Myth of creativity: more reading

The 6 Myths Of Creativity, B. Bill (2012)

Teresa M. Amabile, who teaches at the Harvard Business School, investigated the domain of creativity for more than 30 years. When Amabile interviewed Fast Company in 2004, she made some important suggestions for breaking up the myth of creativity.

Creativity Comes From Creative Types

Those who work as Designers, Engineers in R&D or Artists seem to be perceived as more creative; those who choose to work as Accountants or Public Servants are perceived to belong to some boring and serious group. Is this true? We are easily trapped in these perceptions ourselves. Almost every research shows that each person with average intelligence can work creatively. This shows that we don’t have to limit ourselves in what we think, and that we should break out of the old concepts.

Money Is a Creativity Motivator

Money as a prize or a form of compensation is a common way of motivating people to attain their goals. However, in this situation, people spend time on working out how to earn more money, so they tend to evade risk. In Amabile’s research, people are valued more when the work environment supports creativity. Therefore, people can be deeply engaged in their work and be at their most creative self when they fully unleash their skill and passion.

Time Pressure Fuels Creativity

Some people believe that time pressure stimulates them to be creative. However, the opposite is true, because people can’t pay much attention to a problem if they are under time pressure. When people are under pressure, their creativity goes down and this situation can continue for about two days. Sometimes, time is not the main problem. Distractions matter too. If people can concentrate on their work, creativity is unlimited, even if they are urgently busy.

Fear Forces Breakthroughs

Some examples show that people change themselves into a creative person or someone with aspirations after they have gone through fear, sadness or depression. This is true, yet it’s not general. According to Amabile’s research, people come up with a breakthrough creative idea when they have been happy for a few days. This means that you may have a better chance of a great creative idea if you felt excited the day before.

Competition Beats Collaboration

Competition is always a good way to encourage people’s potential and stretch their skills. However, people stop sharing information with each other when there is plenty competition in a group or organization, and this may harm their creative ability. The most creative team is the one that shares the most information and communication.

A Streamlined Organization Is a Creative Organization

For companies, it’s a widespread belief that creativity results from downsizing. Surveys show the opposite outcome: employees feel fear from having an unknown future, so they are easily distracted and disengaged at work. The staff’s creativity goes down and this situation can last for five months.

From Amabile’s suggestions, we know those myths are barriers that prevent individuals and organizations from moving ahead with creativity. A friendly environment for creativity, for example, an open mind with a positive atmosphere, is necessary. The most important thing is that everyone is creative. Believe in yourself.

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Using Creative Problem Solving

National Chiao Tung University