Creative or nuisance?

Johah Lehrer reports research showing that while teachers like creative pupils in theory they don’t in practice.

In fact, when they were asked to rate their students on a variety of personality measures – the list included everything from “individualistic” to “risk-seeking” to “accepting of authority” – the traits mostly closely aligned with creative thinking were also closely associated with their “least favorite” students.

I think this is repeated in adult organisations.

3 thoughts on “Creative or nuisance?

  1. Euan

    Corporations always say they want innovation. Innovation tends to happen because people are hacked off with the status quo but business doesn’t like people saying they are hacked off!

  2. Ray Poynter

    I am sure you are right, in some organisations, and some of the time.

    But I suspect that a bigger problem is the ‘spotlight effect’. We think people are watching us more than they really are. We create rules of conformity that are often much more rigid than the others around us create.

    I also suspect that in a hierarchy of conformity, the most rigid rules are the ones we create for ourselves, the next most rigid are the rules our peers create, and the least (in many cases) are the ones the management create.

    Most companies today have almost nothing in common with the top-down, rigid, suit-wearing, no beards, no drinking IBM-esque style of the 1970s.

    As a support for this view, I have to say that most of the senior people I know in commerce are individualistic, risk-seeking, and more willing to look at new ideas. On many occasions I have struggled to get a client to adopt a new idea, until I reach the senior person and he or she will then have the vision and the nerve to do something different or differently.

  3. Johnnie Moore

    Hi Ray. I agree that we humans are quite adept at inventing rules for ourselves and acting as if they’re created by others. Improv games are one way of highlighting how this can happen.

    There’s a whole conversation to be had around this business of senior people versus middle management. It’s been coming up a bit lately and maybe I should post about it. The short simplified version is that “senior” people are often unaware of the impact that their status has on others but they may actually be more responsible for the failings of middle management than many war stories suggest…


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