Why Companies Are Terrible At Spotting Creative Ideas

Fast Company:

In business, a creative idea is only worth as much as the manager who can recognize it. Malcolm Gladwell once told the story of Xerox engineer Gary Starkweather, who conceived of a laser printer circa 1970 but was forbidden to pursue it by a boss. Starkweather developed a prototype in his spare time and forced the company to transfer him so he could finish it. He basically begged Xerox to let him work on an idea it should have been begging him to work on.

That story ended just fine for Xerox, but no doubt many other creative ideas stall in the conception phase for lack of encouragement. Truth is many managers face what might be called a creativity dilemma: their desire for novel ideas and creative workers is at odds with their need to provide practical order. The result of this dilemma, in many cases, is that an aversion to novelty rules the day.

Management scholar Jennifer Mueller of the University of San Diego has studied the failures of creative assessment and found hidden cognitive factors at its core. “There are situational variables that are very subtle and transitory that can shift your ability to determine what’s creative,” Mueller tells Co.Design. These seemingly random factors–such as a manager’s mindset during an idea pitch–can bias people against creativity without them knowing it.

Read the whole story: Fast Company

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