I often hear that creative ideas are a dime a dozen and that people with good ideas tend to be irresponsible and lack follow-through. Generally I smile and accede to the talker that yes follow-through is important. So it was serendipitous that an article from the 1963 Harvard Business Journal titled Creativity Is Not Enough came across my desk shortly after I heard yet again that anyone can come up with creative ideas.
Personally I’ve never met anyone who thought that creativity was all that was required for success but if I am to believe the author of this article Theodore Levitt ( yes I know), many people within the structures of corporations do in fact believe this.
Levitt takes pains to paint the creative person within organizations as a malcontent and whiner while painting the executive ultimately responsible as having too much to do and having very good reasons for not listening to the flow of good ideas ( survival and self interest). Oh sure this was written in 1963 but if you look around many organizations are still adverse to creative thinking. Levitt’s main point in Creativity Is Not Enough comes down to this, creative thinkers don’t understand the how things in an organization are done. Wow is all I can say to that.
I rather like the term malcontent that’s used in this piece and I agree that the creative malcontents within an organization need to include at least minimal cost estimates side by side with their brilliant new ideas. But the real change that any organization needs to make is to foster a culture that is not afraid of change and innovation. Even a small company can have a mechanism in place to help evaluate the costs of new ideas and fast track those ideas that promise innovation.
As much of the capital and brain power leaves the West for the East now is a perfect time to embrace the radical nature of creativity.
Lastly, the article makes mention of C. Northcote Parkinson the originator of: “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”. Thought I would share that.
read more about: Theodore Levitt among his many achievements is credited with coining the term Globalization