Got to see this video on creativity, by Malcolm Gladwell, courtesy @malbonnington. I like what Gladwell’s saying about creativity, about the messiness about creativity.
I acknowledge the use of binary differentiations between minds and work-roles – as, on paper, “creative” and “non-creative”. Those binaries have existed across archetypes of personality and across work roles for ages now. I do find the P&G argument he makes an uncomfortable one. I guess it’s a question on what you believe it is that your business “does”.
In Gladwell’s argument, (a bad one he says, and it’s true) if you’re in charge of selling P&G soaps, it’s your job to sell that soap, and looking at any idiosyncrasies can take away from that immediate goal. But what if your job is not just to “sell” the soap; but build a larger culture, a larger house than one of numbers?
I’d argue that no matter what your profession, taking a step back, following those idiosyncrasies will make for a richer organization and a richer culture around it and its products. This is something I’ve argued about with many a client, and embracing the broader culture has worked for them, every single time.
What you do has, at any point got to be a larger than the “scope of work” document. Whether you’re writing an exam (did you cram for it and reproduce answers as expected, or did you explore ideas and try to see where they led?), or at a sales event (are you trying to sell your product at discounts, or at the very least are you empathizing with who you’re selling to, figure out why exactly he needs it, what he could AND WOULD use it for, and sell it along those lines?), if you’re on the front lines of peace-keeping, are you going to shoot first or show restraint?
Invariably, the first way is the easy way, the risk-free way of doing things. But to do things right, you have to open yourself up – embrace a certain ambiguity, risk being wrong, risk being not-what’s-needed. But what you get is authenticity in your own utility in the World. And that authenticity will translate it into much greater value – in the short term and in the long term – than the first way.