Friday 8 July 2016


Idea concept"All of us are creative. Every time we stick a handy object under the leg of a wobbly table or think up a new way to bribe a child into his pajamas, we have used our faculties to create a novel outcome."
                                                                        Steven Pinker in How the Mind Works 

So, if you think that you are going to hire a creative genius for your creativity famished organization you will only end up paying a hefty compensation getting in return more or less what the other guy can contribute.

According to Pinker the image of the creative genius as a wonk, getting struck with ideas like lightening, which distinguishes creative geniuses, is inherited by us from the Romantic movement of two hundred years ago. That image is so well entrenched in us that "Creativity consultants take millions of dollars from corporations for Dilbertesque workshops on brainstorming, lateral thinking, and flow from the right side of the brain, guaranteed to turn every manager into an Edison."

The reality is that every one of your managers is creative. If the organizational environment provides them the motivation to slog like the "creative genius" they will all be able to generate creative ideas. After all, as Pinker says, creative people contribute by pursuing ideas, correcting mistakes and improving on earlier unsuccessful attempts. Creativity, therefore, is not the story of striking diamonds from a big bang but collecting little grains of sand gradually making it a bagful with a few shiny grains here and there.

Why then so much romance is built around creative geniuses? Pinker says."...creative people are at their most creative when writing their autobiographies. Historians have scrutinized their diaries, notebooks, manuscripts, and correspondence looking for signs of the temperamental seer periodically struck by bolts from the unconscious. Alas, they found that the creative genius is more Salieri than Amedeus".

Given that everyone of us is gifted with the creative grain, why do we still consider the creative genius as a rarity? The answer is with the way the organization provides the environment for nourishing creativity. Few organizations provide that environment. Taking cues from Pinker we can mention some of the important aspects of the organizational environment which nourishes creativity:
1. The typical genius slogs at least for ten years before contributing anything of lasting value. The organization should be patient enough to provide this long rope before expecting big returns.
2. The creative genius keeps an eye on the competition and "a finger to the wind." They are discriminating or lucky in choice of the problem. Therefore, the cut-throat competitive environment of modern business organization is a stimulant to creativity. Nurturing a system of support to identify the right problem will be useful. Good system of mentoring can come handy.
3. The esteem of others is important to the creative genius. The teams need to support positively. The huge challenge to the organization is backing the genius with esteem of the team while at the same time keeping the place hot with cut-throat competition between individuals.
4. Creative geniuses work too hard for long hours. They leave behind mountains of sub genius works. Organizations need to appreciate that pure gold is found amidst mountains of mud. Patience on the part of the organization pays.    .

It is worthwhile remembering always that creative geniuses "...are not freaks with minds utterly unlike ours or unlike anything we can imagine in a species that has always lived by its wits. The genius creates good ideas because we all create good ideas...".  
On 7/08/2016


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