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I’d like to think that I’m not easily surprised, but I recently came across an article that left me completely gob smacked.  This article described a dark side of creativity that I never knew about – and this dark side is that creative people are more likely to be dishonest!

After first reading this, my first reaction was to doubt it, however there have been a number of studies conducted over the years that continue to prove that this dark side exists.

One of the first studies in this area was conducted by Francesca Gino from Harvard Business School and Dan Ariely at Duke University. Their research uncovered that creative thinkers are better at rationalising dishonesty than their uncreative counterparts. So in other words, creative thinkers are better at coming up with creative solutions to benefit from cheating without affecting their wholesome image.

In more recent research, Lynne Vincent from Syracuse University and Maryam Koucheki from North Western University have found that when creativity is considered to be a rare skill, creative people can feel a sense of entitlement which in turn leads them feeling they deserve more than others.

So after taking this all in, I reflected on how we can ensure this dark side never surfaces within our own organisations…

  • Promote the fact that creativity is like any other working ability – even those with not a creative bone in their body can boost their creative ability with the right tools and techniques!
  • Provide employees with the opportunity to boost their creativity. This might be in the form of a practical toolkit or creativity training. If training is your game, it’s important to make sure that all employees not only have access to the training, but that they also are given the time to take it up if they wish.
  • Formally define innovation to ensure that the organisation understands that innovation is for everyone. We define innovation as  ‘Change that adds value’ as it shows that innovation and idea generation is not just reserved for a few elite super-creatives, but rather that anyone and everyone in an organisation can participate.