How to Kill Creativity in Your Agency (2022)

How to Kill Creativity in Your Agency (1)

"Creativity can solve almost any problem. The creative act, the defeat of habit by originality, overcomes everything."

This quote from George Lois, the legendary ad manwho creatediconic work for Xero and MTV andsome of the most iconic Esquire covers, sums up why brands hire agencies. They want to tap into a group of individuals who can solve business problems with creative ideas.

(Video) Do schools kill creativity? | Sir Ken Robinson

And agencies need to be able to depend on their staff to generate these ideas -- day after day, month after month. Without this, there's not much future for their firm.

But while many firms would like to think they are fostering innovation and ideas, instead they have structures, practices, and leaders who create an environment that is actually hostile to creative output.

Without even realizing it, they aresmothering the creative flame that attracts their clients.Here's how:

9Ways to KillCreativity in Your Agency

1) Discourage Creative Disputes

Healthy creative disagreements can actually generate more original ideas according to a study that found social conflict increases the number of viewpoints and perspectives from a group.

Charlan Nemeth of UC Berkeley analyzed companies such as Pixar and found that conflict is essential to the ideation process, stating that the absence of conflict can mean that a team lacks ideas and is homogenous in thought. Healthy debate in companies -- and encouragement of this through practices at companies such as Pixar where morning meetings consist of criticizing the previous day’s work -- was shown to increase idea production by 25%. However, arguing just to argue isn’t productive. Pixar’s critique process -- also known as “shredding” -- requires that a critiqueincludes at least one way to make the project better, creating a tone of positivity where the end goal is improvement,not a public lashing.

2) Rely on Group Brainstorming

It typically goes like this: You win a new project and client -- one you really, really wanted. The agency CEO and high-level stakeholders call an “all hands on deck” brainstorming meeting. The result? A mess of people in a room where only a handful of individuals speak while the rest of the team catches up on client emails and browses BuzzFeed.

Brainstorming meetings can work, but you need a structure for making them productive. One strategy that has been shown to be more effective is brainstorming done using an online messaging app, such as Slack or HipChat. A study found that when ideas can been seen by the entire team and they can consume these in a low effort way and respond, it produces more unique ideas.

3) Establish Consequences for Mistakes

For your team to tap into their creative mindset, they have to know that it is OK to make mistakes. It’s even encouraged. This isn’t to say that you should bring all 15 drafts of ad to the client for review. However, the pursuit of perfection is in opposition to creative output.

(Video) How to kill creativity | Lars Tvede | TEDxKEA

InTrust the Process: An Artist’s Guide to Letting Go, Shaun McNiff wrote:“When asked for advice on painting, Claude Monet told people not to fear mistakes. The discipline of art requires constant experimentation, wherein errors are harbingers of original ideas because they introduce new directions for expression. The mistake is outside the intended course of action, and it may present something that we never saw before, something unexpected and contradictory, something that may be put to use.”

This can be especially dangerous now as agencies want to rely on what is known to work to reduce risk of losing the relationship. Create aprocess for experimentation and testing to show the client that the final approach is the right one.

4) Tease More Moneyas Motivation

Teresa Amabile, who has studied creativity-killers and wrote a seminal piece on the subject inHarvard Business Review, wrote, “The most common extrinsic motivator managers use is money, which doesn’t necessarily stop people from being creative. But in many situations, it doesn’t help either, especially when it leads people to feel that they are being bribed or controlled.”

Money doesn’t make people interested in and driven to solving problems. It may force someone to get the job done -- and even perform above standards -- but it fails to increase intrinsic motivation, which Amabile found is the key to increasing creativity.

This intrinsic motivation is also related to grit, which is used to describe passion and perseverance and has been shown to be an indicator of future success.

5) Promote Micromanagers

Managers and directors who lack the ability to delegate or allow team members to find an independent path to a solution can inhibit creative output.

First of all, a micromanager can cause employees to become disengaged as they feel they have no ownership over the process or the end result. It also prevents people from gaining experience and confidence in a role.

While oftentimes, the controlling manager is simply trying to improve efficiency and get things accomplished in the “right” way, the result is a dispassionate team who feel stifled and bored.

