Do we need permission to be creative?

I’ve just got back from fastBREAK, an initiative of Vibewire‘s e-festival of ideas (held in conjunction with the Australian Innovation Festival). I joined the Creativity group and had some great discussions around how we create, the restrictions, the process and some results. We talked about how frustrating it is not be given the opportunity to be creative because it’s not in our job title, or we don’t work at Google (infamous for their freedom to spend 25% of their time on innovation).  On the way home, I started thinking about something. Why do we feel we need permission to be creative?

ideas Jye Smith challenged us in his presentation to think about how we define creativity. How many of us restrict the definition to artists, musicians or writers? Are we missing a creative outlet in our own roles? Can a database manager who discovers a new and brilliant way to manipulate and interpret data declare themselves creative? Why the hell not?

We talked about the fear of failure and how many great ideas never leave the confines of the local pub. Getting creative when the outcome isn’t so personal is a great way to give you the confidence you need to act on your big ideas. But in a business environment the fear of failure involves more than your ego – it’s the company’s time, money and business critical services that can feel the impact of both success and failure. I understand that while we might see ourselves as proactive and dedicated with a great work ethic, the majority of staff in businesses are just there for the paycheck. So giving those barely willing to turn up in the morning free reign to work outside their role may not seem like an attractive idea. Instead we punish those who have the potential to create the kind of initiatives that make the difference between a good business and a great business.

So we find ourselves in quarterly meetings talking up big ideas with post it notes and brightly coloured pens. Your management team might consider this as providing you with a creative outlet and feel satisfied that they are fostering innovation. It’s obviously not scratching our itch so instead of sitting back and complaining, what are we going to do about it?

Thanks to the Vibewire team for a great morning of interesting and thought provoking conversations. Also thanks to Gavin Heaton for getting creative.

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~ by mandi bateson on May 8, 2009.

7 Responses to “Do we need permission to be creative?”

  1. […] my 4 minutes of spotlight has been overshadowed with sociotques detailed insight: So we find ourselves in quarterly meetings talking up big ideas with post it notes and brightly […]

  2. Innovation and creativity happen in all different ways and in places where “creatives” may not tend to look. And the thing to remember is that to be an innovator, you need to know the rules (so you can break them, bend them to your will etc).

    This applies to database managers, accountants, bank managers, artists, plumbers … anyone. Glad you could make it!

  3. Indeed, creativity is important in any field, the accountants that developed MYOB and other accounting software have had incalculable impact on the way small businesses operate. Yet accounting isn’t an occupation typically associated with creativity (unless its Enron style “creative accounting”).

    A company that encourages creativity in their employees will also improve their job satisfaction. There’s nothing like feeling like you’ve made a difference to inspire fulfillment.

  4. The only permission we need to ask is of ourselves.

    I want to ban the words “creativity” and “innovation”. Can we just say “doing cool stuff” instead? Otherwise we create innovation departments & creativity training courses & all that BS.

    Socioteque – I am going to make a request. I would like a(nother) small act of creativity posted here on this blog please. Just a small one. Here. Now. Something. Anything.

    I will then respond. Make me an offer. Go on.

  5. Matty Matty Matty Moore
    always being provocateur
    you either intrepidly explore
    or run rampant like a wild boar

    (please excuse this verse most poor)

  6. Oscar – Don’t make me break out the iambic pentameters on yr ass. The amount of weight I’ve piled on recently, your razorback verse is not wide of the mark.

    Socioteque – There’s no way I’m giving you permission. You’re going to have to take it…

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