Creativity is becoming more valued in our world today. Ironically, studies show that creative ideas are actually less embraced than ever before. The reason? The level of uncertainty that those really good creative ideas create.
A 2010 study conducted by Cornell professor Jack Goncalo shows that most management teams resist the most creative ideas because these ideas force us into uncertainty. Really creative ideas tend to be novel ideas, but novel ideas do not have history or a proven track record. In a world that relies so much on results, not having the data to support our ideas often provides management with an easy out on the most creative and novel ideas. The companies that learn to embrace the risk and take some chances fail often. But when they succeed, they do it on a major level by embracing the fear and the uncertainty in order to execute the most creative ideas available.
Because of most corporation’s need for results, they are allowed the luxury to dismiss creative ideas simply because they appear to be impractical. The problem is this: when we always play it safe and practical, we never break out of the clutter that exists in the middle – where everyone lives. It’s easy to be normal, predictable, and safe. The lie is that safe is good but, in reality, safe is the most dangerous place in the world to live. When we are safe, we are easily ignored – and being ignored is far worse than being hated or failing. Irrelevance in your community is the kiss of death.
People have a general but subtle bias against creativity. We live in a world that is quick and easily digestible. So often, we attempt to water down our art and make it easy to consume; we remove the best, most sticky, the actual creative elements from our ideas in an effort to make it work for everyone. We need to make our ideas accessible, not common.
Knowing all of this helps us as creative leaders. We are responsible for addressing the uncertainty and biases as we present, develop, and begin to execute our best creative ideas. We are responsible to find the WHY’S of our ideas. Why will it work? Why should we take the risk? Why do we need this idea? Why would we be willing to encounter the risk and what is the reward? As I said, people want to embrace creative ideas, they just get get scared…and that’s okay. Defending our best ideas is part of the hard work necessary to make amazing and creative ideas come to life – ideas that just might change our world.