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Ten Great Ways to Crush Creativity

Ten Great Ways to Crush Creativity

Ten Great Ways to Crush Creativity

    Leaders have more power than they realize. They can patiently create a climate of creativity or they can crush it in a series of subtle comments and gestures. Their actions send powerful signals. Their responses to suggestions and ideas are deciphered by staff as encouragement or rejection. If you want to crush creativity in your organization and eliminate all the unnecessary bother of innovation then here are ten steps that are guaranteed to succeed.

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    1. Criticize

    When you hear a new idea criticize it. Show how smart you are by pointing out some of the weaknesses and flaws which will hold it back. The more experienced you are, the easier it is to find fault with other people’s ideas. Decca Records turned down the Beatles, IBM rejected the photocopying idea which launched Xerox, DEC turned down the spreadsheet and various major publishers turned down the first Harry Potter novel. The same thing is happening in most organizations today. New ideas tend to be partly-formed so it is easy to reject them as ‘bad’. They diverge from the narrow focus that we have for the business so we discard them. Furthermore, every time somebody comes to you with an idea which you criticize, it discourages the person from wasting your time with more suggestions. It sends a message that new ideas are not welcome and that anyone who volunteers them is risking criticism or ridicule. This is a sure fire way to crush the creative spirit in your staff.

    2. Ban brainstorms

    Treat brainstorming as old-fashioned and passé. All that brainstorms do is throw up lots of new ideas that then have to be rejected. If your organization is not holding frequent brainstorm sessions to find creative solutions then you are not wasting time on new ideas. Instead you are sending a message to staff that their input is not required. If people insist on brainstorm meetings then make them long, rambling and unfocused with lots of criticism of radical ideas.

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    3. Hoard problems

    The CEO and senior team should shoulder the responsibility for solving all the company’s major problems. Strategic issues are too complicated and high-level for the ordinary staff. After all, if people at the grass-roots knew the strategic challenges the organization faces then they would feel insecure and threatened. Don’t involve staff in serious issues, don’t tell them the big picture and above all don’t challenge them to come up with solutions.

    4. Focus on efficiency not innovation

    Focus solely on making the current business model work better. If we concentrate on making the current system work better then we will not waste time on looking for different systems. The current business model is the one that you helped develop and it is obviously the best one for the business. After all, if the makers of horse drawn carriages had improved quality they could have stopped automobiles taking their markets. The same principle applied with makers of slide rules, LP records, typewriters and gas lights.

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    5. Overwork

    Establish a culture of long hours and hard work. Encourage the belief that hard work alone will solve the problem. We do not need to find a different way of solving a problem – rather we must just work harder at the old way of doing things. Make sure that the working day has no time for learning, fun, lateral thinking, wild ideas or testing of new initiatives.

    6. Adhere to the plan

    Plan in great detail and then do not deviate from the plan regardless of circumstances. ‘We cannot try that idea because it is not in the plan and we have no budget for it.’ Keep to the vision that was in the plan and ignore fads like market changes and customer fashions – they will pass.

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    7. Punish mistakes

    If someone tries an entrepreneurial idea that fails then blame and retribution must follow. Reward success and punish failure. That way we will reinforce the existing way of doing things and discourage dangerous experiments.

    8. Don’t look outside

    We understand our business better than outsiders. After all we have been working in it for years. Other industries are fundamentally different and just because something works there does not mean it will work here. Consultants are generally over-priced and tell you things you could have figured out anyway. We need to find the solutions inside the business by working harder.

    9. Promote people like you from within

    Promoting from within is a good sign. It helps retain people and they can see a reward for loyalty and hard work. It means we don’t get polluted with heretical ideas from outside. Also if the CEO promotes people like him then he can achieve consistency and succession. It is best to find managers who agree with the CEO and praise him for his acumen and foresight.

    10. Don’t waste money on training

    Talent cannot be taught. It is it a rare thing possessed by a handful of gifted individuals. So why waste money trying to turn ducks into swans? Hire our kind of people and let them learn our system. Work them hard, keep them focused on our business model and do not allow them to fool around with crazy experiments. Workshops, budgets and time allocated to creativity and innovation are all wasteful extravagances. We know what we need to succeed so let’s just get on with it.

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    Paul Sloane

    Professional Keynote Speaker, Author, Innovation Expert

    Face Adversity with a Smile How to Win an Argument – Dos, Don’ts and Sneaky Tactics How to Get Rich: 11 Bold Moves That Guarantee Wealth How to be a Brilliant Conversationalist Think Laterally

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    Last Updated on March 31, 2020

    Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

    Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

    Procrastination is very literally the opposite of productivity. To produce something is to pull it forward, while to procrastinate is to push it forward — to tomorrow, to next week, or ultimately to never.

    Procrastination fills us with shame — we curse ourselves for our laziness, our inability to focus on the task at hand, our tendency to be easily led into easier and more immediate gratifications. And with good reason: for the most part, time spent procrastinating is time spent not doing things that are, in some way or other, important to us.

