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Exploding Creativity

December 13th, 2011 at 7:11 pm

Executing Cheaters

OK, the title is far more provocative than it needs to be–it’s the combination of two articles that recently caught my eye:

  • Original Sinners from the Wall Street Journal’s December 3-4, 2011, edition
  • Innovation’s Hard Part from Fortune Magazine’s December 6, 2010, issue

The Original Sinners article was about ethics, describing a study that ‘probed’ students’ creativity and intelligence, and then gave them a test in which cheating was an option. The study found that the high scorers on creativity were more likely to cheat than the lower scorers, whereas there was no link between general IQ and the likelihood of cheating.

Hmm…so what are we to think of this?? Are creative people really more prone to be ethically challenged? Are creative people more likely to be risk takers, and cheating a risk they are more likely to take if given the chance? Are creative people creative about their concept of ethics and more likely to bend their ethics under certain circumstances? Is the experiment described really even valid?

As I was pondering these questions, the Fortune Magazine article caught my attention. (I save magazines for a year and then re-read them before tossing them in to the recycling container.) Innovation’s Hard Part is a book review of The Other Side of Innovation by Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble. I’m sure they make more points in their book, but the very thin book review says the authors show that innovative ideas get more attention than they’re due, and the hard part is executing on them.

So that got me thinking that maybe the creative students considered cheating a short-cut to execution (the end result, in this case being filled-in bubbles on a question form). Or maybe creative people are more lazy than others and instead of expending the energy to master something and execute on something, when the end-result appears they’re more likely to take the short cut. I don’t know.

I do know, though, you have to be careful who you do business with. Diversification is fine, but it’s important to have the same values.

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