Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Creativity Paradigm, huh?

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.


Jeanna said...

I admire you for dealing with suits on any level. I can't even stand to deal with my landlord's underlings; great examples of being creative only in the way they screw people and squeeze money out of the proletariat.
Burn down the mission baby (my new Easter slogan).
Going downtown to get a line on a Badger Claw for you, my connections have inexplicably dried up.

Unhinged said...

Well geeze, no wonder I don't fit so neatly into the Corporate world. I love being different and weird (I didn't always, let me tell you), and I resent being made to feel ashamed or to have to second-guess myself. I went through that hell enough growing up, thank you very much.

(If I sound angry, it's only because I'm shy and feeling conspicuous about my weirdness, heh.)

Let's go sing karaoke now, shall we?

jodi said...

lol, Jeanna--a Badger Claw? Now you know I've got to google that. I like your slogan. I'm gonna use it at work tomorrow. :)

Andi--do you know, on Sundays there is a four hour music set of the Beatles? But if I were going to sing karaoke with anyone, it'd be you. 'sides, I like your weirdness. Us weirdos have got to stick together.

And my word ver is fersted, which means something, only I don't know what.

Jeanna said...

I fersted the places most likely to have Badger Claws, but no luck.
Then I seconded the cheese shop downtown and picked up a few udder things, but no Badger Claws.
Is it too much to stock Badger Claws, Udder Fingers, and Cow Pies?
The Badger Claws are definitely MIA, will have to make inquiries.

jodi said...

Jeanna--do you know you're the only person out there in cyberland with a post on Badger claws (that doesn't involve actual dead animal parts)? They have an FDA warning?? And they're next to the cow pies??? *moaning* They're so white....

Kaycee James said...

Loved your blog. I so relate. I worked in banking for 13 years and have been an accountant for the last 10. Creativity (for the most part) is subtly, and not so subtly, discouraged. Most often it's just lip service.

When I reached my junior year in college, I needed exactly the same number of credits to get an English degree or an Accounting degree. Being a single mom, I went were the money was. Sometimes, I wish I had followed my heart. :-)

Jeanna said...

Do they? Did I say that? Well since I was up in Mini Sota today I dragged the boys to Boo (even made them pose outside the Cow Pie place) on the way back, strode in there and demanded to know what happened to all the Claws.
Man, I checked the mail box where I tossed your package again and I think I was over the weight limit. The box I mean; me, yes, without question.
THANKS, sista.
Got your package, that was quick like a chocolate bunny and already dug into the Strawberry Hi-Chews.
Thanks, I must now send you Badger Claws.
Maybe you can tell me a bit about the other intriguing candy, will review them next week.

Alice Audrey said...

I don't do well in the corporate structure. My problem? They are always trying to promote me. It think it's because of the creativity thing. Those in the corporation who are creative are needed at the top, and a problem at the bottom. If you are like Cowboy and aren't willing to get promoted, they start to look at you funny.

My solution? Work as an independent operator for a variety of people/businesses. Lets me be creative in accounting without the time suckage of management.