Creative People

Creative People

Dave Kinnear 1-On Leadership

Creative People:

That sounds redundant to me. We (people, that is) ARE creative. Can we speak of creativity and not be speaking of people for the most part? Yet we people also wind up somehow creating environments that stifle creativity. Why?

Perhaps we don’t know the origins of creativity. Indeed, we haven’t figured out exactly how the brain connects things in creative ways. We do have some tantalizing hypotheses. Yet, I think we can figure out what environments can lead to creativity and which settings tend to stifle creativity.

Creative People

Education Stifles:

Our education system stifles creativity. Kids generally stop dreaming, trying new things, and being willing to risk failure by the third grade or so. Our businesses seem to do the same thing to make sure we have conformance rather than exploration, trial, or experimentation. Even those companies who depend on innovation (pharmaceutical companies, for example) try to weed out ideas that will not lead to new products. We build silos around the various specialty sciences — neuroscientists rarely hobnob with particle physicists.

There are signs that things may finally be changing in the science community. Recent books exploring human consciousness, for example, have indicated that many scientific disciplines are collaborating. That’s welcome news. One such book, Life on the Edge, explores how quantum mechanics is informing neuroscience.


Some businesses are also trying to rebuild creative environments by ensuring employees have ample opportunities to “bump into” one another. They are assembling cross-functional teams when embarking on large projects or attempting to create strategic plans.

None of this change in reclaiming human creativity can happen soon enough as far as I’m concerned. As we move toward a world where we will be replaced by and have our contribution enhanced by artificial intelligence (AI), it would be in our best interest to “amp up” the creative environments for our people.

[Lightly edited in 9/2020 for our new website.]