In the last decennia, the process of change has been speeding up exponentially. And still, as an organisation, you want to be a step ahead of both market and competition. Sure, creative thinking will help you to move forward, to improve and innovate and to reshape challenges into solutions.
Yet there are many hidden factors that withhold us of generating and implementing creative ideas. These ‘enemies of creativity’ come in different shapes. Some of them are external, others are internal. What they all have in common is that they are often stuck in our organizational culture. Or – perhaps even worse - in our own reasoning. Let's highlight six of them, in no particular order.
Fear can be an external as well as an internal enemy. Your creative idea might frighten your management (how will it impact the organisation?) but it can also bring uncertainty to yourself (how will it impact my job, my position, my reputation?). We are aware of the current situation and even if that situation is far from perfect, the anxiety of taking a step into the dark is often a bridge too far. When doing nothing, at least things cannot go worse…
In a business environment, a critical attitude and a fast response time are often encouraged. That's unfortunate. Ideas are like seeds: we can only know that it turns into a beautiful flower when we give it the chance to grow. Postponing premature judgment is probably one of the hardest habits to combat. And the most stubborn enemy to defeat.
Ideas are like seeds: we can only know that it turns into a beautiful flower when we give it the chance to grow.
In many cases, deadlines can have a stimulating effect on generating ideas. It obliges people to stay focused and concentrated. On the other hand, when deadlines are too short or when the pressure gets too high time after time, people will switch on autopilot in order to get the job done. And there’s no more room for creativity. In addition to time constraints, other forms of pressure might stifle creativity: budget constraints, lack of resources, poor working conditions, etc.
This enemy has a lot in common with fear, but perhaps it is still more persistent. Tradition often refers to strict – written or unwritten – rules that need to be followed at al times. These rules might be completely obsolete and counterproductive, but they are cherished by the organization as a dogma. We all know the monster named bureaucracy. It takes a bunch of courage to fight that one.
When deadlines are too short or when the pressure gets too high, people will switch on autopilot in order to get the job done.
Here again, this evil foe can be both external and internal. Sometimes pessimism is a result of repeated setbacks. People or organisations lack the courage to give it another try and even the most brilliant ideas can’t generate any enthusiasm. But pessimism can also be an attitude that might have grown out of a lack of (creative) self-esteem. Another nasty beast to conquer.
Often apathy derives from demotivation. The source of demotivation can be a lack of recognition from the top for instance, or performing a task that has no challenge. If someone’s not really engaged, there’s little chance he or she will come up with groundbreaking ideas. Change and innovation requires a long period of creative thinking, so it can easily be killed by the apathy murderers.