Why is creativity often frowned upon in the business world? We like to think that this is the case in particularly “traditional” or “conservative” companies, but in reality it happens much more often than we’d like to admit.
In this article, Edoardo Binda Zane, author of Amazon bestseller Effective Decision-Making, throws a light on creativity, what it can do for businesses, and why we’re getting it all wrong.
So for the next few minutes, let’s try to consider why this is the case, and whether we should (or should not) be more open about it.
Oh, So You Are One of Those Creative Types?
Let’s start with how we perceive creativity. If I imagine some of my previous direct and indirect supervisors, I see their behaviour and attitude: static, comfortably confined within the boundaries of their success, and unwilling to follow new, or different lines of business under the assumption that, “if this is working for us, why change?” In some cases, they had a point, indeed, but that is strategy, and a different topic.
People have been using brainstorming to stifle—not stimulate their creative juices. – Richard Wiseman
Sticking to where we were, within such a team, a purely creative attitude can be considered anywhere between too daring and unprofessional. Yet, at least once a year, the team asked to sit together in a room and to brainstorm on a new strategy to follow or on a new product to focus on.
Apart from the effectiveness of brainstorming (hint: none) can we expect a team locked on path dependency to suddenly and comfortably be creative?
Creativity Doesn’t Originate From the Business World
There is a larger issue we’re dealing with here: businesses, any business, need to be creative to innovate and to remain competitive. Competitiveness can be broken down into three parts: having good ideas, selecting the right one, and applying it well.
In other words: creating, deciding and executing.
Executing is the phase for which businesses have the most literature and experience available, whereas there is a lot less for decision-making and creativity. I have published a book on decision-making methods, so I’d rather refer you to that. Creativity, instead, is the phase where information is most scarce.
More often than not, in fact, heads of companies and units don’t know how to activate a creative mode in their team. They are not to blame, of course. Being creative is not part of where they come from, unless they have a practical and in-depth interest in art, or music, or any other purely creative field.