I was reminded of Gordon twice today. First when hearing of a friend’s frustration with ‘non-creative’ management and next while reading Gil Corkindale’s HBR post: Find the Creativity Hiding in Your Office.
Gordon saw his duty at Hallmark to be loyally subversive.
He intuitively understood the conflict between a corporation’s need for control and the creative process. He worked to free us up and let the creativity flow – understanding that we could pick through the wreckage for the good ideas later in the day. (Here’s a 1997 Fast Company interview. and a link to his book Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace)
I’ve come to believe the biggest peril to creativity in any organization is how you react when it is truly in play. Allowing for creativity also allows disjointed, random thoughts that take meetings in unpredictable directions. If your first reaction to a stray idea is to shut it down, get the meeting back on track, force ideas to be defended the minute they appear…. Then your team will get the message, get down to business and work through the day in steps 1, 2, 3, 4. Good little soldiers. Sometimes appropriate, sometimes not.
Running into Gordon at Hallmark was always an uplifting experience. He was interested in your ideas, challenged your preconceived notions and bridged a gap that exists in every organization between control and creativity.
Have you let your creative spirit go skipping down the halls lately?