Myths of Creativity

Matt Berther bio photo By Matt Berther Comment

Recently, I was pointed to an article at Fast Company that cites some research that seems to debunk six common myths of creativity.

If we look at some of these myths, we can see how they relate to the software development field. For example, its been long thought that you can increase work through time pressures or fear. However, it seems that these sorts of things usually seem to backfire for an organization.

Time pressures usually seem to produce substandard work (hacks or kludges) in order to get something out the door (either to meet market demand, or to resolve a client crisis). The cost of a hack to an organization is immense. If you dont have time to do it right now, where will you find even more time to fix it in the future?

Fear has always been a poor motivator. Implicit in fear is hesitation. Hesitation will cause uncertainty, and uncertainty causes unhappiness. As cited in the article, the most creative work will be produced by people that are consistently happy. The best ideas come the day after someone has been happy and an idea will have had time to incubate.

Competition always hinders creativity and idea sharing. No one person always has the entire idea put together, and when you can grow your ideas with the collaboration of others you experience what Stephen Covey calls synergy. True synergy in growing and evolving ideas is magical.

As a leader, if you can remove these items from your organization, I feel that you can have a much more productive and creative organization.