(Video) How money kills creativity | Jens-Uwe Meyer | TEDxUniversityofNicosia

This can also apply to implementing processes so strict they leave little room for interpretation. Consider this: In 2000, the newly appointed CEO of 3M (the creator of Post-It Notes and masking tape) implemented a management technique known as Six Sigma that would “decrease production defects and increase efficiency.” This worked well in reducing manufacturing errors, but the company’s percentage of sales from new products slipped to one-quarter from one-third in the next five years. New products were restricted to those whose profit viability was a known quantity. And the process-focused approach to producing products and ideation broke down the culture of innovation the company was once known for.

6) Constantly Change the Goal

So you don’t want to limit a person’s autonomy through micromanagement, but you obviously still need your team members to produce work that the client will love. To allow people to be creative with the route they take, you need to give them a destination -- or a goal.

John Irving, the author of Cider House Rules, The World According to Garp, and 12 other novels, is famous for knowing for creating highly detailed outlines of his book and writing the ending before he starts the novel. He told NPR: "I always know where it's going. I'm writing toward a sentence, usually to much more than a sentence, to many paragraphs, close to a last chapter -- it's like a piece of music that you're writing toward: This is how it sounds when I get to the end. Because I wouldn't know how I'm supposed to sound at the beginning unless I knew how I was going to sound when I got there."

Knowing the end gives purpose to everything else you create. Before a project ever starts, your team needs to have a clear understanding of what the goal is and what pain point the completed work should solve.

You should also prevent this from changing -- if possible. A constantly evolving end result only causes confusion and frustration. It also leads to an inferior end product as most people will simply adjust the existing work to fit ca changing goal, rather than start over with a unique approach for the problem.

7) Hire Similar People

At the ANA Conference in fall of 2015, PepsiCo’s Brad Jakeman said, "Innovation and disruption does not come from homogeneous groups of people."

The lack of diversity of race, background, and culture has become a growing issue for agencies as brand execs become more concerned with the fact that the people producing their advertising and marketing work do not reflect a diverse audience.

This lack of diversity is also problematic from a creative standpoint. Teams made up of individuals with unique perspectives and experiences and knowledge are more likely to challenge one another. It is less likely that teams of people who look alike and think alike and grew up in similar ways will change someone else’s perspective or be able to cause someone else to reconsider their view of a problem or solution.

(Video) How Corporations Kill Creativity (and Why Corporate Innovation Labs Fail)

As Amabile wrote in Harvard Business Review, “Because when teams comprise people with various intellectual foundations and approaches to work -- that is, different expertise and creative thinking styles -- ideas often combine and combust in exciting and useful ways."

8) Rush the Process

Deadlines and restrictions on the creative process are necessary. But rushing a project because of a lack of communication or not building in enough time for creative incubation from the beginning will only result in mediocre work.

There needs to be some buffer for mulling over a problem and possible solution -- time for even forgetting about the issue and then returning to it with a fresh perspective. Time for inspiration to strike -- if you believe in that -- or time to just sit down and struggle through the problem. Without time, a person simply relies on going through the motions of doing the work.

9) Force Creative Output

Putting constant pressure and emphasis on the need of your team to produce more and more creative ideas doesn’t foster ideation, either. In fact, when people are under more stress to produce creative ideas, the part of their brain that reduces creativity-- the part responsible for planning and organization -- is activated.

Allan Reiss, one of the authors of the study, wrote, “Sometimes a deliberate attempt to be creative may not be the best way to optimize your creativity.”

Originally published Mar 21, 2016 9:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017

FAQs

How do you kill creativity in the workplace? ›

The two main resources that affect creativity are time and money. Managers need to allot these resources carefully. Like matching people with the right assignments, deciding how much time and money to give to a team or project is a sophisticated judgment call that can either support or kill creativity.

