others is a reminder that great leaders surround themselves with individuals who embody their values and are also striving for success.

We need to connect. Connect to different environments, to different people and to different industries. Connecting intelligence is the true basis for value creation. Inspiration is part of this process. By facilitating outside inspiration in your organisation, new connections will evolve resulting in more intrinsically motivated employees that cooperatively create new value.

How do you inspire your organisation to prepare your organisation for ‘What Is Next’?

Aranka Zondag Aranka Zondag at ELP

Aranka, highly experienced in strategy development, organisation, communication and change management, has a strong reputation for initiating and leading change management programmes and is passionate about supporting individuals and teams in a changing environment.

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