When Creativity Kills

I love all things creative.  In fact, encouraging people to be more creative in their life and work is a big focus of my own life and work. However, occasionally I come across places where creativity is actually destroying the organization. For instance, a few years ago, I consulted with an organization that wanted to refresh their brand and develop an overall communications strategy for their television, web, and social media presence.  But once I starting working, I realized creativity was all they cared about.

They blew off deadlines, strategy, branding – all for the sake of being more creative.  They were having a blast, and weren’t interested in the least in listening to Phil – or anybody else.  I didn’t take long for us both to realize that having me there wasn’t worth it, so we shook hands and parted ways – and ever since, they’ve been in decline.  Sales, response, donors – everything in decline.

What they didn’t understand is that creativity is fantastic – but without an overall strategy and purpose, it loses it’s impact.  No matter how creative you are, if it doesn’t serve the brand and help tell your story more effectively, it’s actually working against you.

The most creative artists in history were more often than not serving a cause. Michaelangelo argued with Pope Julius II constantly, but out of that struggle created the Sistine Chapel. Steve Jobs is a creative genius, but he knows that ultimately, his products have to express the brand ethos of Apple, and most of all – they have to ship.

Be creative.  Be wild.  But make sure your creativity is serving a bigger cause.  Otherwise, your greatest work will ultimately fail.

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  1. Very sound advice. I find that I need to be careful not to spend too much time on creativity for creativity sake, but rather focused on a cause. The end result is always more satisfying because it has a purpose.

    I think Michaelangelo is a prime example.

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