How Creativity can be a Problem in Business

So here’s a shocking notion: creativity isn’t infallible. Controversial, we know. These days, creative thinkers are regarded as golden gooses laying eggs of never-before-conceived concepts and incisively innovative ideas. They illuminate the way ahead, trump the banality of the non-creative and are the harbingers of colour and vision in an otherwise grey and desultory world.

But whilst creativity is a popular guest at any party, it can also be a little awkward. Creative thinkers don’t always fit the paradigm; they’re not always the perfect colleagues or team players, and they rarely settle for ‘as is’. In different contexts, almost every positive of creativity can flipflop to a negative. Here are four ways creativity can be a problem in business:

1. When change is desired, but not needed.

It’s part of the creative’s ethos to play with new solutions, dream up alternative routes. But problems occur when new solutions are advocated just to strike against the monotony of routine, which is the bane of any creative spirit. The reality is that most businesses exist in a state of monotony with periodic peaks of excitement and activity. Solutions are great if they introduce new efficiency, but change for change’s sake is one of the unfortunate side effects of a creative’s earnest attempts to throw flavour into the grind.

2. When it’s untrained.

Everyone wants to be considered a creative. What was once merely dubbed an ‘out-of-the-box’ thinker is an innovator, a creative, a game changer, money maker. But puddles of creative juices cannot be stirred into full-blown waterfalls at the drop of a hat. This mirrors the point about efficiency: imagining a solution different to the current solution is something most people can do. Imagining a solution that’s better, more effective and not wildly ludicrous isn’t. We’ve all encountered the scenario of a manager espousing a revelatory idea, much to the horror of a positively anxious and doubtful workforce.

3.  When it leads to decision paralysis.

Creative thinkers are seldom content with the status quo. They’re usually cajoling with the future – imagining change, formulating new edges. That’s the beauty and curse of creativity. An individual that flirts with different tomorrows will be hard pushed to pursue just one. Decision paralysis is common in creative individuals; when there’s endless ‘what about…’ and ‘how about…’ thoughts being juggled, the ideal solution sometimes falls further away.

4. When you’re unable to adhere to the grind.

A creative mind isn’t a prerequisite to success. It can help, but it can also hinder. It’s the non-creatives that will turn up each day to a 9 to 5 without complaint or dissatisfaction. A creative mind isn’t a still mind – and sometimes stillness is exactly what’s required in a job role. Not every position is about dreaming up new scenarios to improve a business. Many creatives are unsuited as cogs, and cogs are necessary for a business to run.

5.  When in a team.

It’d be unfair to say that creatives aren’t good team players. The ability to function well in a team is more about personality than it is about mind and vision. Unfortunately, mind and vision sometimes infuses personality so much that there’s insurmountable individualism. Creativity is driven by and drives individuality. Typically, creative people are those that are able to contemplate outside established patterns, independent of the collective. That’s great for innovation, but bad when fixation on their vision blinds them to that of others.