Late last year, in response to an article that stated that you need to stifle your creativity in order to get promoted, I argued that you needed to become a credible innovator to cut through the smoke and keep those objections at bay.
Now, new research further indicates that people are biased against creative ideas. Among the findings:
- Creative ideas are by definition novel, and novelty can trigger feelings of uncertainty that make most people uncomfortable.
- People dismiss creative ideas in favor of ideas that are purely practical — tried and true.
- Objective evidence shoring up the validity of a creative proposal does not motivate people to accept it.
- Anti-creativity bias is so subtle that people are unaware of it, which can interfere with their ability to recognize a creative idea.
Nothing new here. As I argued before, in times of accelerated change and uncertainty people will stick to the ‘tried and true’. That’s just how people work. But this research has other important implications because if there was ever a need for new ideas it is now. It also highlights how in love with ideas we are, but as much as we are in love with new and disruptive ideas, we shouldn’t forget that executing those ideas is what really matters.
This research also brings up an important point as stated by Jose Briones yesterday:
Creative thinking doesn’t start and end at the ideation stage. It’s an always-on activity. And because of that, we shouldn’t discard creative thinking for problem solving. Plans rarely work out as planned.
Jose drives the point further:
Execution matters more than the idea, but again, there’s this maniacal belief that you have to have a great idea to start with. Well, yes and no. Yes because you have to get started and no because that initial idea will most likely change as you move forward. There are countless businesses, too many to name here, that started with an initial idea that ended up becoming something else.
Markets change, people change, needs change, so you shouldn’t be surprised to see your idea take a different turn than originally planned. On top of this, if people are biased against creative ideas, you’re assuming that you’ll always encounter the same set of problems as before. It doesn’t work that way and it shouldn’t work that way. Innovation is both about solving known problems differently than before or solving problems people don’t even know they have yet.
Because businesses, just like people, adopt the same behavior towards new ideas to improve, we can make the assumption that this obstacle will always exist in the vast majority of organizations of any type.
If you look at how successful companies compete, you will find that there’s a lot of creative thinking. And no, I don’t just mean creative thinking in advertising. I mean in business processes, management, supply chain, hiring, etc. They’re places where creative thinking is encouraged, where it’s a standard.
Creative thinking isn’t the enemy, it’s the best friend you have.
What say you?