How do you destroy creativity? ›

To live a creative life, you must be able to destroy your habits that are killing your creativity.
  1. Premature judgment. ...
  2. Lack of courage. ...
  3. Avoidance of failure. ...
  4. Comparing yourself with others. ...
  5. Discomfort with uncertainty. ...
  6. Taking criticism personally. ...
  7. Lack of confidence. ...
  8. Analysis paralysis.
20 May 2016

What are some creativity killers? ›

5 Common Creativity Killers
  • Role Mismatch. ...
  • External End-Goal Restriction. ...
  • Strict Ration of Resources. ...
  • Lack of Social Diversity. ...
  • Discouragement/No Positive Feedback.
13 Aug 2014

Does efficiency kill creativity? ›

Unfortunately, an over-emphasis on efficiency tends to kill creativity. In fact, you'll get better, more creative results if you focus less on efficiency.

What are the 5 components of creativity? ›

Guilford (1959) identified five key elements of creativity: fluency, flexibility, originality, awareness, and drive. Understanding these elements removes some of the mystery surrounding creativity and paves the way for encouraging its growth.

What are the 4 components of creativity? ›

Paul Torrance's work in Creativity. Torrance, the “Father of Creativity” talked about four elements to creativity: Fluency (# of ideas), Flexibility (variety of ideas), Originality (uniqueness of ideas), and Elaboration (details of ideas).

What are the 5 barriers to creativity? ›

Here are a handful of barriers to creativity we've identified, and a few tips and tricks you can use to avoid them.
  • Lack of Autonomy. Autonomy can be a polarizing term. ...
  • Unclear Direction. One of the most frustrating barriers to creativity is unclear direction. ...
  • Fear. ...
  • Inadequate Resources. ...
  • Functional Fixedness.
29 Oct 2019

What prevents creative thinking? ›

Rigid Thinking

Among significant barriers to creative thinking is rigidity or having a fixed mindset. Preconceived ideas impair the ability to think in an unconventional way or come up with out-of-the-box solutions. Another problem that can arise is when we start to think about the idea in terms of its source.

What factors affect creativity? ›

Creativity can be based on some factors such as learning, experience, motivation, imagination, intelligence, flexibility and personality. These factors may affect human creativity and most of the creative acts are unexpected.

What are the characteristics of creative person? ›

12 common characteristics of creative people
  • Curious. Creative people enjoy learning new things, so their free time may include reading books or watching videos about topics they find interesting. ...
  • Playful. ...
  • Open-minded. ...
  • Flexible. ...
  • Sensitive. ...
  • Independent. ...
  • Risk-taking. ...
  • Intuitive.

What are the 5 factors that may limit or stifle creativity in early childhood settings? ›

5 Ways to Stifle Your Child's Creativity
  • Not Letting Your Children Get Bored. We live in a time when there are many toys and new tech gadgets. ...
  • Discouraging Children from Asking Questions. Children ask questions. ...
  • Not Maximizing Screen Time. ...
  • Discouraging Creative Ideas. ...
  • Not Giving Children the Chance to Choose.
19 Feb 2019

Why is creativity necessary in art making? ›

It allows recognition of uniqueness and identity. It can help draw out what is already there within – hidden talents and inner capacities can emerge. It connects us with our passions. Creative participation nurtures a sense of togetherness.

Does structure kill creativity? ›

An overly-structured day can be a creativity killer. While structure can help with linear thinking, reducing your distractions can be counterproductive in cultivating creativity. Creative people actually are more prone to distraction due to a reduced filter of outside stimuli.

Do deadlines destroy creativity? ›

Creativity needs time, it is impossible to put out creative ideas when put on a time limit. The constant reminder of deadlines makes it difficult to think freely and experiment with new ideas. This in turn limits creativity, as people start looking for quicker ways to finish tasks. This also lowers the quality of work.

Can you lose creativity? ›

Everyone has the ability to create their day, a lie, or even a simple thought. Being creative is as simple as that. You can't lose your creativity, but you can lose your inspiration. That's why we think some people are more creative than others.

What causes creative block? ›

One of the most common reasons for creative block is the fear of imperfection, feeling like you are not good enough to see an idea through. Many creatives consider themselves perfectionists, which can prevent the pursuing of ideas or completing projects. The reality is that nothing and no one is perfect.

