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The 13 Most Common Myths About Creativity in Business Debunked

Creativity in business

Every business wants to be more creative. Intrinsically, we know that creativity in business is a strategic advantage. Finding new creative products, services, delivery methods, and messaging allows us set ourselves apart from the competition.

So why do we do the same things every day?

Why are still doing business the way it’s always been done?

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.” ~ Albert Einstein

Adding a touch of creativity in business can spark growth, and,at a minimum, will ignite change.  Change is good.

The problem is that creativity is such an abstract concept.

Creativity is a phenomenon whereby something new and valuable is created. ~ Wikipedia

As business people, we like the valuable part, right? 

Unfortunately, that definition does nothing to help us become more creative or inject more creativity in business. If anything, it probably makes the concept of creativity even more confusing (At least it does for me).

More Creativity in Business

In thinking about creativity and how we can find places to add creativity to our business, I came across all kinds of common myths and misconceptions about creativity. By debunking these common myths about creativity in business, we can gain a clearer vision of what creativity is and how we can use it to our advantage.

1) The Genetics Myth

Probably the most common myth about creativity is that we either ARE or ARE NOT creative based on genetics or DNA. Not true. Not true at all actually.

Creativity is very much a learned skill. According to David Goldstein, the author of Creative You, “Everyone has the capacity for creativity. But what usually happens is that their imagination gets shut down in early childhood.”

ACTION: Practice creativity just like you wood your golf swing or the piano. 

2) The Deadline Myth

“I do my best work when I’m up against a deadline.” From college term papers to your most recent presentation at work, you’ve probably felt this way at some point in your life. Unfortunately it’s not true.

You may get the most work done in the shortest amount time when a deadline is looming but that doesn’t mean you are doing your most creative work. Working under a deadline actually stifles creativity according to a study done by Teresa Amabile for the Harvard Business Review.

ACTION: Start project well before their deadline if you’d like to tap into your most creative ideas.

3) The Pressure Myth

Pressure may yield diamonds… but when it comes to creative work, too much pressure surrounding a creative project can cloud the mind limit thought.

pressure on creativity

The key is managing the pressure placed on a creative work project. Not always an easy thing to do but ultimately the path to opening our mind to creative solutions.

ACTION: Give yourself realistic goals to keep pressure at a healthy levels.

4) The Artist Myth

Most people, especially those in the business world, assume that true creativity is relegated to artists. Not true. Very not true.

You don’t have to be a painter or sculptor or photographer to view your work and your business with a creative mind. We just need to give our mind and outlet for our imagination. This may manifest itself through a blog, social media, sports, hobbies, social relationships, etc.

By viewing these activities as creative endeavors we’ll be training our mind to look at everything we do in life with a creative spin, especially our business.

ACTION: Look for creativity in outside of business and creativity will become part of your business.

5) The Creativity is Work Myth

Though creativity must be practiced as mentioned above, it cannot be forced. But filling our mind with task after task after task isn’t the solution. Creative ideas need time and space to grow in our brain.

Creativity expert, David Goldstein recommends stepping back from task driven work and engage in some sort of creative play or game. By giving ourselves a mental break from check box work we’re able to attack problems from a new, potentially more creative angle.

ACTION: Take time out of the day away from task driven work that is clogging creativity.

6) The Activity Myth

When imaging the process of creative thought many of us will picture Aristotle, sitting on the steps of a Greek library ponders life’s many mysteries with his followers. Unfortunately inactivity actually reduces our creative thought.

Activities such as watching movies, reading books, listening to music or taking in a live sports event can have an incredible impact on our creativity… if done with a purpose says Lee Crutchley, author of the Art of Getting Started. Try to look into why and/or how an author put a story together or musician built a melody.

ACTION: Look deeper into your everyday activities to find more creativity.

7) The Lightning Bolt Myth

This is probably the most common myth about creativity… that somehow we’re simply struck with a genius idea, that we’re given a gift and all we need to do is wait for ours.

Also known as the Eureka Myth, this myth about creativity in business is completely and utterly false. Research has shown again and again that creativity is actually the culmination of many small ideas and creative actions stacked on top of each other over time.

[Tweet “ACTION: Creativity is not a gift given to a select few. We have to work for it. Get to work.”]

8)  The Bubble Myth

Creativity in business doesn’t happen in a bubble. We must experience things in order to learn from them and build new experiences into our business. This myth is actually built off of the Lightning Bolt Myth… we’re not just going to be touched with an incredibly creative and amazing idea.

We must put ourselves into creative environments and allow our minds to make creative connections.

ACTION: Go where creative things are happening. Put yourself in a creative environment.

9) The Lone Ranger Myth

This is also known as the “I Own It Myth,” or the “I’m Incredibly Selfish Myth.” We don’t own the originality of an idea. Our creative ideas no matter how genius were built upon the ideas of those who came before us.

Often, when a business develops a new creative idea their next action is to rush and secure the intellectual property rights, subsequently destroying the future creative growth of that idea. Our creative ideas will never live in a vacuum nor should we want them to.

ACTION: Share your ideas and profit off their growth.

10) The Collaboration Myth

It is a very common myth, we’ll unscientifically deem it the 2nd most common myth about creativity in business, that spontaneous brainstorming sessions yield more creative solutions. There is statistically no evidence to back up this claim.

However, what these brainstorming sessions can do for adding more creativity in your business is help support a culture of idea generation. Which over time can produce more creative ideas.

[Tweet “ACTION: Support creative idea generation in a format that suits your business.”]

11) The Playtime Myth

This myth stems out of Silicon Valley where companies such as Google have basketball hoops and foosball tables in their office. There’s a belief that everyone needs to play nice in order for creativity to flourish.

Now these activities may help with building a culture of creativity but there is no scientific proof that playtime activities lead to creativity or that everyone in a business needs to get along for creativity in business.

ACTION: Focus on creating a culture of creativity that fits your business. Not games perceived to spur creativity.

12) The More Money Myth

Study after study after study has shown that there is absolutely no correlation between paying employees more money and the creative ideas they produce. Incentives, can at times spur shorts bursts of increased productivity, but over longer periods of time often only lead to let down as employees learn to game the system.

As has been said several times in this article, build a culture of supporting creative ideas to maximize results.

ACTION: Don’t pay employees to be creative.

13) The Expertise Myth

Most businesses believe that in order to find creative solutions to their problems they must hire a team of technical experts on a topic. Though expertise can help in finding a solution, studies have shown that including someone with an outside perspective can lead to insightful ideas insiders look past.

You don’t have to be an expert to participate in creative business discussions.

ACTION: Include the entire team when working towards a creative solution.

The Rub

Creativity in business can seem abstract at times, but building a culture of creativity in your business can serve as an extremely valuable strategic advantage.

How do you build creativity into your business? 

Share below…

Thank you and Good luck,

Ryan Hanley

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