I have been on a bit of a renaissance journey over the past 4-5 years. Nearly all of my life I have been assigned the moniker “rebellious” in various situations in my life. I have been told I was “difficult to manage” by previous superiors in the workplace. I’ve always taken some of that feedback on board as a means to try and improve myself, but always felt it had a bit of a malicious tone to it instead of a helpful one. What I discovered? I am more creative than I gave myself credit for.

I have learned that creativity almost always happens outside the boundaries of conformity. Those who have a proclivity towards conformity often feel threatened, offended or irritated by those who actually enjoy dancing outside the prescriptive lines drawn by conformity. Creativity is an act of rebellion on some level. Now I realize that the reason I was “difficult to manage” was because I should have been led by that person, rather than attempted to be managed…punished for lack of conformity, whatever.

rebellionInnovation is rooted in creativity and innovation is what pushes the competitive advantage for companies. There has been a ton of research on what makes up the creative process, so it can be replicated, scaled, etc. In the situations where I thrived the most was when I was given a bit of latitude to be a bit rebellious; not in a disrespectful way, but as a sanctioned non-conformist. It was in those environments where I have done my best work and added the most value. This was true as a traditional employee as well as in running my own company.

I posit that, instead of finding new ways to develop processes, leadership should be looking for the areas where non-conformity can be unleashed within their organizations. Instead of trying to industrialize the creative process (is that even possible?), perhaps have strategically selected environments that facilitate creativity.

Creativity is a continuum and organizations have people who reside in various places on that continuum. I am nearly a 50/50 split between creativity and analytical type thinking. It depends on the situation, my mood, my level of comfort with or knowledge of the issue/task and a host of other things. It’s not neat and packaged, nor is it easily defined or explained. It is fluid, abstract and has a definite impact on the bottom line. Human-centric businesses are comfortable with abstract and they let that ambiguity become a strength, instead of feeling threatened by it.

I would love to hear some of your experiences and your thoughts on this. This has been my experience. What has been yours?