    There is a positive side to procrastination, but it’s important not to confuse procrastination at its best with everyday garden-variety procrastination.

    Sometimes — sometimes! — procrastination gives us the time we need to sort through a thorny issue or to generate ideas. In those rare instances, we should embrace procrastination — even as we push it away the rest of the time.

    Why We Procrastinate After All?

    We procrastinate for a number of reasons, some better than others. One reason we procrastinate is that, while we know what we want to do, we need time to let the ideas “ferment” before we are ready to sit down and put them into action.

    Some might call this “creative faffing”; I call it, following copywriter Ray Del Savio’s lead, “concepting”.[1]

    Whatever you choose to call it, it’s the time spent dreaming up what you want to say or do, weighing ideas in your mind, following false leads and tearing off on mental wild goose chases, and generally thinking things through.

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    To the outside observer, concepting looks like… well, like nothing much at all. Maybe you’re leaning back in your chair, feet up, staring at the wall or ceiling, or laying in bed apparently dozing, or looking out over the skyline or feeding pigeons in the park or fiddling with the Japanese vinyl toys that stand watch over your desk.

    If ideas are the lifeblood of your work, you have to make time for concepting, and you have to overcome the sensation— often overpowering in our work-obsessed culture — that faffing, however creative, is not work.

    Is Procrastination Bad?

    Yes it is.

    Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re “concepting” when in fact you’re just not sure what you’re supposed to be doing.

    Spending an hour staring at the wall while thinking up the perfect tagline for a marketing campaign is creative faffing; staring at the wall for an hour because you don’t know how to come up with a tagline, or don’t know the product you’re marketing well enough to come up with one, is just wasting time.

    Lack of definition is perhaps the biggest friend of your procrastination demons. When we’re not sure what to do — whether because we haven’t planned thoroughly enough, we haven’t specified the scope of what we hope to accomplish in the immediate present, or we lack important information, skills, or resources to get the job done.

    It’s easy to get distracted or to trick ourselves into spinning our wheels doing nothing. It takes our mind off the uncomfortable sensation of failing to make progress on something important.

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    The answer to this is in planning and scheduling. Rather than giving yourself an unspecified length of time to perform an unspecified task (“Let’s see, I guess I’ll work on that spreadsheet for a while”) give yourself a limited amount of time to work on a clearly defined task (“Now I’ll enter the figures from last months sales report into the spreadsheet for an hour”).

    Giving yourself a deadline, even an artificial one, helps build a sense of urgency and also offers the promise of time to “screw around” later, once more important things are done.

    For larger projects, planning plays a huge role in whether or not you’ll spend too much time procrastinating to reach the end reasonably quickly.

    A good plan not only lists the steps you have to take to reach the end, but takes into account the resources, knowledge and inputs from other people you’re going to need to perform those steps.

    Instead of futzing around doing nothing because you don’t have last month’s sales report, getting the report should be a step in the project.

    Otherwise, you’ll spend time cooling your heels, justifying your lack of action as necessary: you aren’t wasting time because you want to, but because you have to.

    How Bad Procrastination Can Be

    Our mind can often trick us into procrastinating, often to the point that we don’t realize we’re procrastinating at all.

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    After all, we have lots and lots of things to do; if we’re working on something, aren’t we being productive – even if the one big thing we need to work on doesn’t get done?

    One way this plays out is that we scan our to-do list, skipping over the big challenging projects in favor of the short, easy projects. At the end of the day, we feel very productive: we’ve crossed twelve things off our list!

    That big project we didn’t work on gets put onto the next day’s list, and when the same thing happens, it gets moved forward again. And again.

    Big tasks often present us with the problem above – we aren’t sure what to do exactly, so we look for other ways to occupy ourselves.

    In many cases too, big tasks aren’t really tasks at all; they’re aggregates of many smaller tasks. If something’s sitting on your list for a long time, each day getting skipped over in favor of more immediately doable tasks, it’s probably not very well thought out.

    You’re actively resisting it because you don’t really know what it is. Try to break it down into a set of small tasks, something more like the tasks you are doing in place of the one big task you aren’t doing.

    More consequences of procrastination can be found in this article: 8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life

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    Procrastination, a Technical Failure

    Procrastination is, more often than not, a sign of a technical failure, not a moral failure.

    It’s not because we’re bad people that we procrastinate. Most times, procrastination serves as a symptom of something more fundamentally wrong with the tasks we’ve set ourselves.

    It’s important to keep an eye on our procrastinating tendencies, to ask ourselves whenever we notice ourselves pushing things forward what it is about the task we’ve set ourselves that simply isn’t working for us.

    Learn more about how to fix your procrastination problem here: What Is Procrastination and How to Stop It (The Complete Guide)

    Featured photo credit: chuttersnap via unsplash.com

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