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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 July 8, 2020

    3 Techniques for Setting Priorities Effectively

    3 Techniques for Setting Priorities Effectively

    It is easy, in the onrush of life, to become a reactor – to respond to everything that comes up, the moment it comes up, and give it your undivided attention until the next thing comes up.

    This is, of course, a recipe for madness. The feeling of loss of control over what you do and when is enough to drive you over the edge, and if that doesn’t get you, the wreckage of unfinished projects you leave in your wake will surely catch up with you.

    Having an inbox and processing it in a systematic way can help you gain back some of that control. But once you’ve processed out your inbox and listed all the tasks you need to get cracking on, you still have to figure out what to do the very next instant. On which of those tasks will your time best be spent, and which ones can wait?

    When we don’t set priorities, we tend to follow the path of least resistance. (And following the path of least resistance, as the late, great Utah Phillips reminded us, is what makes the river crooked!) That is, we’ll pick and sort through the things we need to do and work on the easiest ones – leaving the more difficult and less fun tasks for a “later” that, in many cases, never comes – or, worse, comes just before the action needs to be finished, throwing us into a whirlwind of activity, stress, and regret.

    This is why setting priorities is so important.

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    3 Effective Approaches to Set Priorities

    There are three basic approaches to setting priorities, each of which probably suits different kinds of personalities. The first is for procrastinators, people who put off unpleasant tasks. The second is for people who thrive on accomplishment, who need a stream of small victories to get through the day. And the third is for the more analytic types, who need to know that they’re working on the objectively most important thing possible at this moment. In order, then, they are:

    1. Eat a Frog

    There’s an old saying to the effect that if you wake up in the morning and eat a live frog, you can go through the day knowing that the worst thing that can possibly happen to you that day has already passed. In other words, the day can only get better!

    Popularized in Brian Tracy’s book Eat That Frog!, the idea here is that you tackle the biggest, hardest, and least appealing task first thing every day, so you can move through the rest of the day knowing that the worst has already passed.

    When you’ve got a fat old frog on your plate, you’ve really got to knuckle down. Another old saying says that when you’ve got to eat a frog, don’t spend too much time looking at it! It pays to keep this in mind if you’re the kind of person that procrastinates by “planning your attack” and “psyching yourself up” for half the day. Just open wide and chomp that frog, buddy! Otherwise, you’ll almost surely talk yourself out of doing anything at all.

    2. Move Big Rocks

    Maybe you’re not a procrastinator so much as a fiddler, someone who fills her or his time fussing over little tasks. You’re busy busy busy all the time, but somehow, nothing important ever seems to get done.

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    You need the wisdom of the pickle jar. Take a pickle jar and fill it up with sand. Now try to put a handful of rocks in there. You can’t, right? There’s no room.

    If it’s important to put the rocks in the jar, you’ve got to put the rocks in first. Fill the jar with rocks, now try pouring in some pebbles. See how they roll in and fill up the available space? Now throw in a couple handfuls of gravel. Again, it slides right into the cracks. Finally, pour in some sand.

    For the metaphorically impaired, the pickle jar is all the time you have in a day. You can fill it up with meaningless little busy-work tasks, leaving no room for the big stuff, or you can do the big stuff first, then the smaller stuff, and finally fill in the spare moments with the useless stuff.

    To put it into practice, sit down tonight before you go to bed and write down the three most important tasks you have to get done tomorrow. Don’t try to fit everything you need, or think you need, to do, just the three most important ones.

    In the morning, take out your list and attack the first “Big Rock”. Work on it until it’s done or you can’t make any further progress. Then move on to the second, and then the third. Once you’ve finished them all, you can start in with the little stuff, knowing you’ve made good progress on all the big stuff. And if you don’t get to the little stuff? You’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you accomplished three big things. At the end of the day, nobody’s ever wished they’d spent more time arranging their pencil drawer instead of writing their novel, or printing mailing labels instead of landing a big client.

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    3. Covey Quadrants

    If you just can’t relax unless you absolutely know you’re working on the most important thing you could be working on at every instant, Stephen Covey’s quadrant system as written in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change might be for you.

    Covey suggests you divide a piece of paper into four sections, drawing a line across and a line from top to bottom. Into each of those quadrants, you put your tasks according to whether they are:

    1. Important and Urgent
    2. Important and Not Urgent
    3. Not Important but Urgent
    4. Not Important and Not Urgent

      The quadrant III and IV stuff is where we get bogged down in the trivial: phone calls, interruptions, meetings (QIII) and busy work, shooting the breeze, and other time wasters (QIV). Although some of this stuff might have some social value, if it interferes with your ability to do the things that are important to you, they need to go.

      Quadrant I and II are the tasks that are important to us. QI are crises, impending deadlines, and other work that needs to be done right now or terrible things will happen. If you’re really on top of your time management, you can minimize Q1 tasks, but you can never eliminate them – a car accident, someone getting ill, a natural disaster, these things all demand immediate action and are rarely planned for.

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      You’d like to spend as much time as possible in Quadrant II, plugging away at tasks that are important with plenty of time to really get into them and do the best possible job. This is the stuff that the QIII and QIV stuff takes time away from, so after you’ve plotted out your tasks on the Covey quadrant grid, according to your own sense of what’s important and what isn’t, work as much as possible on items in Quadrant II (and Quadrant I tasks when they arise).

      Getting to Know You

      Spend some time trying each of these approaches on for size. It’s hard to say what might work best for any given person – what fits one like a glove will be too binding and restrictive for another, and too loose and unstructured for a third. You’ll find you also need to spend some time figuring out what makes something important to you – what goals are your actions intended to move you towards.

      In the end, setting priorities is an exercise in self-knowledge. You need to know what tasks you’ll treat as a pleasure and which ones like torture, what tasks lead to your objectives and which ones lead you astray or, at best, have you spinning your wheels and going nowhere.

      These three are the best-known and most time-tested strategies out there, but maybe you’ve got a different idea you’d like to share? Tell us how you set your priorities in the comments.

      More Tips for Effective Prioritization

      Featured photo credit: Mille Sanders via unsplash.com

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