Which is the number one killer of creativity in anything that you do? ›

Your ego is the biggest killer of creativity. The struggle tends to become an issue for people in the middle and later years of their career.

How does pressure affect creativity? ›

In the daily diary form, participants were asked to rate the time pres- sure they felt on a scale of one to seven, with seven being the highest level of pressure. On the days rated a seven, people were 45% less likely to think creatively than they were on any of the lower-pressure days.

What is Big C in creativity? ›

Big C is the sort of creativity reflected in world-changing achievements, like artistic masterpieces or scientific breakthroughs. The works of Picasso, the breakthroughs of Einstein and the stories of Terry Pratchett could all be seen as examples of that Big C.

What are the 2 main components of creativity? ›

Creativity is sometimes broken up into divergent thinking and convergent thinking; though I argue that essentially the same processes are involved in both. Divergent thinking is measured using the Torrance test of creative thinking (TTCT).

What is the most important element of creativity? ›

The first and the foremost element of creativity is willingness to do something new. No one can teach or force you to become creative. An artist sees various shapes and colours even in a crumpled ball of paper thrown in the dustbin.

What are the three creativity tests? ›

Creativity tests are typically divided into four main components: Divergent thinking, Convergent thinking, Artistic assessments and Self assessments. Divergent thinking is the ability to consciously generate new ideas that branch out to many possible solutions for a given problem.

How do creative thinkers think? ›

Creative thinking is a skill which lets you consider things from a fresh perspective and different angles. It's an inventive thought process which results in surprising conclusions and new ways of doing things. Creative thinking can be aided by brainstorming or lateral thinking to generate ideas.

What are barriers to creativity at work? ›

Clearly, there are some roadblocks standing in the way of companies fully harnessing creativity from their workers.
  • Roadblock #1 – Lack of Employee Engagement.
  • Roadblock #2 – Lack of Purpose.
  • Roadblock #3 – Lack of Weak Ties.
  • Roadblock #4 – Lack of Psychological Safety.
  • Roadblock #5 – Lack of Creative Space.
18 Nov 2021

How can barriers to creativity be overcome? ›

Tactics to remove barriers
  1. Tactic 1: Challenge your biases and preconceptions. A bias is an inclination towards one way of thinking. ...
  2. Tactic 2: Use different thought processes to generate ideas and solutions. ...
  3. Tactic 3: Avoid. ...
  4. Tactic 4: Change your daily routine. ...
  5. Tactic 5: Take creative risks.

What are the disadvantages of creativity? ›

Being creative takes us into the realm of imagination and exploration, and that means our minds aren't always in balance. And that's on purpose. During the creative process, our minds can become unstable or negative, which can be very difficult. Creative thinking is associated with mood swings and depression.

What are the mental barriers to creative thinking? ›

This in itself is a psychological barrier. There are a number of psychological barriers which get in the way of the analytical and creative managers. The more important are: Self-imposed barriers; Patterns, or one unique answer; Conformity; Not challenging the obvious; Evaluating too quickly; Fear of looking a fool.

What are cultural barriers to creativity? ›

The last and often the biggest cultural barrier to creativity in organizations is stereotyping. A recent survey showed that 80% of American and British workers feel pressured to be productive rather than creative by their organizations.

What are the types of creativity? ›

There are 4 types of creativity: deliberate, cognitive; deliberate, emotional; spontaneous, cognitive; and spontaneous, emotional (Dietrich 2004).

What activities promote creativity? ›

Here are ten tried and tested activities for charging up your creativity:
  • Take A Class. Learning something new is like giving your brain a vitamin boost. ...
  • Keep a Journal. ...
  • Use Your Commute. ...
  • Challenge Your Body. ...
  • Meditate. ...
  • Go to sleep. ...
  • Meet Someone New. ...
  • Organise Your Space.
13 Sept 2019

Can creativity be improved? ›

While a good mood is the starting point for heightened creativity, a daily gratitude practice, a daily mindfulness practice, regular exercise and a good night's rest remain the best recipe that anyone has yet found for increasing happiness.

