Tips on how to kill creativity

“Of all the things managers can do to stimulate creativity, perhaps the most efficacious is the deceptively simple task of matching people with the right assignments. Managers can match people with jobs that play to their expertise and their skills in creative thinking, and ignite intrinsic motivation.”

–          Teresa Amabile

Teresa Amabile is expert in field of creativity and innovation. She feels that within every individual, creativity is a function of three components: expertise, creative-thinking skills, and motivation.

Expertise is knowledge – technical, procedural and intellectual.

Creative thinking skills determine how flexibly and imaginatively people approach problems. Do their solutions up-end the status quo? Do they persevere through dry spells?

An inner passion to solve the problem at hand leads to solutions far more creative than external rewards, such as money. This component – called intrinsic motivation – is the one that can most immediately be influenced by the work environment.

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All manager has to do is marry creative individual with assignment that will utilise and enhance his creativity. This is not a difficult task to implement. But most of the organisations lack creativity.

How do managers  kill creativity so efficiently? A bad manager can do it “bade aram se” (easily)

Firstly, most managers are interested in getting job done, so they rarely try to see fit between individual’s expertise and requirements of job. They  simply assign available jobs to available employees to get urgent jobs done.

Secondly, creative employees need autonomy, not in deciding end but means. For this end result should be clearly defined. Many managers have no clarity about end result, they keep changing goals, also some don’t even give autonomy to subordinate to decide means to reach goal. Micromanagers are excellent in killing creativity.

Thirdly, managers have to give two necessary resources- time and money. Giving fake or impossibility tight deadlines results in burnout and kills creativity. They should not make employee run around and waste his time in getting resources allocated, budget sanctioned etc.

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Fourthly, managers should look at the composition of project team. You can kill creativity by putting together people with similar ideas (no diversity) or those readily available. Such team can reach solution quickly, as no one wants to waste time on doing hard work to come up with creative ideas and implement it.

Fifthly, bad managers are always busy, they hardly have time to listen to new ideas, evaluate them and get them implemented. They are more interested in criticising ideas then listening to them. They ensure that motivation of creative people evaporates quickly.

Lastly, an open and transparent organisation culture encourages creativity. Organisational culture, which encourages, infighting, politicking, and gossip damage creativity because they take employee’s attention away from work.

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