How to kill creativity, part 1

Edit: I recommend reading this article first and then watching the video afterwards. It will make more sense in this order. I first viewed this enlightening lecture on creativity by John Cleese (Monty Python) a few years ago. Since then, I saw an incredible progress in my problem-solving skills and generated countless creative ideas. John Cleese explains that creativity is not a talent. It is a way of operating. It is a facility of getting yourself into a particular mood. It is an ability to play with ideas, for no immediate practical applications. And it worked miracles for me. So now imagine a meeting in a company which aims to solve a problem. It typically has a fixed agenda, includes as many people as could be gathered and the solution has to be taken by the end of the meeting. These mistakes hinder creativity.


The agenda forces you into accomplishing a list of tasks, which is associated with the closed mode, the one in which creativity cannot be achieved. It’s alright if you need an update or get everyone on the same page, but not when you want a creative solution. I recommend splitting the meeting into a few of them, preferably 60-90 minutes each. State the problem at hand and start exploring solutions (not seeking them).

The wrong attitude

When solving problems, you need to bounce ideas back and forth.¬†Having too many people or people who dismiss each other’s ideas is not helpful. When you’re exploring possibilities and someone tells you that it’s ridiculous, you’re no longer in a mood to play. I recommend only inviting a handful of people to the meeting (no more than 5). Tell them not to be afraid to throw ideas, because no idea is wrong at this point. Tell them not to mock other ideas, since bad ideas can lead to good ones in the creative process.

Pressure for immediate solutions

Some problems are hard to solve and require additional pondering time. Pressuring for a decision leads to poor decisions. In the best case, you’ll be missing out on creative solutions because pressure always put people in a focused, closed mode. If the decision can be postponed without consequences, then give people some time to digest the ideas heard and reconvene another time. The meeting should remain an exploration until the time comes to actually making the decision.


Achieving creativity takes practice. Listen to the video and try to remember to switch into open mode when devising any sort of strategy. In the next part, I discuss precise ways in which I achieve better creativity.

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