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The 5 Biggest Creativity Killers At Work

March 24, 2021, 4-min. read
The 5 biggest creativity killers at work_main

In our 'How to lose your best employees and destroy your business' series, we've already explored the best motivation killers and some guaranteed ways to murder trust. As we've pointed out before, sometimes it is surprising how tenacious some people are. Even if you apply all our previous tips, you might come across individuals who continue functioning and stick with your business. Ugh. 

So let's try a different angle today, focusing on the five biggest creativity killers. As always, let's start by mapping out what creativity is. 

Creativity is derived from the Latin word creo, meaning 'I create.' It's most often defined as the act of creating new original ideas. In practice, creativity manifests in several ways:

ORIGINALITY - I produce uncommon, original, non-existent ideas and/or thoughts

PRODUCTIVITY - I produce a large number of options and variants

INNOVATION - I am deliberately looking for something different, something other than what exists

COMBINATION - I combine existing things in a new, hitherto undiscovered way

IMAGINATION - I work with the visual side, transforming complex images and ideas into something else

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Csikszentmihalyi, a Hungarian-American psychologist, suggests that creative people possess a variety of traits, including energy, intelligence - and to a certain extent - discipline. So to hit the nail on the head, we must attack from different angles. 

Fear = originality killer

One of the biggest killers of creativity is fear. Fear of saying something silly and others laughing at me. Fear that I'll have to work hard to defend my ideas and withstand criticism. Fear of making a mistake. Fear of deviating or being different. Fear that I won't be able to endure. Fear of embarrassment. Fear that... fill in the blank. 

Fear leads us to prefer certified correct solutions. Something safe and non-conflicting, with a high degree of certainty that it will work and no one will laugh at it or scold us for it. That said, if you want to kill originality, focus your efforts on making sure that your workspace doesn't show any signs of psychological safety. 

Fear leads us to prefer certified correct solutions. Something safe and non-conflicting, with a high degree of certainty...

Tight delivery = productivity killer

In our professional lives, we're expected to deliver. Deliver the required quantity, quality, and on time. Good ideas are fine, but results count. And a result means having it done. 

To succeed, be diligent when stressing out that there's no need to produce many different ideas and thoughts or alternative solutions. All you need is one to get it crossed out. Accordingly, the need to deliver leads to the fact that we're often satisfied with the first idea or solution that leads directly to the result and we don't need to complicate life with other, alternative ideas.

Complacency = innovation killer

Why should I change something or innovate when I'm happy with the way it works now? Why change functional and well-established things? 

What will work in our way here is that we often don't even change things that aren't fully functional. We'd rather deal with the discomfort and frustration that something isn't perfect than change it. 

...when thinking about your destruction strategies, remember that instead of evolutionary changes, we often follow the path of revolution...

Change is always unpleasant at first. We prefer to accept the way it is now. And why not, after all, it's been that way for years. We only change it when there's no other option. 

So when thinking about your destruction strategies, remember that instead of evolutionary changes (improving and advancing functional ones), we often follow the path of revolution (when the cup of patience overflows, I break down and burn bridges, even though I don't really know what I want, so I'm running away from what was rather than running towards something new). 

Specialization = combination killer

With the expanding amount of information and soaring development of many disciplines, people tend to specialize more and more. Often there's no other way if an individual is to comprehend all the relevant information and be 'in.' Hence we become specialists for the left nostril and right nostril. Both such specialists are so immersed in their nostrils that over time they don't get that the nose is one whole, much less that it's also connected to the entire respiratory system and is part of a person. 

That said, make sure everyone approaches everything from the perspective of their own nostril. The more they become 'boxed' specialists, the less they're able to combine different ideas and knowledge. Done!

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Stress = imagination killer 

Imagination consists of working with images and complex ideas. Imagination is about playing with ideas and feelings, about realizing the depth and breadth of the topics. Imagination requires full concentration, peace and time. You don't get imagination on demand and under the pressure of deadlines. 

Successful strategies, therefore, include putting people under stress, point when they have to switch to emergency mode

In the interest of survival, they will drop everything unnecessary and only do the essential actions. They will become material and practical. They will not have time to play with images and ideas.

Creativity-free zone

We get it; creativity is a complex topic, and unlike killing trust & motivation, this deed will require some planning and determination. But you can take a shortcut here. Surround yourself with satisfied, non-combative, reliable, and overly practical specialists. At any cost, shy away from inquisitive, curious and unconventional carefree types, with knowledge of various regions and disciplines and time to dream. But careful here! There's a catch... 

The introduction stated that creativity is defined as the activity of creating new original ideas. In reality, though, the definition continues as follows: The creative process is characterized by two basic elements; those are originality (novelty, originality) and usefulness (value, utility). It isn't enough to be creative, but what we create should be useful. So if you really want to create a creativity-free zone, never combine both - a hard-working practitioner and an unconventional dreamer. 

If utility outweighs everything, it can be another creativity killer. And when creativity prevails, unnecessary things can arise.

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