Creativity cannot be managed, but it doesn’t mean creative people cannot be managed either

Creativity cannot be managed, but it doesn’t mean creative people cannot be managed either. (My apologies for the repetition.)

Let me take the case of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. It decided to formally start utilizing a creative woman – I am not sure if she works with a creative group – to be in charge of its page one designs after a little less than two decades in circulation and, in a short time, also responsible for the designs of other pages, including prominent spaces of its weekly magazine, supplements and other printed materials and online content.

The editorial group of the Inquirer used to be the sole group responsible for arranging the content of the pages with the help, of course, of section editors and layout artists. The top-level editors (editor in chief, publisher and managing editor) were calling the shots concerning the Inquirer’s final layout / content.

That system of editors-only judgment call was changed a little bit with the advent of the Internet, where graphic designs and creativity of artists and of creative writers favored better tastes as if good taste isn’t enough, and where creativity became “more” more than meets the eye.

The lady creative director (mostly referred to as “Design: ______”) is almost always on-call and is also called upon in the editors’ meeting to give her final say on the layout / content in order to help the editors arrive at a best decision and/or finish the job of closing the pages.

Why creative people can be managed? Simply because management (management group with editorial group in the Inquirer’s case) is the holder of the gold, the one handling the business. Management might mishandle the business, but the fact remains that it is the one managing the business right from the outset.

Barya lang

But as to why creativity cannot be managed, I can say that it is in view of its being intangible and imaginary. No amount of expertise in management can see the true worth of creativity; management will only bring in ideas, but the brightest of ideas do not belong to management unless managers rise from the ranks of creative staffers.

Sometimes, creativity’s worth today cannot be reasonably expected to be so true the next day(s). Or what is creative today may not necessarily produce the same result if you look back on it from whatever perspective the past day/year may have.

It’s very difficult to even think about managing creativity. I have a bit of experience to back up my claims. (We differ in perspectives, so take it as the way I look at creativity’s being unmanageable and at creative people’s being manageable.)

In a past job, I needed to be under a director, whose position was newly created by our company at the time. He was a good man. And we thought he very well knew what he was doing in the company’s PR effort. Until I discovered he was outsourcing his work and was taking credits for jobs I was doing for him, but he wasn’t sport enough to say to the company’s top honchos that those were my write-ups, my group’s creativity and all.

Such bastardization of my profession and the primordial objective it is aiming caused him the job; he was fired after only four months in office. The point is simple: You can control people’s creativity when you choose to be untruthful.

I had a note. Kaufman & Sternberg wrote on page 84 of “The Cambridge Handbook of Creativity”:

“In a dynamic system, creative ideas, products, and solutions are creative only temporarily – when they are introduced and judged. But over time, they become seen as standard and conventional because they have been internalized by a majority of minds of cultural members. These ideas, products, or solutions are no longer new, even if they retain the label of having once been innovative. The challenge is for people who seek creativity – both improvement and expression – to have the foresight to consider the wider ramifications of these purposes on themselves, others, institutions, communities, and the environment.”

I wanted to say that creativity is time-sensitive too, and came up with the statement: “Sometimes, creativity’s worth today cannot be reasonably expected to be so true the next day(s). Or what is creative today may not necessarily produce the same result if you look back on it from whatever perspective the past day/year may have.”

When the Inquirer columnists all had their eyes closed in their photos for a week in 2011 (part of which was made available at http://www.campaignbrief.com/asia/2011/12/bbdo-guerrero-get-behind-an-am.html), Ma. Ceres P. Doyo said:

“Again, to explain: The columnists’ mug shots show closed eyes this entire week, our way of proclaiming solidarity with victims of crimes and their families who have doubly suffered because of the culture of impunity which has allowed those guilty to remain unpunished or to be above the law. This week also marks the second anniversary of the massacre of 58 innocents, 32 of them media practitioners, which happened in Ampatuan, Maguindanao. Although some masterminds and other suspects are now behind bars, the judicial process proceeds at a slow pace and the families of the victims have yet to get the justice they are crying for…We close our eyes to pray, reflect and remember.”

While an editor’s note to explain their appearance and other explanations drove home their point of creativity, not all readers were happy for that. Many others thought the columnists’ photoshopped appearance was really creative and awe-inspiring. Repeating it in future publications is, of course, another story as we would remember that its being creative is temporary. DC Alviar

 

 

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