Creativity versus Conformity

The tension between creativity and social conformity is an age-old conflict.

When we come into the world as newborns, our parents are full of glee and hope. They dedicate themselves to raising a unique individual with unparalleled talent, brilliance and creativity.

For our first five years of life, our parents are focused on stimulating and nurturing every sense: sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing. We learn, grow, and laugh—and are rewarded by our parents’ delight.

The road to creativity and brilliance is set. Or is it?

Over the next 12-16 years, the social message takes a sudden turn. We enter school and encounter a new set of rules for success. These are based on conformity. Our educational system awards the child who conforms, not the child who marches to the personal beat of a creative drummer.

By the time we graduate into the real working world, our creative confidence has bowed to the pressures of compliance. Then, suddenly, the message changes again. Businesses are faced with competitors in China, Korea and Asia, where the formula for success is grounded in conformity. Besting these competitors means thinking outside of the box, but how can we climb out of the box with the generic, boiler-plated and scripted tools we’ve been taught?

In order to compete successfully, we have to rediscover our creativity by fostering a work culture that values the power of fresh thinking and rewards the courage to take chances. If we are willing to reach beyond the safe confines of conformity, the rewards of innovation will always be within our grasp.

– Dave Kuettel

Dave Kuettel

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