"Mythical Myths"

2007
Jun
7

I thought my capability for outrage had been totally exhausted (I didn’t even react to Paris Hilton getting out of jail or Scooter Libby getting so much support to keep him out of jail), but a piece in the ‘business oriented’ website/magazine called “Fast Company” has gotten my blood to a full rolling boil.

The piece itself, titled “The 6 Myths Of Creativity” is actually a solid contender for the Wendell Award for 2007 for “Uncanny Grasp of the Obvious”. But the sad, sorry, terrible fact that the myths listed have been so widely accepted for so many years is the true outrage. The subtitle refers to “A new study [that] will change how you generate ideas and decide who’s really creative in your company” but the only new thing about the study is the fact that it is in a weblication/publication that targets the deeply deluded in the business of business.

So clip your noses tight to protect you from the stench. Here come the myths:

1. Creativity Comes From Creative Types… Come on, what is that old saying that “everybody has at least one great idea”? And ‘creative types’ (like me) don’t have that many more great ideas, we just have a boatload of bad ideas that compete for space with the few good ones. There. I’ve admitted it.

2. Money Is a Creativity Motivator… which is why there is so much creativity in the top blockbuster movies coming out of Hollywood – “Spiderman 3” “Shrek 3” “Pirates 3″… I can hardly wait for “Die Hard 4”. (I know, easy target, but there are so many examples of the most money-making creative endeavors being the LEAST creative that I don’t want to waste my time – or yours – on them)

3. Time Pressure Fuels Creativity… Deadlines? They have some influence on people like me – I’ve admitted before that I have tendencies toward both procrastination and perfectionism that can keep me from accomplishing almost anything. But making them more creative? All you get are cut corners – and those corners aren’t even well rounded. I discovered years ago at work that the road to happiness was giving your supervisors a realistically pessimistic timetable, and consistently beating it by a comfortable margin.

4. Fear Forces Breakthroughs… GET CREATIVE OR ELSE? The idea that this idiotic concept ever caught hold in American Business explains so-o-o-o much about what’s wrong with American Business (that and #2).

5. Competition Beats Collaboration… Old cliche that really IS true: Two heads are better than one. And requiring the two heads to bash against each other only causes brain damage.

6. A Streamlined Organization Is a Creative Organization… When everything flows totally smoothly through a system, the only output is diarrhea. The times and places where the flow of work gets stopped (often by roadblocks further down the process) are often the only times and places you can step back and think about how to make things better.

Again, these were not just Six Myths… they were Six Big Lies, most often used to generate something OTHER than Creativity. Whew, I feel better now. Okay, I’ll return to the usual entertaining tone of this blog soon… just don’t put a deadline on it.

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