I’ve had more than a few bosses talk continually about creativity. It’s something I've often heard early in my career and it’s something I continually hear today. It would appear everybody wants to be creative and that even includes those who aren’t.
Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with having a desire to be original and innovative. There’s nothing wrong with the desire to be gifted or talented either. I remember listening to truly talented musicians who could make magic with their voice or their instrument. I knew no matter how hard I practiced or how hard I worked I could never reach their skill level. They were blessed with a special gift and that was pretty much it. Of course, this never dampened my love for music. I was playing music simply for the joy of it. The fact I was only a marginal musician didn’t really bother me because I was well aware of my limitation.
I can’t say the same for a fair number of former bosses who were convinced they were blessed with creativity. Usually their ideas were bland, lackluster and derivative. Naturally, they never saw it that way because they were convince their concepts were brilliant. They were in charge after all, so it must be true. I can’t help but think back on all the projects that were ruined by executives who mistakenly thought they had original ideas. In most cases their ideas were awful, but you’d never convince them of that. More than a few projects went down in flames because of bone-headed ideas foisted on us by executives who saw themselves as, “creative.” I still remember one executive who thought of himself as a brilliant filmmaker simply because he had seen a lot of movies. I guess reading a lot of books would probably make one an author. I was once blessed with the opportunity to work for a major entertainment company that was brim full of creative individuals with ground breaking ideas. Plus, we also had a management that supported creativity and cleared the way for exploration, innovation and originality. That marvelous, magical combination ignited a creative powerhouse that drove the company forward and left competitors in its wake.
It’s not all bad news, of course. Creativity can still survive and thrive today. However, that will require informed leadership that will allow it to happen.