Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Yes, you are a creative genius

So today Booth hosted a lunch event with Annette Moser-Wellman, a "leading expert on innovation and leadership", and although I wasn't planning on attending the event, intrigued by concept of discovering "personal and corporate genius" and the notion of institutionalized innovation (given my course in embedded innovation this quarter), I decided to take the free creativity profile (free courtesy of Booth, that is). And I am happy to report that I am a creative genius ... well, I think the premise is that we all are ... if we find the right consultant.

This is no knock on Ms. Moser-Wellman, who likely helps corporate types "understand their creative style" and "marshal their creative genius and unleash it at work". It just left me wondering why the whole thing leaves me so skeptical and uncomfortable.

First, perhaps I should say that my husband is an artist (painting and sculpture degree from a conservatory), his mother is an art teacher, his brother is currently in art school, my father currently makes his living as an artist (self-taught), my grandmother is a literary agent, my grandfather on the other side was a music teacher whose 8 kids were expected to play every instrument imaginable, not to mention the many friends I have making their living one way or the other in the arts, and I only finally came to terms with the fact that I would not be making my living as an artist about a year after undergrad while fully ensconced in a job on an energy trading desk.

But I can't help but feel that despite the best of intentions, corporate types just can't quite get it right when they try to get intentionally "creative" and "innovative". And the attempts just look farcical. So it's better to stick with what you're actually good at (spreadsheets and such). I feel similarly about people who love to use the word "out of the box thinking" which is just a red flag. Anyone who is truly "out of the box" likely is not aware that there was a box to begin with, let alone inclined to articulate the distinction. (grammar police, help!) So I think my discomfort lies in the trying. I can't help but feel that somethings are better off left unsaid, uncommitted, unplanned, unrehearsed. Both in preparation for and during MBA land I find myself in perpetual struggle against my aversion to polish and practice and my acknowledgement that there are times in life when the eager beaver, over achiever method is more successful. And although institutionalized innovation seems like a complete oxymoron, Whirlpool certainly seems to have transformed themselves along these lines.

So ... I don't know.


paragon2pieces said...

Somewhat along these lines, my Commercialization of Technology class recently had a guest speaker who presented a software package that (according to him) systematically increases innovation. It's definitely a stretch to think that innovation or creativity can be programmed.

Anonymous said...

What are your thoughts on the innovation class this quarter? Find it useful? Recommend it?

Anonymous said...

Have you taken Schrager or Rock (Cases in FM)
your opinions on it please?


MaybeMBA said...

I'll definitely comment more specifically on the innovation course, once we are done with the class and grades are finalized.

I think I just got Schrager for spring quarter (yay!) (bid all my points on it) (but our bidding system is kaput this week, so I'm not entirely sure) I have not taken Rock but I know that course is very popular. Personally I'm maxed out on corp fin ... but he is supposed to be great. Rajan (Intl Corp Fin) is excellent ... taking that this quarter. Will give the full recap after quarter end.

Josh said...

Wow, awesome post. I couldn't agree more.

Having spent four very formative years in a Drama conservatory undergrad program amongst some truly creative spirits... I am always amazed when I hear this kind of corporate-speak.

When did "creative" become synonymous for "being good at something"? Shouldn't you always be looking for efficient solutions for the business problems that you face? If you don't, you will be left behind. If you do, you will be hailed as an "innovator" by the business community.

But that doesn't make you a "creative genius".

Innovation in business is far more technical than the creative process that any artist, musician, or theatre person goes through. I do believe there is some overlap in the brain, but most of the business-types I've met wouldn't know the first thing about a true creative process, because it is way too messy and can't be modeled in excel.

Don't get me started on words like "Ideation"... but you've covered that ground already here. :-)

MaybeMBA said...

p2p and Josh - spot on comments. I was pondering my post some more yesterday and realized that my quibble was really with lack of authenticity, far too frequently found in corporate land. (Well, everywhere in fact ... plenty of insincerity and posturing in art land.)