Are creative people smart? ›

Studies have shown that highly creative people are highly intelligent but highly intelligent people are not always creative. The fact that highly creative people have a higher correlation with intelligence than vice versa suggests creativity is simply a higher form of intelligence.

What is a highly creative person? ›

Highly creative individuals may:

Display a great deal of curiosity about many things; are constantly asking questions about anything and everything; may have broad interests in many unrelated areas. May devise collections based on unusual things and interests. 2.

How do you foster imagination? ›

Here are 10 of our favorite tips from the experts!
  1. Read, Talk, and Tell Stories. ...
  2. Unstructured Time, Unstructured Play. ...
  3. Offer Open-Ended Materials, Toys, and Activities. ...
  4. Turn Off the Screen. ...
  5. Go Outside and Wander like Wordsworth. ...
  6. Let Kids Figure Things Out for Themselves. ...
  7. Model Creativity and Imaginative Thinking.
9 Dec 2020

What factors might limit children's creativity? ›

More blockages and barriers come from:
  • Stress. Stress is not only a distraction which drains the energy we might channel into being creative, it is also very bad for our heath and concentration.
  • Chaotic environments. ...
  • Restrictive routines/boredom and monotony. ...
  • Beliefs. ...
  • Fear. ...
  • Self-criticism. ...
  • Ego. ...
  • Negative people.

Why is creativity important for cognitive development? ›

Cognitive Development

Creativity can lead to curiosity which can lead to your child learning more about different things that interest them. Your child will be able to develop math skills, reading skills, thinking skills, and many other cognitive skills.

What is the value of creativity? ›

So many studies have come to show that creativity is a crucial part of a child's development. It teaches them divergent thinking and how to be better problem solvers. It aids in developing physical dexterity and social skills (as they navigate how to play games with other children).

Why is creativity important in the workplace? ›

Creativity Increases Problem-Solving

With the ability to think creatively and outside of the box, employees are more likely to come up with unique and innovative solutions to obstacles they encounter. This eagerness to solve problems can lead to new ways to accomplish tasks and adds to a more efficiently run business.

How do managers kill creativity at the workplace? ›

Providing no support. Even good ideas don't always work out and employees shouldn't be punished for their creativity, even if a given idea fails. The quickest way to destroy creativity is to rub these kinds of failures in the faces of employees, and to remind them of mistakes on future projects.

How do you measure creativity in the workplace? ›

Measuring four dimensions of Creativity in the Workplace
  1. Fluency: how many responses a person, team or process can generate.
  2. Flexibility: how many different types/categories of responses are generated.
  3. Originality: how different are the responses from the norm.
  4. Elaboration: how detailed are the responses.

What are the six components of the creative process? ›

The six components of creativity – and how to make your organisation an innovation engine. Knowledge, imagination, attitude, resources, habitat, and culture are the key factors for entrepreneurial success.

What are the disadvantages of deadlines? ›

Possible disadvantages of setting deadlines:
  • Stress. Fear of not coping with the task on time, panic because the date of passing the project is coming on, insomnia, fatigue... ...
  • Deterioration of work quality. If there is an objective lack of time to complete the task, the quality of the final results suffers.
14 Feb 2020

Can creativity and discipline go hand in hand Gd? ›

Discipline, on the other hand, is a matter of learning rules and applying them; it requires effort and practice. Discipline without creativity leads to rote memorization; creativity without discipline leads to distraction and chaos. They're two sides to the same coin: you need both to realize your full potential.

Why is setting deadlines important? ›

Deadlines help us to collaborate toward achieving a shared goal, and to keep complex, multistage projects on track. To set expectations. Deadlines make clear what we're expected to deliver and when. This means that we can take control of our work, free of confusion.

What is creative burnout? ›

Creative burnout is the feeling that you've drained all of your creativity, and there is nothing left. If you're dreading to start work, feel tired and stressed all the time and suspect you'll never be able to create something good ever again, you might be experiencing a creative burnout.

Is creativity a skill or a talent? ›

Creativity is a skill that can be learned, refined, and improved. It's not something you either have or don't have – it's like any other skill in life: The more you practice it, the better you get at it. The key to creativity is figuring out what works for you- finding your own process and then mastering it.

