In Defense of Creativity

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I’m currently developing a keynote presentation and supplementary workshop/breakout session on creativity and innovative thinking, and a friend of mine advised me not to include the word creativity in the title because “creativity isn’t a very in concept.” To which I respond: really? REALLY?

He said I might get somewhere with “innovative thinking,” but nobody’s going to buy a program on “creativity.” Now, bear in mind that my friend isn’t an idiot. (Many of my friends are, but not this particular one.) He’s been around the block a few times, and also knows the speaking business. If he says “creativity” won’t sell, then perhaps it won’t sell. And that’s really a shame. Because what is creativity? It’s simply the process of coming up with new and better ways of doing things. Show me a business, an association, an organization anywhere on civilized earth that wouldn’t benefit when its people are taught, and empowered, to come up with new and better ways of doing things.

I was once hired to present a creative thinking workshop by a tax preparation company. (If you’re thinking, “Boy, I’m not sure I want my tax preparer to be too creative!” you can save it—I heard it a hundred times that day. Besides, “creative” is not a synonym for “illegal,” unless you’re Bernie Madoff.) Personally, I want my tax guy to be creative. I want him to have new and better ideas. I want him to see things (and by “things” I mean “deductions”) that the other guy doesn’t see. I want him to say, “You know, looking at your books gave me an idea that might save you several thousand dollars a year.” I want my tax guy to be creative. I want everybody on my team to be creative. Shouldn’t you as well?

Creativity is the way we move forward. Particularly in times of challenge and change (hey, that’s now!), when doing things the same old way is no longer a viable option, we need creative, innovative ideas—the more the better. That doesn’t mean an organization has to implement every idea that comes along just because it’s creative. But isn’t it better to have more options rather than no options?

1964 was a pretty good year for the Beatles. It’s the year they conquered America, the year they made their first movie, A Hard Day’s Night, the year they won their first Grammy (Best New Artist—beating out, among others, Astrud Gilberto, Antonio Carlos Jobim, and Morgana King; yes, the Morgana King! (No, I don’t have a clue who she is either)). The Beatles could have very easily stayed in 1964. They could have kept the same look and written the same kinds of songs. And today we might remember them the way we remember, say, Herman’s Hermits. (Yes, some of us do remember Herman’s Hermits.) But the Beatles wanted to move forward. They wanted to grow creatively. And the results show in their legacy.

“Creativity” is not a bad word; nor should it be an old-fashioned word. “Creativity” should be a word that is always “in.” Every business should want its team to be more creative; every association should want its members to be more creative. Because a full bank of creative brainpower is the best investment any organization can possibly make.


About the Author:

29-time Emmy Award winner and Hall of Fame keynote speaker Bill Stainton, CSP is an expert on Innovation, Creativity, and Breakthrough Thinking. He helps leaders and their teams come up with innovative solutions — on demand — to their most challenging problems.
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