Creativity as an egotistical, solitary, (profitable) endeavour
Colin asks on 38minutes whether good design could save newspapers, having spent six minutes watching Jacek Utko's TED Talk about his own redesign revolution throughout Eastern Europe. But the talk raises another, more widely applicable point in creativity: working alone is often better than working as a team.
Utko's principle point is that by handing power over to the designers, newspapers can change their whole recipe, from writing and editorial to the type of person, the demographic, that reads the paper. But he also makes an interesting point, particularly interesting for me in the light of the two posts I've recently written on the processes for encouraging and management of creativity:
The idea that the best creative thought can come from not working in a team, from not working collaboratively, but is derived from solitude and being headstrong with one's peers, pushing one's own ideas through regardless of whether "the team" feels comfortable with it is, in many education circles (and professional ones), treated as a selfish, dirty, shameful notion to possess.
Yet, it's not the first time I'm hearing this. John Cleese makes the point that we all need to carve out private time for creative thought, free from the distraction of naysayers and, er, Twitter. And last year, as I worked my way through Gordon Torr's Managing Creative People, I was well aware that throughout history the best creative solutions to challenging problems have come from individuals working in isolation or skunkwork groups working away from the main part of an organisation.
All too often we fall for groupthink, a magnolia shade of creativity where everyone is happy with the outcome. What one ends up with can often be the result of a process with which everyone was delighted, but a result which is vaguely unsatisfactory for all concerned.
Consultation and speaking with others is important, but often when it comes down to the execution of an idea it's the solitary craft of creativity that makes something exciting, groundbreaking and, yes, something which someone, somewhere won't like.