Meetings and Events

    Leaders Hate the Concept of Creativity

    Painting Title_123SNARK ALERT

    I’m not trying to be snarky. I am snarky. I’ve always been snarky.  I like being snarky, it’s fun.

    Here’s the problem: Being snarky is a bit like being the boy that cried wolf. When you’re being a smart ass just for practice you often stretch the truth. Okay, I often throw the truth out the window to be funny or to shock — but not in this blogg!

    As a creativity and innovation writer I suppress my inner Snark in order to be taken seriously. But now I think I’m doing you a disservice.

    The value of SNARK is it can be a wakeup call. As an innovation thought leader, I’m here to help. You can improve, you can innovate. But you have to face the facts.

    So when I wrote my recent post about the Eight Politically Incorrect Things About Innovation I was actually pulling my punches, trying not to be snarky.  The “truth” about innovation as an expertise is even worse than I stated.

    That’s why I’m going to be a bit snarky here — to get your attention.

    For instance when I said that Leadership Doesn’t Understand Creativity, what I really meant to say is Leadership hates the concept of creativity. Why? Because it represents scary things like change, chaos, and risk, and, uh oh, those icky creative people. Leaders only want as much creativity as is needed to keep the business afloat. Maybe even a little less. They lie through their teeth when they say they want creativity. That’s the PC answer in a CEO survey. That’s creativity in theory. In the real world, in their own organizations — they really don’t want creativity. They really do want innovation but they’d like to skip the creativity step. Leaders are frustrated trying to use creativity — because it doesn’t respond to the levers they are used to levering. They don’t know how to use the concept of creativity because it’s not formulaic. Applied Creativity is frustratingly elusive, it takes time, effort, and knowledge of arcane arts like spontaneous thinking, improvisation, CPS, and design. At times it’s annoyingly painful, deeply painful. Leaders do not want creativity induced pain. It’s true that leadership doesn’t understand creativity but that masks the deeper truth that they are scared to death of it and hate the very concept of creativity.

    A real snarky dude would say that Leaders hate creative people. Wow, I said it. Leaders work hard at hiding that hate, most of the time, but deep down, they can’t stand those loosey-goosey, goofy, wacky, complicated, emotional, needy, fun-loving creative people. Maybe hate is a bit strong, but still, creatives have those bad habits. Creative people come in late sometimes. They resist authority, they question dogma, they laugh too loud and chew with their mouths open. Leaders want creative people to wear suits and ties. They wish they would just shut up with all their freakin ideas. Leaders wish creative people would go into a closet or a workshop somewhere far from the executive offices. They do wish their creative people would create something amazing — but please do it quietly, and without upsetting the cultural apple cart. And for God’s sake don’t mess with operations.

    The truth is: Leaders only want creativity when they ARE DESPERATE. Innovation initiatives are often the child born of absolute panic. I’m talking the white-knuckled, scared-the-company-is going-to-go-under, I’m-going-to-lose-my-high-paid-job kind of panic. When there is a huge emergency that’s when leaders start looking around for those creative people they hate. Under extreme duress they seek the ideas for new products and services that will rescue them. Not a moment sooner. It’s very hard to talk a drunk into AA until they hit bottom. Leaders who hate creativity have to hit bottom before they appreciate its value.

    But Gregg you say — some leaders appreciate and encourage creativity. I say the exception proves the rule. Those hip executives that do support creativity tend to stand out — because they get amazing innovation results. How many companies are getting notably “amazing results?” How many are just getting by? I rest my case. And some of those leaders appreciating creativity are doing it holding their noses (it beats a blank). Others are closet creatives and pretend to hold their noses. It’s a rule that high level business leaders must exhibit disdain for creative people. I’ve seen this even in ad agencies!

    God forbid letting them in the boardroom.

    So, sorry for the snarkiness here, but if you work in innovation and seek to improve these are truths that need faced. I’m just trying to help. Leaders look into your souls. Learn more about creativity and creative people. There are ways to manage creativity. Start by training yourself.

    This blog post and associated concepts make for an eye opening talk or keynote. Hire me, I’ll make you laugh — and cry. I’ll be a little bit snarky — in a helpful way.

    And yes, I have remedies, some of which don’t even involve any drugs, alcohol, laxatives, or improvisational role plays.




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