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  1. #1
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    Default Why We Don't Like Creativity

    This is an interesting piece that I think many in the SWJ community will find of interest.

    http://www.slate.com/articles/health...?wpsrc=theweek

    Inside the Box People don’t actually like creativity.

    “We think of creative people in a heroic manner, and we celebrate them, but the thing we celebrate is the after-effect,” says Barry Staw, a researcher at the University of California–Berkeley business school who specializes in creativity.
    Even people who say they are looking for creativity react negatively to creative ideas, as demonstrated in a 2011 study from the University of Pennsylvania. Uncertainty is an inherent part of new ideas, and it’s also something that most people would do almost anything to avoid. People’s partiality toward certainty biases them against creative ideas and can interfere with their ability to even recognize creative ideas.

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    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    This one cuts both ways I think. Certainly there is some personal and institutional resistance to change. There's also some creative dilletantism that goes around, coming from self-styled creative or disruptive thinkers who in many cases do not have real mastery of what they want to disrupt, and who often have a very superficial approach. We can't expect to run an idea up a flagpole and have the surrounding masses reflexively genuflect and put our idea (and us) on a pedestal simply because we think our idea is new or creative. A certain amount of skepticism is natural and necessary, especially if an idea would require significant investment, and not all new ideas are necessarily good. It is up to the purveyor of an idea to sell it and to overcome skepticism; can't just go into a snit and accuse people of rejecting creativity because they don't jump straight onto a given bandwagon.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    This one cuts both ways I think. Certainly there is some personal and institutional resistance to change. There's also some creative dilletantism that goes around, coming from self-styled creative or disruptive thinkers who in many cases do not have real mastery of what they want to disrupt, and who often have a very superficial approach. We can't expect to run an idea up a flagpole and have the surrounding masses reflexively genuflect and put our idea (and us) on a pedestal simply because we think our idea is new or creative. A certain amount of skepticism is natural and necessary, especially if an idea would require significant investment, and not all new ideas are necessarily good. It is up to the purveyor of an idea to sell it and to overcome skepticism; can't just go into a snit and accuse people of rejecting creativity because they don't jump straight onto a given bandwagon.
    First off thank you for expanding my vocabulary, I had to look up dilletantism, and it is a very appropriate word choice.

    While I feel for the many young officers who claim their initiative and creativity is stiffled, which sometimes is true, yet more often the case is that their ideas shouldn't be adaptive due flaws in those ideas. There was a time when junior officers would propose an idea and a senior would explain why it wasn't a good idea, or if it had potential how to package it and sell it. I suspect that still happens, if it doesn't then it needs to. That is how a young officer develops over time. They shouldn't be offended if they're told their idea won't work, yet the younger generation seems overly sensitive to any criticism.

    I do agree young officers and junior officers should be given more reign to improvise at the tactical level. We have excessive micromanagement, but that isn't the same thing as stiffling creativity. Some of the ideas I see or hear put forth demonstrate a lack of understanding on how things work which sometimes is only gained after years of experience. This doesn't state or imply that systems can't be, or shouldn't be, changed, but it takes more than a "good" idea, it takes considerable amount of effort to do the homework, then develop and implement the plan to change a system and manage the second the third order effects of doing so.

    For example, I think most agree our personnel management system is far from ideal, so it is hardly creatively or innovative to state the obvious. On the other hand, coming up with a workable change to the system that can actually be implemented would be a God send.

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Those who embrace creativity are there

    There are communities of interest that do embrace creativity, although they maybe rare here - criminals.

    "Blood & brawn" may have dominated their methods, nowadays the more successful, who are rarely caught, use skill and guile to exploit new consumer products in ways their inventors and suppliers did not imagine. Fraudsters come to mind as being creative, I don't mean incidentally those in Wall Street and our banks.

    No wonder at times the military community has sought their help, as was documented in WW2 with SOE and OSS.
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Con artists or criminals with creative ideas generally put those ideas into practice themselves, and any attendant risk is borne by them. In the corporate or military worlds, creative thinkers often expect the risks to be borne by someone else, which generates a bit of natural and necessary skepticism. When multiple people are involved, creative change takes longer, because more people have to be convinced. That's inevitable. Again, I'm sure the resistance to change is sometimes excessive and irrational, but I'm also sure that some people who think of themselves as creative or disruptive thinkers are a little too devoted to their own ideas and a little too quick to throw their toys out of the pram when their ideas get met with skepticism. A middle ground is needed.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    There are communities of interest that do embrace creativity, although they maybe rare here - criminals.

