Creative LeadershipCreativity

Uncreative People Can Be Extremists

First of all, I believe all people are capable of being creative. Don’t believe me? Just check out a kindergarten class. Who’s not creative in that bunch? We’re all born creative, but somewhere along the line, some people choose to follow a different path. Which is why I believe you’re either a person who doesn’t realize how creative you could be, or a person who chooses to be uncreative. And in some cases, some choose to be radically uncreative.

Once I was asked to help a major media ministry rebrand and rethink their national presence. But as always, a few people in the organization preferred the old way of doing things. But the changes I was making were having a very positive impact, so the uncreative people got desperate.  I was directing one of their national TV broadcasts – a huge live event in a massive arena in a major city. While I was directing, the uncreative folks decided to re-label the videotapes to make it look like I was incompetent, and it worked – for awhile.

While I directed the program from the control room, they posted a guy in the videotape room who didn’t put a label on the program tape at all. And then they recorded my “preview” cut, which is just the feed that I use to check different cameras. It’s not to be recorded at all, but they did record it, and labelled it as the PROGRAM.

Later, the CEO called me into his office, understandably furious. His team had shown him what they said was the program cut, and he rightly thought it was idiotic. He hammered me about how incompetent I must be at directing a television program.

I looked at it stunned for a moment, then figured it out. I went to the videotape library, looked over the tapes, and re-labeled them and re-showed them to the CEO.

He was so furious at the extent his own people had gone to undermine my work – and his ministry – he fired them on the spot.

The lesson? Never underestimate the lengths uncreative people will go to in an effort to undermine your work.  Since that incident, nothing surprises me. Desperate people want to live in a rut. They become insecure, and threatened by any change.  They like things exactly as they are, and are willing to fight to keep it that way.

So creative world changers – keep your guard up. It can get ugly out there.

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  1. I’ve heard it said that there are two types of people in the world – those who divide the world into two types of people, and those who don’t. 

    But often people do fall into one of two major perspectives on issues by choices they make.  In studying organizations it seems you have those who seek achievement and those who seek comfort.  In most cases the first group is the smaller.  Some would dub these groups pioneers and settlers, and there is a dynamic and often unspoken tension between the two.

    Both groups have value to an organization, but the direction and progress of a company are determined by which group is empowered by leadership.  The achievers ultimately depart when the settlers are in power.  The settlers often stay and fight for the known and the comfortable.  Leaders must choose the person with the right perspective for the job and task at hand.  

    There are important functions in most organizations for settlers to fulfill.  Leading change and progress is not one of them.

    1. Brilliant point Chris.  Which means that leaders have to make some very hard decisions.  When someone is actively blocking positive change – for whatever reason – that person has to be moved out of that position.  It’s tough with good, loyal, people, but the stakes are too high not to act.

  2. I call it the “Fiefdom Mentality.” It seems that churches and many organizations are divided into little kingdoms where little kings are in charge of their part of the universe. In that fiefdom, all is ruled as they see fit. Never mind that there are others to consider or the actual WHOLE of the ministry, church or organization. If you come in and make changes, they will fight you…and fight you hard and unfairly. Being a Deacon Moderator at my church was an amazing window into what some folks would do to keep in charge of their fiefdom. Never mind what the church wanted and never mind that perhaps the Lord was trying to lead them in another direction. They would not go without one heck of a lot of trouble, yelling and accusations. Fortunately, I had a pastor that had my back mostly because the “kings” didn’t like them anymore than they liked me. It is more than creativity that they will fight. They will want to not change a thing and this is one primary reason that the church has had to be dragged kicking and screaming from the last century into the next. 

  3. There are really two type of people, “Campers” and “Climbers.”  I strive to be a “Climber” while leading the organization that will always have both.

  4. I just resigned last September from an organization that sounds an awful lot like the one you describe, Phil.  After years of trying to make things better, with small successes along the way, I realized that only I and a few of the people that worked with me in the television department even WANTED things to be better.  The men who controlled the pursestrings were only concerned with keeping the man who is the face of the ministry happy.  The man who is the face of the ministry was only concerned with maintaining his lifestyle and not interested in making sensible cuts with the survival of the ministry in mind.  Also, fundraising techniques changed to greed evangelism.  I coined the phrase that they were “renting partners” rather than cultivating long term relationships with partners. This was wholly dismissed and they claimed that rather, their partners were simply “changing.”  I suppose they continue to claim that as giving to the ministry continues to shrink and employees continue to be laid off.

    It’s a relief to be out from under that kind of thinking.  

  5. People who prefer tradition, are not necessarily “uncreative” . There is a certain beauty and aesthetic to traditional things , and there are always different variations which can still keep it interesting. People who appreciate art and beauty may like more traditional things, but that doesn’t mean it is uninspired. New things can be junk too. If you put urine in a can and call it ‘art” or something well its open to interpretation. But doing something new just for the sake of doing something new is not necessarily creative. As far as church, In worship service nothing is more dull than Contemporary Rock or Christian Rock services. I love the old hymns and beauty and simplicity of the old way and some times new is just garbage. No offense.

    1. Great point Meade. However, also remember that many things we consider “traditional” today began as incredibly innovative – and sometimes radical ideas… 🙂

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