Wile E. Coyote and board recruitment strategies

I recently came across a fantastic apologetic for mixing it up when recruiting new board members — and it’s done without once using the “d” word. Robert Fabricant’s playful references to Wile E.Coyote in communicating serious points about creativity and the importance of diversity (that’s the “d” word of my reference) of perspectives, make for a fun read (to be expected from a firm called Frog Design).

So don’t be deceived by the cartoon characters. There’s a lot of grown-up wisdom for board development committees in them thar paragraphs.  I hope the following highlights will encourage you to read more.

Would Wile E. be anywhere as creative without Road Runner? Creativity emerges out of relationships; it’s the tension between different ideas and perspectives and so it is risky to define it as an ability that we inherently possess. Wile E.’s inventions always fail because he has no one to collaborate with, only Road Runner to inspire them.

The key to true creativity is having many types of intelligence at the table. After all, how does Road Runner always manage to be in the right place at the right time? He might possess a different type of intelligence than Wile E., but one that is equally wily.

Creativity is driven by social dynamics. How can we ever be creative without feeling this human connection and without being able to bounce our ideas off of each other? The heartbreaking thing about the show is not that Wile E. never gets his meal. It is that his efforts are never acknowledged by Road Runner at all. The best he can do is look knowingly out at the camera–out at us–hoping for some sympathy before he falls (and falls and falls) to the empty desert floor.

Creativity is not an innate ability–it is the end result of many forms of intelligence coming together, and intelligence born out of collaboration and out of networks. Perhaps true CQ (Creativity Quotient) resides in the group and the community, and not the individual.

All good advice when going after board recruits. Beep. Beep.


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