Creativity is Overrated in Organizations

Creativity is often overrated in organizations.

Creativity is often used as a camouflage to avoid talking about something more pressing, such as empowerment and power.

When facing the creativity scarcity, instead of addressing the root cause of employees being powerless in both acting on ideas and taking risks, people in power often choose to pay lip service to creativity, and even set up camouflage programs to promote creativity, while doing nothing to actually empower people to become creative.

By emphasizing “being creative under constraints”, employees are often encouraged to regard the organizational, political or cultural issues as immutable and non-negotiable, therefore skew the focus on organizational challenges towards other lower-level issues that don’t challenge the existing power structure or mode of operation.

By promoting creativity as merely a funnel for generating ideas (in the forms of hackathon, workshop, design jam, or innovation programs), employees are discouraged to focus on actually implementing those ideas.

The long-term effect of those camouflage maneuvers is that employees gradually lose general interest in creativity, because it almost never benefits them. Instead, it often benefits the people in power a lot.

The “all talk, no action” incarnation of organizational creativity is thus overrated, while creative employees suffer the consequences of obsessing about organizational challenges.

Is creativity overrated in your organization?

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