They value more compliance than creativity: Why do they?

Most employers claim that they value creativity but in reality a big number of these value more compliance. What is creativity? What is compliance? Why do they value more compliance than creativity? By Assumpta Happy Umwagarwa  Human Resources Professional 

Creativity is about coming up with novel and original ideas and objects while compliance is about conformity in fulfilling requirements and accomplishing tasks. Creativity is very much linked to uncertainty. It does not guarantee immediate success. It’s about making and breaking until you get it right. Compliance is about complying with the proven standards and methods. It minimizes the risks of getting it wrong.

Have you put some money in your company? Did you write the business plan? Have you tried and failed before, till when you reached a point that you were satisfied with your strategy? Would you really want any person to come and take you back to step#1 and through the trial and error era? Yes. It may be necessary because the environment keeps on changing. No. You did it before and you learnt from the experience and believe you are in a better position to take the steering wheel and decide when to turn and how to turn.

Are you an employee of that big organization that claimed that they value creativity but you feel frustrated that all you do is about complying with pre-determined set of standards? They did not lie to you. They indeed want someone who can generate creative ideas but they want to stay in control and do the filtering of those ideas. You will only implement what fits in the box they designed for you.

So frustrating and discouraging? Yes I know. I have been there! I will give you few hints of what you may do. You may not use your creativity at the same level as those who have more freedom of operation; but there is what you can do to be creative within the limits set by the organization.

Why do they restrain your creativity?

Reason # 1: You cannot drive a car from the passenger seat
Unless you are that person who is hired by the Board of Directors to change the strategy of the company; you are on the passenger seat of the organization and trying to drive from that seat will only cause accidents. In the organizational jargon, they call those accidents; interferences.

What can you do?

I would probably ask, why did you decide to start the journey without having an idea where the organization was heading to? Before you apply for a job, you should get detailed information about the organization’s mission and vision. You should not only consider how you can help this organization achieve its mission but also how its mission is in line with the purpose you would like to serve in life.

It may not bother me whether or not the driver is turning left or right as longer as he/she is working to serve the same purpose I have vowed to serve.

That’s me. How about you?

Reason #2: They decided the destination and drew the strategy to get there

Whoever founded the company or the organization did not only decide the destination but also the strategy to get there. He/she decided when to get there and how to get there. He decided whether or not he will move fast or slowly. He decided the tools he will be using. He decided the networks he will be affiliated to and those that he will be avoiding. He decided whether or not he will be among the quality leaders, quantity leaders or cost leaders. Are you that IT Engineer, who wants the organization to spend more money on IT equipment that will suddenly change the way business is done? You should consider whether or not your recommendation is in line with the organization’s strategy.

What can you do?

I continue to encourage you to generate creative ideas but these should be in line with the strategy of the company you work for. Unless you are among those that formulate the strategy, they would love if you would help them creatively implement their strategy without attempting to change it.
Please understand well the strategy of the organization you work for and decide whether or not it’s something you want to be associated with.

The organization may have a mission that I want to be part of but as a person, I want to work where I can contribute with my competencies and ideas. This should be in line with my understanding of job success and how this contributes to my whole life success story.

That’s me. How about you?

Reason #3: They are prepared to take the risk; you are only prepared to share the return.

This is the most important reason. There are so many laws that protect employees including those that state that they should get their salaries no matter what. Employees are not shareholders but stakeholders. Employees will rejoice when you have made profits but although they will not be happy that the company they work for has made losses; they will still expect to receive their salaries at the end of the month. The organizations we work for calculate the risks of implementing our creative ideas and unless the projected return is overwhelming and the risk is minimal; they shall decide not to implement our creative ideas. When you work for yourself, sometimes; you just want to try and satisfy your curiosity. When you work for others; it’s about what they get from implementing your creative ideas.

What can you do?

When suggesting some creative ways of doing business in the companies you work for, please consider more what is in it for them and assure them that the risk is minimal compared to the projected return. You will be surprised to see that a lot of former employees come back to implement their creative ideas in the organizations they left; but not as employees but independent consultants. Do you know why? Because this time around; it’s more the risk that is shared than the return.

Should I start my own journey and hire others to accompany me instead of being hired to accompany others in their journey? May be I will decide so after reading your comments.

That’s me. How about you?

I have written a book on how to turn creative potential into success. It’s now with my publisher and it will be out early 2015. I may admit that although the book is useful to anyone who will want to turn his/her creativity into success; as an HR Strategist; my research led me to understanding how easier it is to apply your creativity when you go the entrepreneurial way. As an employee, I may only guide you on how you can apply your creativity as an intrapreneur and not entrepreneur and with this you may utilize only a small percentage of your creative potential. It should be up to you to decide whether or not you should contribute as a passenger or a driver.

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