Do we need creativity? Of course we do . . .

Mike Wootton

Mike Wootton

I just read an article entitled “why companies shouldn’t hire creative people”. According to the writer creative people don’t have the ability to carry their ideas through to fruition and even if they did there would be a high probability of failure of the creative idea as somebody else has probably tried it before, and if it didn’t work that time then it won’t work next time. How negative can you get!

Well, the opinion makes you think. Not for long of course. I once worked for a person whose requirement was that the process that was established by the corporation for doing something had to be followed unswervingly and unquestioningly. Then even if the result was a failure the right thing had been done because the process had been followed. What a stupid approach to life and of a similar nature to the contention that creative people shouldn’t be hired.

Creative people do have to be carefully managed, though, and most people find it difficult to handle the challenge the often fairly wild ideas that are generated by such individuals. There can be no doubt, though, that creativity is a good thing, otherwise how would progress be made? The trick is for management to be able to discourage impractical ideas and encourage those which may have some hope of success and nurture their development to the point at which success or otherwise can be proven.

There is a lot of creativity in the Philippines, just look at the way jeepneys get fixed, vehicles which wouldn’t be allowed on the road in most places still keep travelling around, the number of people who want to start their own business and even the number of scams that proliferate. But this creativity is borne of desperation, a lack of decent work and employment opportunities and honest ways in which to earn a living.

At the other end of the Philippines social spectrum there doesn’t seem to be too much creativity; SM still keeps building shopping malls, the landowners continue to develop their landholdings. Not too many of the oligarchs venture far from their familiar territory, but then they don’t need to, the competition is stitched up and the areas in which they dominate continue to maintain a market funded by remittances from the OFWs (and long may these continue !).

Social networking is a creative idea that has made lots of money for those who developed the various household names. Twitter, Weibo, Facebook and the great raft of others which in turn have spawned massive development and use of tablets and cell phones. But despite the vast amounts of money that these things generate you really have to pause to wonder how they contribute to making jobs and getting people who need regular work and incomes to actually do things which would make a real material contribution to the economy. The economic effect of social networking seems to be of high value to a few and to positively detract from creating real jobs and long term investment for the many (lots of time spent “chatting”).

There is a role for government in fostering creativity in order to improve the economy for the benefit of all. Entrepreneurs are by definition creative. They are prepared to invest their time and money in the generation and development of business ideas that they hope will succeed, and alas many don’t, far more fail then ever succeed but this is not a reason to dispense with creativity. Nor should highly viable creative ideas be the exclusive preserve of those who have developed them to serve purely their own ends, albeit they should not be discouraged by whatever mechanism may be put in place to ensure “benefit for all.”

In short,creativity is necessary for economic development, otherwise we just remain static. Government could play a useful role in encouraging and fostering creative development of new business ideas for the benefit of the economy as a whole and to some degree protecting those with valid ideas from the consequences of failure. This is the idea behind the business incubators but these do not seem to have been too successful and there is no protection from failure. Be good to find another way and let the creativity which exists among and within Filipinos blossom, not out of desperation but for real societal benefit, and please protect the entrepreneurs whose ideas work from being swallowed (or crushed) by local big business.

Mike can be contacted at


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