Is it possible to be too creative?

28th February 2019

Is it possible to be too creative?

There seems to be a lingering assumption that people who are creative can’t be serious. That if you’re a ‘creative type’ that you’re probably not a born leader, that you sit on the fringes without the ability, or even the interest, for business, strategic thinking or leadership. But when you think about it, there’s no real reason that this should be the case. Creative doesn’t mean wacky and strategic doesn’t mean unimaginative or dry. It takes an awful lot of creativity to be strategic and being a leader involves a whole lot of creative thinking and problem solving.

So, when people tell us we’re ‘too creative’ it makes us ask the question, ‘How is it possible to be too creative?’. Personally, we believe that it’s never possible to be too creative. But let’s break down why.

The words create, creative and creativity all come from the Latin root ‘creo’ meaning to grow. So, if we take that literally we can see that being creative isn’t just about being artistic, it’s about growing and expanding on what has come before and overcoming the obstacles that come our way. There is always room to expand upon an idea, and if humans stopped creating we wouldn’t have gotten a lot further than some entry-level hunting and gathering. For example, Charles Darwin may have been the first to come up with the Theory of Evolution, but it was the many scientists who kept searching and expanding on his work that gave us the fuller picture we have today. And the same principle applies to other areas of science, medicine, technology, fashion, art, music, business, social justice and so much more. It takes curiosity and passion to be creative and those skills apply to every area of life, whether it’s painting a picture, writing a piece of music or finding a solution to a business problem.

There are lots of ways to be creative. And for any business, that means incorporating creativity into everything they do. Even for a business like ours, where we have a designated ‘creative’ department, it doesn’t mean every other role isn’t creative as well. The ‘business’ side of things needs creative thinkers. Strategy and account management both involve coming up with innovative ways to solve problems and make a business flourish – that’s creative. Finding new solutions to problems and new ways of doing things is at the heart of what creativity is – to grow. In every role, we should be drawing on what has come before and adding to it. Saying that someone is too creative in the more ‘serious’ fields or roles is an over-simplistic understanding of what it means. Because it’s not possible to be too creative. Being creative is the basis for innovation. And we know we always bring up Apple in our examples, but in the 90s, one of Apple’s biggest competitors was IBM who had the slogan ‘Think’. So, in 1997 Apple released a campaign using the slogan ‘Think different’, and it was that one extra word that started Apple’s dominance as a marketing powerhouse, with their ads not just selling a product but a mentality. It was a simple execution, but it was a powerful one, showing that creative thinking plays a massive role in a brand’s strategy. Apple may sell a ‘serious’ product, but they’re one of the most creative companies in the world.

Creativity is at the heart of being human, so it doesn’t make sense that someone can be too creative.