    "Blood & brawn" may have dominated their methods, nowadays the more successful, who are rarely caught, use skill and guile to exploit new consumer products in ways their inventors and suppliers did not imagine. Fraudsters come to mind as being creative, I don't mean incidentally those in Wall Street and our banks.

    No wonder at times the military community has sought their help, as was documented in WW2 with SOE and OSS.
    What does embracing creativity mean? I think almost all communities, even those with the most dogmatic cultures will tell you they embrace creativity, but social and psychological factors generally prevent that from being the case.

    The brain is not designed to be creative, it is designed to use routine patterns. We generally stick with what we know unless we're forced to adapt. Truly creative people for the most part are quite rare.

    Criminals for the most part, I think, use existing systems (the internet) in imaginative ways, but do they actually create something new? I can't forget the officer who claimed to be creative because he built a Facebook page for his organization. If he created Facebook he would have every right to claim being creative. I think there is a difference between being innovative, which I think means using existing tools differently from the norm, and being creative where you create something new entirely. In this case it only seems logical in hindsight, but during development it will be meant with great resistance.

    Just some thoughts, I find the topic fascinating.

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    I've been staying out of this one. At my own place of business we are in an odd creativity Catch-22; where creativity is both quashed and encouraged in equal parts.

    I won't go so far a Bill to say that "the brain is not designed to be creative," but certainly in my experience fewer people are naturally creative than are naturally not creative. Which is probably just as well, because if everyone was a visionary and no one was perfectly happy just following the recipe for some particular task, not much would ever get done.

    I also believe that many institutions are far less appreciative of creativity than others. The regular military and its heavy reliance on doctrine and objective metrics is a poster child for this. Add to this institutional inclination the Darwinian effect of selecting for promotion those who most reflect the values of the institution, and it will be a rare senior leader indeed who rises through the system as a naturally creative thinker.

    I remember clearly how ironic I found it to be when during the introductory phase of my War College class we were told that "now we were going to be taught to think strategically." News flash Army War College, your personnel system had flushed 90% of the officers with a natural inclination for strategic thinking out of the back end of the system long before they had an opportunity to be enlightened on the dogmatic "ENDs-WAYs-MEANs" perspective on strategy taught there.

    The one question that needs to be asked the most, but that is asked the least is "Why." After all, the commander has told the staff what to do, so asking "why" may be fundamental to design (which is why we added this dogmatic approach to creativity to begin with, and why equally it is not really taking root), and "why" is largely unnecessary to the Military Decision Making Process. "Why" opens up all manner of messy issues that are largely viewed as unnecessary, or even dangerous, to effective military operations.

    The intel community tells us who the "threat" is; and a narrow band of "experts" in think tanks and academia tell us why they are the threat in terms that fit the paradigms of those who designate who the experts are and who cut the checks that pay for such insights. Telling the person who pays the bills and bestows the status of "advisor" something that he/she doesn't want to hear is simply not good business; and as we all are sadly aware, this has been a very good business for many over the past 12 years

    In fact, a personal theory is that the tremendous flexibility and creativity on the battlefield that the American Military likes to boast about was due largely to the fact that our wars were fought by civilians, conscripted for the duration of the conflict, and therefore largely either unaware or unhindered by the doctrine so carefully written about how we had fought the last war by the small cadre of regulars who wrote doctrine in peace, and wore stars in war. After nearly 70 years of sustaining a war fighting military during peacetime years and waging conflicts with regulars this is simply no longer the case. There is a downside to "professionalism," and that is the monoculture of thought that comes with it. Not just what people think, but how they think about similar situations.

    How do we fix our creativity problem? Recognizing the problem for how systemic it is to our institutions is a great start. Creativity initiatives are a Band-Aid, but better than no effort at all. The real cure would require a major change in how we value that trait, and then adjusting the personnel system to identify, nurture and advance those who demonstrate that attribute.

    The regulars love the creativity the irregulars bring to the military in war. We celebrate it in our military histories, movies and narrative. But the first thing the regulars have always done when the conflict was over, was close ranks and either demote or run off the irregulars whose creativity was so central to the recent success. After all, creativity is rare, and rare things tend to make the majority uncomfortable.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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