How companies crush creativity

Frankie Kemp

19 July 2015

Even when companies know the value of creativity, they unwittingly block it from happening.

Here are some of the subtle and more obvious ways creative problem solving is squashed like a rat under a rhino.


1.  No time to be creative

If people are rushing from one meeting to another and are overworked, they’ve no time to throw around ideas.  Downtime to think laterally, speak to people and have those coffee machine chats is where stuff gets solved, initiated and created.  Stillness and play are, for the most part, under-rated and misunderstood in business.


2.  Boring meetings

No results and deviating from the agenda don’t help.    Look here for how you can keep people to the point.  Meetings without energy mean that people have to work extra hard at shaking off the lethargy.  Part of the problem is that brainstorming meetings are confused with ones where information simply needs to be given, thereby crushing any vitality that may have been floating in the ether.


3.  Contracts don’t last as long as the cycle of the project

This means staff won’t even see the outcome of their designs so they will have little care about contributing to how the end looks. Furthermore, a lack of job security can affect the ability to think differently:  people will be more concerned with redoing their CVs.


4.  Demanding on the small stuff

Sweating the small stuff can be crucial but is more often a comfort blanket. Preoccupation with detail can delay reaching goals and result in bags of wasted time.


5.  ‘Yes but’

There are a thousand excuses for not being creative. Some organisations prefer to stick with the familiar old devils.   Changing – even if it makes more business sense – seems like too much of a hassle.


6.  Pressure for results

Too much stress on delivering outcomes rather than allowing time to test and tweak can mean relying on some half-baked idea from last time.  Oh well, keep your fingers crossed and hope, this time, it works.


7.  No allocation of resources

Time’s the big one but people, equipment and money may come into play as well.


8.  Too many ideas floating around and not captured centrally  

It’s fun coming up with ideas but how are they captured and seen through to realisation?  Innovation is creativity captured and made into something. Otherwise, it’s just an exercise in free thinking which isn’t bad in itself but may not result in the Next Big Thing.


9.   Demoralising environment

No natural light; sticking the kitchen half way down the corridor; lack of comfortable seating areas; screens everywhere: basically, a modern-day workhouse.


10.  Lack of cohesion between people

Too much tribalism between departments results in a limited way of approaching issues.  Groups that have no spirit of cohesion or too much fear and negativity around them will be very hesitant about giving their ideas, or building upon those of others.


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