Creativity Killers

Radio’s Top 5

I’ve never heard anyone say there is too much creativity happening inside their building.

Creation, the act of creating, is a bit mysterious. People like Steve Jobs are so rare we tend to think that all creativity is rare.

I think we, as parents, as teachers, as bosses, as an industry, make creativity harder than it would otherwise be, for these 5 reasons.

  1. Mis-casting: We put the wrong people in the role we need to fill. I see this everywhere. Talent hired because they did well at Station A are asked to be something totally different at Station B, and then we’re surprised when they fail. As Albert Einstein said, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing it is stupid.”
  2. Self-restriction can actually increase creativity but external restrictions placed upon creative people almost always inhibit creative thought. Simply saying things like, “That’s not the way we do it here,” or “Just watch and learn so you can join in faster” are subtle signals that you don’t really want to be challenged by anything drastically new.
  3. Time pressure. Everyone is doing too much. Real creative thought requires time for ideas to percolate. I don’t know how you solve this one with your current budget issues, but the idea that Group VPs or Presidents have time to actually create new ideas is absurd, and I think most CEOs know it. Creativity, if it is to come at all, will either come at the station level or from outside of your organization because your own people simply don’t have time to conceptualize all the ways around any challenging problem.
  4. The Echo Chamber. Most radio companies today don’t really want outside ideas or thoughts, and while homogeneity helps things get done faster, it is the enemy of creativity.
  5. Lack of positive feedback. I see evidence of the “What-The Hell Effect” in almost every station I visit. If you want lots of creativity on your station, reward it. Praise it publicly. Creative people want to change the world, not just do a job. That’s worth a spotlight or two.

How about you? What do you find stifles your creativity, and what would you suggest management change to fix that?