Fire fighters don’t build things, they save things. They deal with a specific problem and do their best to leave things as close to OK as they can. It’s not a creative process. No one expects them to put down the hose pipe and pick up a paint brush.

Teams that spend most of their time fire fighting don’t push things forward, don’t invent new products or win clients or change the world. They strive for a nil sum – on a good day, just getting back to where they started.

If fire fighting becomes standard operating procedure, there’s no room for the creative engine and the next breakthrough. It gets drowned in cold water.

You have to fight the fires, but do it properly. Starve them of oxygen. Use whatever energy you have left to engineer them out of the system so they can’t spark back to life. Make them the exception not the rule.

Wheel the creativity engine back in the building. Make it purr.

Skippy Strategy: Next time you get that “not again” feeling, put out the fire AND deal with the source. Build a sand-box if you have to, but make sure creativity has space and support.