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What Price: Creativity?


If asked, I'm guessing probably 9 out of 10 companies will say they are creative or creativity plays an integral part in their business.

Do they really?

Do they even understand what creativity is and who can best deliver that creativity, internally or externally? Eh, this is all debatable, not to mention their willingness to pay for that creativity.

As you expect, creativity comes in many forms. You can travel down a rabbit hole searching for types and factors that make up creativity, so I won't torture you with that! Some say creativity is all about art and the ability to draw, dance, and write: using your body. Others say it’s about thinking about something in a clever or original new way: using your brains. The Oxford Languages dictionary defines creativity as “the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of artistic works.” From Human Motivation, 3rd ed. By Robert E Franken, creativity is defined as “the tendency to generate or recognize ideas, alternatives. or possibilities that may be useful in solving problems, communicating with others, and entertaining ourselves and others.” (page 396)

It has also been argued that true originality doesn't exist, and a creative person only scours the past and looks for pieces they can join together to repurpose or re-render an idea in a fresh new package.

And this is where experience comes in. A creative person who has lived through that process of scouring over and over has, despite a few misses along the way, delivered consistent creative solutions again and again. The fact is a creative really digs in and understands the problem based on points of past information, perhaps combining information in a new package. The truth is creative people have honed skill sets, and it is essential for companies to recognize these skill sets when looking for creative help.

But here is where the rub comes in. Companies rarely want to pay for it! I can't tell you how many times I have had discussions with creatives who say companies want to pay them less than half of what the job should cost. Why is that? Sure, companies all want to keep spending in line, but at the same time, they want breakthrough advice, conceptual thinking, and result-driven ideas. So often, I hear a client say, "Let's just do part of the job or half of the job, and we will see how it goes." Really! If you want half a job, you will get half, if not less, of creative input and probably end up not much further ahead with your problem. If it was so easy, they should be able to do it themselves, right? More often than not, the hiring person is not a creative; hence the request, or the person responsible for paying, doesn’t see the money for the trees :)!

I have kept a meme that I found online that I always found truthful. “If I do a job in 30 minutes, it’s because I spent 10 years learning how to do that in 30 minutes. You owe me for the years, not the minutes.”

So, for those of you wanting a creative person to help in crafting something different, a unique and wonderful object, organizing principle, future vision, or new ideas for an existing line, think about why you are paying them. You will be glad you did.

Oh, and think about what creativity should cost. Hint: It's priceless!

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