Why Companies Shouldn’t Hire Creative People
“Creative people are a waste of time and money.” So said my new boss. We gave her six months. It was good that we did because by then she had already started to turn around a company that seemed permanently in decline. And yes, most of the ‘creative’ people were gone or on their way out.
The internet is awash with quotes by the famous and successful about the beauty of risk taking, the supremacy of creativity, and the power of absolute innovation, but the new boss was having none of it. For her, most creative people were full of ideas, but lacked the discipline or mindset to discern practical from impractical ideas and also to carry the ideas selected to a practical and profitable conclusion. What’s more, they had a layer of protection in that if their projects failed, they could say, “Well at least we tried something creative.”
Their replacements at our company were what you could call ‘constructive.’ They were there to build sustainable projects, not just to launch brilliant and innovative ideas onto the market. The model used was that of building a house: firm foundations of market analysis and benchmarking, walls built on concrete project management practices, and a roof that was a solid, realistic goal.
If this ‘anti-creativity’ policy sounds like a ridiculously conservative strategy that sits very badly in our rapidly changing economy, so be it. It worked.
Here’s what happened:
- No more brainstorming – Replaced with ‘quality controlled’ discussions based on metrics and benchmarking.
- Copy don’t innovate – Far higher percentage chance of success.
- Dismantle the marketing department – Take it out of its cool office with the trash can basketball hoop and install the staff in the heart of the company.
- Salespeople stick to the script – You only have to look at the recent misselling of energy in the UK to see the dangers of allowing ‘creative’ selling.
- No original sales or marketing strategies – If no-one is selling or marketing in a certain way, there’s probably a reason. It’s like someone has done your market research for you. Of course, some new sales and marketing ideas are a roaring success, but do you want to stake your job that yours will be one of the lucky few?
- Real consequences for failure – Thus sharpening everyone’s minds.
You may think, “I don’t want to work in a stifling environment like that,” but would you rather work in an exciting and vibrant company that everybody knows is unlikely to survive the winter, or one where you have the right to spend your guaranteed salary however creatively you want?
– Paul Currant –