How To Kill Creativity

by Nov 11, 2011Work and Life

Is everyone creative? The debate rages. Let’s stipulate that everyone is … or can be.

So, why do companies have trouble getting employees to be “creative,” and why do so many people feel stifled at work?

One model of the creative process suggests that there are 4 stages:
1. Preparation
2. Incubation
3. Illumination
4. Implementation

To my observation, most companies (and many creativity consultants) attempt to push people from stage #1 right to stage #3. The popular technique of brainstorming is a prime example. When a group brainstorms, people throw out ideas without censoring them, and capture them in the hopes that the process will produce rough gems that can be mined for value forthwith.

Contrast that to the idiosyncratic processes employed by productive creative people from artists to entrepreneurs to programmers. After deciding to tackle the project or possibility and before spitting out ideas and proposals, they let things percolate. They get up from the desk and go for a run. They bake. They take naps. They temporarily detach themselves from the problem at hand. Typically they spend some time in solitude. They relax their time frame for coming up with that Great Idea.

Want to help your people be more creative? Shred those copies of Never Eat Alone.

Barbara Ruth Saunders is a writer, editor, and writing coach.