Today’s post is by business card sketch artist Hugh MacLeod; I personally quite enjoy his slightly irreverent insightfulness. This excerpt, #8, is from his new book, “Ignore Everybody” where he describes 37 tips that he says have worked for him over the years. Read the first 25% of the book for free at gapingvoid.com, then go buy the rest. Enjoy! -Josh

8. Companies that squelch creativity can no longer compete with companies that champion creativity.

Nor can you bully a subordinate into becoming a genius.

Since the modern, scientifically-conceived corporation was invented in the early half of the Twentieth Century, creativity has been sacrificed in favor of forwarding the interests of the “Team Player”.

Fair enough. There was more money in doing it that way; that’s why they did it.
There’s only one problem. Team Players are not very good at creating value on their own. They are not autonomous; they need a team in order to exist.

So now corporations are awash with non-autonomous thinkers.

“I don’t know. What do you think?”

“I don’t know. What do you think?”

“I don’t know. What do you think?”

“I don’t know. What do you think?”

“I don’t know. What do you think?”

“I don’t know. What do you think?”

And so on.

Creating an economically viable entity where lack of original thought is handsomely rewarded creates a rich, fertile environment for parasites to breed. And that’s exactly what’s been happening. So now we have millions upon millions of human tapeworms thriving in the Western World, making love to their Powerpoint presentations, feasting on the creativity of others.

What happens to an ecology, when the parasite level reaches critical mass?

The ecology dies.

If you’re creative, if you can think independantly, if you can articulate passion, if you can override the fear of being wrong, then your company needs you now more than it ever did. And now your company can no longer afford to pretend that isn’t the case.

So dust off your horn and start tooting it. Exactly.

However if you’re not paricularly creative, then you’re in real trouble. And there’s no buzzword or “new paradigm” that can help you. They may not have mentioned this in business school, but… people like watching dinosaurs die.


5 Replies to “‘Team Players’ Are Killing Your Company”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jamie Farrell and Sean Masters, Josh Allan Dykstra. Josh Allan Dykstra said: New blog post: 'Team Players' Are Killing Your Company – excerpt from "Ignore Everybody" @gapingvoid http://wp.me/p9H4b-Kc […]

  2. Is this the part where creatives collectively stand up and yell “I’m mad as Hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!”? If that’s the case, then I’m glad to say that I think my organization is getting back into the right hands, lol. I think we have a long way to go yet, but I think the foundation is there now.

    In all seriousness though, it has been said that the 21st century belongs to the geek, and while I agree with that statement, I think it would be appropriate to say that it belongs to the geek, and to creative types. I think if you look at some of the more prosperous companies in America now you’ll see that they embracing elements of both, technology and creativity.

    • Hey Dom, you are totally right. Long live the nerds!

      A great book about this shift back to creativity and right-brain thinking is “A Whole New Mind” by Dan Pink.

    • Hey, thanks; I’ll have to look into that book! In addition to what I said earlier, I think what companies are looking for is creativity where you’re strong, don’t you think? I’ve been reading Blur and some of what you were saying in there has me thinking about how everybody is ‘an artist’ in some way. Basically, if you’re a realtor be a ‘creative realtor’, if you’re in sales, find a way to be creative in that, if you’re an accountant…well if you’re an accountant be creative within the limit of the law; you get the idea.

  3. That’s a great point! Everybody’s got their “thing,” and the goal, many times, is to find a way to reconnect our right brains to our daily activities.

    So much of our training through schools and organizations focuses on a single-side-of-brain approach (usually left, unless you’re in a “creative” field, then we give you a pass to be a “crazy artist” and you get to magically be exempt from normal expectations). We would be much better served learning how to approach our work in a “whole” new way.

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