“people are afraid of creative ideas and in situations of uncertainty, will associate them with words like “vomit”, “poison” and “agony”!

People Think Creative Ideas Are Like Vomit.
Most people do not like creative ideas and can even compare them to vomit. Really.  Recent research Jennifer S. Mueller…people are afraid of creative ideas and in situations of uncertainty, will associate them with words like “vomit”, “poison” and “agony”!

This research implies that:

  • no matter how much effort you put into designing an effective ideation process for generating ideas,
  • the most creative ideas are the ones most likely to be rejected in favour of what the researchers term “practical” ideas, what we would probably refer to as “incremental improvement” ideas.
  • Most importantly, because people are not aware that they are doing this, a simple demand that people promote “creative ideas” is unlikely to be effective.

According to the researchers: “…when endorsing a novel idea, people can experience failure, perceptions of risk, social rejection when expressing the idea to others , and uncertainty about when their idea will reach completion.  Uncertainty is an aversive state which people feel a strong motivation to diminish and avoid.  Hence, people can also have negative associations with novelty; an attribute at the heart of what makes ideas creative in the first place.”

Uncertainty Makes Creative Ideas Less Pleasant
…in times of uncertainty, people like creative ideas even less than in times of greater certainty. However, the past few years of economic turmoil have been times of great uncertainty in a corporate world that has already spent decades scaring employees through change: downsizing, mergers, new technologies and more. As employees become more uncertain about their futures in any given workplace, they will only become increasingly anti-creativity. And that is deadly for your innovation process.

One thing this research does not consider is self-censorship. Before anyone suggests an idea in a brainstorming session, submits it to an idea management system or proposes it to her manager, she needs to make a decision in her own mind whether to voice the idea or keep it to herself.  The logical assumption from the research would be that people probably do censor their ideas for creativity, in spite of any instructions they may receive otherwise. After all, if someone finds an idea to be highly unpleasant, the last thing she will want to do is to share it!

This fact alone will have serious consequences for any innovation initiative. Sure, you can tell people to share creative ideas, but you might as well be telling them to share revolting ideas!

What Can You Do?
the paper does point out one element of uncertainty in people’s minds.  That is that in most idea generation sessions, the aim is to identify a single best idea that is to be implemented.  This implies that any idea an individual suggests is likely to be rejected.  This causes uncertainty and discomfort.  On the other hand, informing people that multiple ideas will be implemented reduces uncertainty which will make them feel less negatively towards creative ideas.

“In addition, our results suggest that if people have difficulty gaining acceptance for creative ideas especially when more practical and unoriginal options are readily available, the field of creativity may need to shift its current focus from identifying how to generate more creative ideas to identifying how to help innovative institutions recognize and accept creativity.”

“…scholars have long been puzzled by the finding that organizations, scientific institutions, and decisions-makers routinely reject creative ideas even when espousing creativity as an important goal.  Similarly, research documents that teachers dislike students who exhibit curiosity and creative thinking even though teachers acknowledge creativity as an important educational goal.”

Edited from – http://www.jpb.com/creative/vomit.php

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s