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State-of-the-art research has shown over and over that creativity is difficult, if not impossible, to squeeze into restrictive workplace processes. Jennifer Mueller states that creativity has been kept in check by the way organizations are structured.

The reason is very simple and requires no scientific explanation, namely, a restrictive organizational structure or, as Mueller puts it “The number of decision-layers in your company is a huge check on creativity.”

Recent research ( Laura Huang) has also found that if one focuses on metrics, these do not protect profits of new ventures. However, if one focuses on gut feeling, one does make money. Gut feeling is a much better predictor of success than metrics.

The biological explanation is very simple, our subconscious has evolved and developed over millions of years and is much better at picking up cues that our conscious mind has no clue, especially in a restrictive organizational environment.

Most of us have felt inspired when in a naturally sunny and clean environment, full of birds, old trees, colorful flowers, pristine creeks, green pastures, etc.

The point I’m making is that our mind is naturally creative but ever since we developed restrictive organizational structures our creativity has been blocked.

Everyone knows by now that organizational silos are not healthy. There are so many checks stifling creativity and quite often these are subtle or hidden ones.

We are all aware that organizations need to let the air and sunshine in, but too few know how!

CEOs and Managers must understand that in order to change people’s mindset, i.e., to let in the air and sunshine, they must first change the organizational structure because it is the structure what drives the mindset.

Managers have been trained to manage change and have failed miserably because change is not a fixed asset, like time, money, or so many resources that do not involve the complexity of uncertainty.

Change involves inevitably the complexity of uncertainty which requires creativity and neither can be “managed” they can only be dealt with. The fundamental reason, as explained by Mueller, is the “unknowability” factor. That’s why, according to Mueller, calculating risk is a wasted exercise. “ROI? What does that even mean?” she says.

There is a definite link between lack of creativity and lower productivity. Lack of creativity goes hand in hand with little or no learning. When there is no learning there is no sense of purpose. When there is no sense of purpose there is no motivation. And the domino effect goes on and on.

We all have heard too often the term “best practices” which really means “don’t change!” Just follow what the best people in the business are doing. Hence, justifying any decision even if it fails because “it was the best practice!” So, if it failed, it was the fault of the people implementing it!

The solution for creativity to bloom is beautifully simple and powerful.

We just need to create an organizational environment based on a participative non-dominant hierarchy.

Yes, we must have a hierarchy, but it does not have to be restrictive or dominant!

To The Health Of Your People’s Creativity!

JC Wandemberg Ph.D.


Sustainable Systems International

About the author: Dr. Wandemberg is the Dean of Woxsen School of Arts & Design and an independent consultant, professor, and analyst of economic, environmental, social, managerial, marketing, and political issues. For the past 25 + years Dr. Wandemberg has collaborated with corporations, communities, and organizations to integrate sustainability through self-transformation processes and Open Systems Design Principles, thus, catalyzing a Culture of Trust, Transparency, and Integrity.

Note: The comments presented here are the full responsibility of the author and do not necessarily represent the view of Sustainable Systems International or Woxsen School of Arts & Design.

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Dean at Woxsen School of Arts & Design

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