Note

“We celebrate the after-effect of creativity” – Barry Staw

1 minute read

We think of creative people in a heroic manner, and we celebrate them, but the thing we celebrate is the after-effect

As much as we celebrate independence in Western cultures, there is an awful lot of pressure to conform

Unexceptional ideas are far more likely to be accepted than wonderful ones.

Studies show that teachers overwhelmingly discriminate against creative students, favoring their satisfier classmates who more readily follow directions and do what they’re told.

A wonderful, fact-backed article by Jessica Olien that shows how our celebration of creative behaviours is really the celebration of its results and not of the behaviour itself.

One of the reason I like this article is that shows how positives and negatives play together. There’s rejection, yet acceptance of the successful result. And the rejection itself can even be a positive thing for certain people:

A Cornell study makes the case that social rejection is not actually bad for the creative process—and can even facilitate it. The study shows that if you have the sneaking suspicion you might not belong, the act of being rejected confirms your interpretation.

There’s also an interesting side of it that the article hints but not highlights.

Truly creative ideas take a very long time to be accepted.

This in other terms means that it’s very hard to distinguish between a “stupid” idea and a “creative” idea, because a stupid one will be treated exactly in the same way: rejection, refusal, isolation.

There’s only one way to deal with this big problem: respect. Respect the idea and give people the freedom to follow through. This allows people to face the fail of stupid ideas and learn from it, and to reach the success of creative ideas.

(Notice also how it’s very difficult to talk about this without connotating negatively or positively the two. Ideas are just ideas, creative and stupid is just a post-fact label to create guilt if it failes and boost ego if it succeeds.)

You can read the full article here: Olien J. (2013) Inside the Box.

Thanks to Dave Martin for the link.