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The Importance of Creative Individuals

Individuals, not organizations, are generally responsible for the innovations that bring about change. Geniuses, with their flashes of insight, imagination, and Creative Intelligence help move society forward. Unfortunately, geniuses in the arts and sciences can be very difficult to work with. They have fierce individuality and are impatient with those they see as less capable. Their egos are surprisingly fragile, making them emotionally vulnerable. However, organizations need to learn how to work effectively with geniuses if they want to compete effectively in the future.

Mark Morris, a choreographer and creative genius, constantly thinks and works at high speed. Impatient with those who can't keep up, he often hurts other dancers' feelings. He is described as being very bossy. In his role as the head of a dance company, he is faced with managing and directing other geniuses. He hates mentoring, but is willing to help dancers with their careers. He believes that inner motivation is critical. His business partners do the firing of employees who can't make it. Above all, he feels that he cannot tell a big star what to do. On the other hand, artists and geniuses appreciate the truth about themselves. They totally dislike false praise and meaningless encouragement. They do, however, look for recognition of their accomplishments.

Intellectual capability, along with creativity, determine a nation's or a corporation's potential. Intellect consists of factual knowledge, expert skills, and creativity. However, self-motivation is needed to assure that intellect is utilized. Another consideration is that motivated individuals who are creative are significantly more important than employees who rely on factual knowledge. Nonetheless, most companies still spend more money on basic training that emphasizes factual knowledge than on stimulating creativity. Those companies that encourage intellectual pursuits are able to exploit the exponential value of new knowledge. Knowledge and intellect grow where they are encouraged. Innovative thinking attracts other talent that further stimulates creativity and enhances the ability to compete. Think tanks, such as the Rand Corporation, at one time had the largest number of outstanding thinkers in the country, many of whom were Nobel Prize winners. This is an example of where intellectual individuals were attracted to an organization that encouraged creativity.

One way of achieving the best possible output from the intellectual members of an organization is to reduce mindless tasks and bureaucratic paperwork. Another is to eliminate the infighting that can occur because of rigid structures and formal rules. Manufacturing jobs have rarely been able to tap into the creative potential of workers. After doing the same task hundreds of times a day, there is little initiative for considering change in the workplace. Rather, the creative outlets for these workers are typically the hobbies or projects they pursue at home. Changes in the workplace and task requirements are needed to encourage creativity on the job. Typically, Japan has rewarded suggestions that have been adopted. The U.S., for the most part, does not consider suggestions as being important, which has led to low interest on the part of employees.

Creative individuals consider recognition for their contributions very important. An example is Kary Mullis, who was a chemist at Cetus, a small biotechnology company. He described how an idea came to him on how to achieve polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for quickly growing batches of DNA from mere fragments as he was driving his car. However, it was problematic to make the idea work in the laboratory. He worked alone on it unsuccessfully for three months. Cetus was becoming impatient and recommended that Mullis work on the problem with three of his colleagues. Their joint effort was eventually successful. In many cases, the experimental phase of getting an idea to work is as important as the original idea. Mullis, however, felt that he had been robbed by Cetus of the credit due him and eventually left the company. However, in 1993, Mullis received the Nobel Prize for the discovery of PCR. He felt that his role in discovering PCR was finally vindicated.

The world generally recognizes the value of a first discovery, though at times, credit is spread among those who independently came to the same conclusions. An example is Leibnitz and Newton and the discovery of calculus. Although Leibnitz published his book on calculus first, Newton had been working with the basic concepts for about 10 years prior to publishing his results.

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