Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Creativity: three reasons why organisations have less than we would like

First, because we know better how to put down creativity than to create it – see Haefele’s suggestions, but no doubt you can add some corkers of your own:

 “We tried something like that years ago”
 “That’s ridiculous/ too radical”
 “Let’s form a committee to consider it”
 “That’s against policy”
 “Has it been tried elsewhere?”
 “It won’t work”
 “That’s too obvious/ superficial”
 “We could never market that”
 “That’s interesting but … we don’t have the time … the staff …”
 “That ‘s not the kind of idea we expect from you”

Source: Haefele, J. (1962) Creativity and innovation. New York: Reinhold Publishing Company.

Secondly, because we don’t employ the sort of people who are especially likely to be creative. Remember Tom Peters’ slogan: “Crazy times need crazy people”, followed by his warning about that department in your organization, one of whose key tasks is to make sure that any job applicant whose CV shows even a nano-second gap between the moment they left university and the moment they applied for this job, then THEY ARE NOT TO BE SHORT-LISTED!

Actually, even these potential creatives are short-listed, what chance do they have of getting the job? Remember Anthony Storr’s summary of the research into the characteristics of creative people (below) and ask yourself “How many people like this will get through our tests and interview panels?”

Characteristics of creative people:

- Independence
- Influenced by inner rather than outer standards
- Likely to belong to fewer organisations & social groups
- Sceptical, reluctant to acquiesce in the findings of authority
- Aesthetic Sensitivity
- Concern with form & elegance of design
- Preference for Complexity, Asymmetry & Incompleteness
- High level of tolerance of tension & anxiety
- 'Incapable of remaining content with half-knowledge' (Keats)
- High Intelligence
- Level of intellectual ability (but not necessarily IQ scores)
- (For males) High Scores on Scales Measuring ‘Feminity’
- Openness to own feelings and emotions
- Understanding self-awareness
- More than average share of vanity, narcissism

Source: Anthony Storr (1976), The dynamics of creation. London: Penguin Books.

And, anyway, apart from you and me, how many such people ARE there around, nowadays?!!!

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