Logically, having a lot of smart people brainstorm at a company could produce more creative thought and innovation. Sadly, the opposite is true. Big companies are almost universally boring and creative innovation is rare as hen’s teeth.
Six reasons why big corporations aren’t creative:
Creativity is scary.
Creative solutions are often disturbingly unfamiliar. It takes courage to present an idea that’s new, unproven, and radically different from what has come before.
Beans counters rule.
Creativity is often squelched in the cost-cutting process. It’s hard to encourage trying something new when bean counters make less workers do more in less time with less resources.
Creativity requires thinking time.
Most people who work for big companies go from task to task and meeting to meeting. People just don’t have time to think.
Creative thinking takes time away from structured activity, but companies pay a heavy price in lost creativity.
Old ideas are endlessly re-cycled
Any marketing idea that worked once is endlessly recycled. “It’s a proven tactic, say the bean counters, account executives, and managers. Stick with it.”
The outside world moves too fast
For people who’ve worked within the corporate world for the past 10 or more years, the Internet is still overwhelming and changes like the growth of social media are just distractions.
The truth is, many, if not most people who are long-term corporate employees have no opportunity to stay current, let along cutting edge.
Seeing friends and relatives being laid off, cut back or fired has most people afraid to rock the boat. People are afraid to present ideas that challenge conventional wisdom.
Six ways to foster creativity
- We all need to demand time to think.
That means cutting out meaningless meetings; making necessary meetings 15 minutes instead of an hour; and insisting that every single person leave the office for at least one half hour a day to get fresh air and exercise – and clear their head.
- Do something unrelated to the task at hand.
Many of the best ideas come when one is in the shower, or doing something completely unrelated to the problem you are trying to solve.
- Bosses need to reward creative thinking.
Yes, some people will just goof off if they’re given free time to think. But the ones who come up with breakthroughs in thinking will more than make up for that.
While creativity may be part of the hard wiring, we all have the gene, and creative thought can be encouraged with example and encouragement.
- People need to be taught to meditate, or otherwise clear their minds.
Dancing works for me. So does walking in the park with my dog.
What works for you?
- Companies need to become willing to take the risk of presenting ideas that offer solutions nobody has tried before.
- Don’t only give clients what they want.
No creative person or agency should just be giving clients what they want. They should be offering clients what they need.
Create or Die Cube grenade by Hugh Macleod
Thank you very much for this post. I totally agree and could not have put it better.
The static-ness of big companies is exactly why the energy and youth of startups will always be attractive and necessary. David may not always win when up against Goliath straight up, but he will present creative ideas that will drive even a mature industry for years (see Honest Tea).
Thanks again, this is why I never miss a post!