How is creativity stifled? ›

Being overwhelmed by information

But just as you can overeat, you can also overthink, and that's a recipe for stifled creativity. Every successful person I've ever met has the ability to know when to stop collecting information and start taking action. They learn how to write articles fast.

Can you lose creativity? ›

Everyone has the ability to create their day, a lie, or even a simple thought. Being creative is as simple as that. You can't lose your creativity, but you can lose your inspiration. That's why we think some people are more creative than others.

Does competition destroy creativity? ›

Yes, competition kills creativity if it's a destructive, winner-takes-all form of competition; if ideas are hoarded so that their owner gets sole credit; if communication stops because others are viewed as “the enemy”. But the most innovative companies, in fact, foster a form of collaborative competition.

Do deadlines destroy creativity? ›

Creativity needs time, it is impossible to put out creative ideas when put on a time limit. The constant reminder of deadlines makes it difficult to think freely and experiment with new ideas. This in turn limits creativity, as people start looking for quicker ways to finish tasks. This also lowers the quality of work.

How do you measure creativity in the workplace? ›

Measuring four dimensions of Creativity in the Workplace
  1. Fluency: how many responses a person, team or process can generate.
  2. Flexibility: how many different types/categories of responses are generated.
  3. Originality: how different are the responses from the norm.
  4. Elaboration: how detailed are the responses.

What is creative burnout? ›

Creative burnout is the feeling that you've drained all of your creativity, and there is nothing left. If you're dreading to start work, feel tired and stressed all the time and suspect you'll never be able to create something good ever again, you might be experiencing a creative burnout.

Is creativity a skill or a talent? ›

Creativity is a skill that can be learned, refined, and improved. It's not something you either have or don't have – it's like any other skill in life: The more you practice it, the better you get at it. The key to creativity is figuring out what works for you- finding your own process and then mastering it.

What causes creative block? ›

One of the most common reasons for creative block is the fear of imperfection, feeling like you are not good enough to see an idea through. Many creatives consider themselves perfectionists, which can prevent the pursuing of ideas or completing projects. The reality is that nothing and no one is perfect.

How does competition promote creativity? ›

Researchers found that the right amount of competition — between one or two competitors — can actually spark more creative ideas. But too little or too much can hinder your progress. It makes sense. After all, there is nothing like an upstart colleague to inspire a fresh look at your work and what you might improve.

What does mean creativity? ›

Creativity is defined as the tendency to generate or recognize ideas, alternatives, or possibilities that may be useful in solving problems, communicating with others, and entertaining ourselves and others.

How does pressure affect creativity? ›

In the daily diary form, participants were asked to rate the time pres- sure they felt on a scale of one to seven, with seven being the highest level of pressure. On the days rated a seven, people were 45% less likely to think creatively than they were on any of the lower-pressure days.

What are the disadvantages of deadlines? ›

Possible disadvantages of setting deadlines:
  • Stress. Fear of not coping with the task on time, panic because the date of passing the project is coming on, insomnia, fatigue... ...
  • Deterioration of work quality. If there is an objective lack of time to complete the task, the quality of the final results suffers.
14 Feb 2020

Can creativity and discipline go hand in hand Gd? ›

Discipline, on the other hand, is a matter of learning rules and applying them; it requires effort and practice. Discipline without creativity leads to rote memorization; creativity without discipline leads to distraction and chaos. They're two sides to the same coin: you need both to realize your full potential.

What does creativity look like in the workplace? ›

Creative people are emotionally invested in their work, but they should remain objective when reviewing everyone's work, including their own. This means that they are often open to constructive criticism and assess their own work fairly. They use feedback to improve their ideas and continue to learn.

What are some examples of creativity in the workplace? ›

A good example might be to open meetings with a personal or otherwise novel touch. A leader might go around the meeting and ask for a personal detail as well as a business-related development. In doing so, they send the message that they care about the employee in a broader sense than a purely revenue-related one.

What are the three 3 elements to understand the measuring of creativity? ›

Three main ways of measuring creativity have been proposed: the creativity quotient (CQ), psychometrics, and the social-personality approach.

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