I've always been a corporate person. My dad did the corporate thing growing up, and I was a corporate-kid--the civilian equivalent of a military brat. He'd go one place and the other, chasing promotions--me, my mom and brothers along with him. He used a lot of jargon and buzzwords, and maybe that's why I sound the way I do. Early childhood training.
When I started doing the retraining thing, the one thing I knew I didn't want to be was a business major. Management isn't fun. When it really came down to it--I saw the enemy and ran screaming in the other direction.
No matter what they say it's all lip-service. Creativity within a corporation is bad. A couple of years ago, I was working on the outskirts of an impromptu "visit in force", y'know--one of those things where the vice-president of the company comes through with his sycophants, and they all pretend somebody didn't call ahead so we'd do things right for the hour they were there. After the big tour, they all stood around a table, talking and making nice with the "specially chosen people who would represent the right corporate values" and the VP starts talking about this problem. And Cowboy speaks up, "I've been thinking about it, and I think if we--"
You'd have thought a zombie attacked. Everybody from the regionals to the district managers turned around to shut him up, but the VP said, "Let him talk. This company encourages creativity."
Which I knew in an objective sense. I believed in the company, just not the downward translation of dogma.
Corporations stifle creativity, not because keeping people mute and dumb is built into the operating manual, but because controlling independents is harder than herding sheep. When you hire managers according to their slavish worship of the people who put them into power, you create a downward spiral. Bad managers become insecure because people don't respect them, and that in turn creates fear of competition, and that in turn leads to a disconnect between the upper levels where creativity is encouraged and lower levels, where people are encouraged to be happy but not actually think.
I'm taking an entrepreneur and small business management class this quarter. In the first chapter, we learned the successful real-life traits of a entrepreneur--I'd always thought I was all kinds of wrong, trying to fix systems no one wanted fixed. It took years, but I had finally learned to sit down and shut up--except as Cowboy would say, for one notable incident. Out of eight traits, I hit them all.
Tonight I read the chapter on creativity. The part that struck home was the creativity paradigm. A paradigm is a preconceived idea of how the world is, what it should be like, and how it operates. If we are trained from childhood to sit down and conform it's no wonder writers get diagnosed with mental illnesses, or that an organization of writers would turn into a corporation, with all the foibles and disconnects of big business because the very thing that made it work in the first place becomes a barrier to creativity.
An organization that refuses to change becomes stagnant. Entrepreneurship--a disciplined and systemic process of applying creativity and innovation to needs and opportunities in the market.