Monday, January 06, 2014

Do We Really Like Creative People (or not)?

Jessica Olien has a great article at Slate titled, "Inside the box: People don't actually like creativity. "  In the essay, she stresses the notion that many people and organizations value conformity much more than out-of-the-box thinking.   She quotes University of California-Berkeley Professor Barry Staw, who says, “We think of creative people in a heroic manner, and we celebrate them, but the thing we celebrate is the after-effect... As much as we celebrate independence in Western cultures, there is an awful lot of pressure to conform."   Staw argues that we often reward the "satisfiers" rather than the bold thinkers.  Olien even argues that the bias against creativity begins in our schools. She writes, "Unfortunately, the place where our first creative ideas go to die is the place that should be most open to them—school. Studies show that teachers overwhelmingly discriminate against creative students, favoring their satisfier classmates who more readily follow directions and do what they’re told."   

For those interested in more reading about the research on this topic,  I suggest taking a look at one of my old blog posts, in which I describe the research of Jennifer Mueller and her colleagues.  It suggests that a "penalty" against creativity individuals exists in many organizations.  


russconte said...

Thanks for the post. Lots of companies would do very well to listen to the advice presented in the research. My experience has shown that nearly all creative ideas are rejected over and over and over. The creative ideas companies accept are already verified, such as those done by a competitor.

Many companies are sitting on a gold mine of excellent ideas from their own employees and customers, but only the ideas from Corporate get implemented, and those tend to be mediocre or worse.

If someone can figure out how to get Corporate American to listen to the creative ideas of its own employees and customers, the benefits would be huge, the expense would be minimal, and all they have to do is recognize what the research already says - tap into the creativity that's already there.

Thanks for excellent posts!

russconte said...

I would add one other comment - Howard Aiken has a quote that I find to be very true, "Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats."

This shows how incredibly difficult it is to get new ideas accepted. My experience matches this extremely well.


mike said...

For me, it was summed up accurately in Clay Christensen's book the Innovator's DNA. Most executives are "deliverers" and not "discoverers". They have to hit the numbers, manage the budgets, etc. There is no creative bent to most managers.

What most companies need is a "Chief Creative/Innovation Officer" with the horsepower to drive results.

Unknown said...

All such theory depend on man or women empowerment.
Yes most people looking creative people either they are male or female each make to each other.

jennifer anderson said...

interesting point