The reality of managers having problems they’re unwilling to admit with people expressing creativity is a subject I’ve wanted to cover for a long time.

The initial desire to address it came from talking with an executive about a new position he was intending to fill. In describing the role and type of person he wanted, he proceeded to explain where we he wanted the person to be creative and where he didn’t.

I was dumbfounded by his audacity and misguided thinking in expecting someone to turn creativity on and off. Over time, it’s proven to be a clear issue. While never saying it directly, the meaning behind his words continually reinforces his view of creativity as frivolous, threatening, and an impediment slowing down implementation of “real” things.

Being able to address opportunities and challenges creatively is completely positive, yet too often, it’s not appreciated or cultivated within companies. This post from Strategy Driven Innovation by Jatin DeSai titled “Forget “Creativity”, Embrace “Creativeness”- A workforce strategy for the future!” addresses the topic by drawing an interesting distinction between “creativity” and “creativeness.”

Until I get other thoughts down in writing, this article provides a starting point for conversations with senior people undermining organizational success by getting in the way of their people bringing creativeness to business efforts.

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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4 Responses to “What Do You Do When Management Hates Creativity?”

  1. Seth Simonds says:

    Keep me posted as you continue to get your thoughts in writing!

    I’ve had similar experiences being the “young buck” on a management team. Resistance to ideas and “creativity” can come in a lot of forms and for many different reasons. I’m excited to see where this conversations takes all of us!


  2. Shira Abel Shvo says:

    It’s all in the delivery. If you show the value – then the creativity will be appreciated. Creativity just for the sake of it, however, is not always the best use of your time.

  3. Paul Taylor says:

    Good post

    yeh, I had a lot of experience of this working for fortune 500 companies. When I first started out my response was to try and change that culture. After banging my head on that brick wall for 10 years I gave up and left those companies or bosses who could not “manage” creativity constructively.

    Soon after that I wanted more and quit big companies completely, to make something of my own.

    Whats left is a feeling that, the place for creativity is limited in a hierarchy that fosters mediocraty rather than merit. In my view it’s the luck of the draw that determines how your “superior” deals with your creative nature and the potentially astounding outcomes that it produces.

    That creative drive can be overwhelming for people who have it and damming it up doesn’t seem healthly. Learn to harness it and you have got something to take you all the way to the top… if that’s where you want to go.

  4. Mike Brown says:

    Thanks Seth for getting the comments started and to Shira and Paul for keeping them going.

    As Seth says, thwarting creativity does come in many forms. This post talks about some of the more subtle forms of censorship that show up in business.

    In getting around it, Shira’s comment on delivery is important. Often, I’ve found one of the best ways to share fresher thinking is to simply introduce an idea with no fanfare – don’t call it new, don’t let people see how you generated it. Just introduce an idea or approach with a solid foundation and spare everyone how it came to life. How are others approaching it?

    Paul’s comment also comes into play in determining where you invest time to make a difference in life. It’s a question we should all be asking ourselves continually – “Am I in the right environment to maximize my contribution to my life’s mission?” The answer is fundamental in making sure we’re able to deliver the greatest benefits for others.

    Again, thanks for the comments!