Killing Creativity

“Come on! Our company doesn’t kill creativity!! We cultivate it at every step.”

Unfortunately, killing creativity is a common corporate compulsion. Companies stress, “Creativity’s important. We know it can mean the difference between a growing business and a stalled business.”

But, what a company says is often different than what a company does – and managerial habits often hinder innovation. Maybe you’ll identify with some of the way management murders creativity.

The Stealer

All of a sudden you get a great idea on how to improve the process. Then you see your boss looking at you and you know that your idea will never fly. That is, it will fly high – but not with your wings.

He’s a creativity stealer. By stealing your ideas and then passing them off as his own, he robs every ounce of initiative from his workers. They ask themselves, “If it’s only going to glorify him, why bother?”

Does this happen in your corporation?

The English Teacher

My friend and I were talking on the phone. Ted said, “Jean, my father would crush, albeit temporarily, the creativity out of me. I don’t think it was mean spirited. It was rather a lack of understanding. I would write these plays, and I would show them to him. Then instead of telling me what he thought of my idea, he would pick out the typos.”

In your corporation, when a subordinate comes up with a new idea, do most managers immediately start thinking why it won’t work? Or do they purposely calm that critical corporate voice, and instead concentrate on what’s good with the idea?

The Revenge of the Non-Company Un-Cloned

Have you ever heard a creative friend say, “There are some companies that I’ve told myself that I will never work for. Why? Because everyone that works for them must fit the mould. Everyone must look, act and think alike. I just know that my originality and innovation would be swallowed up by them.”

Did you know that cities known for great creativity and innovation only gained their reputations after becoming a mixing point for cultures and ideas?

Many HR managers hire for fit. It sure can make the day-to-day running of a company easier. But does hiring for fit match the medium-term and long-term goals of your company?

Does your company mix it up or match it up?

It’s Always Raining on My Parade

“The first words out of his mouth usually were, ‘That can’t be done.’ But sometimes it might be: No; I don’t like it; but we’ve always done it that way; or don’t mess with something that works. It really doesn’t matter what he said because his negative attitude just sucked that creative sensation out of me, leaving me wilted and wondering why I even tried.”

Creative people have possibility thinking. But they’re also realistic. Many great thinkers follow the Walt Disney example:

  • Day 1) Pie in the sky everything is possible.
  • Day 2) Now how to make those ideas realistic?

The Sadist

“She lurked, watching every move. Whenever she thought I wasn’t working, she would snap her whip, shouting loudly, “Get back to work. We pay you to work, not sit around.” She never realized that I wasn’t just sitting around, I was thinking. What did the company lose? New ideas and a motivated staff.”

“I’ve heard of other bosses that must be related to my old boss – these ones say, ‘We don’t pay you to think; that’s our job.’”


So, are you still saying, “Come on! Our company doesn’t kill creativity!! We cultivate it at every step.” Or do some of your managerial habits hinder innovation?

If you’ve seen yourself in this article, recognizing that you need to change is the first step. You can do it. With practice, you’ll soon be cultivating creativity instead of killing it.

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