For the past few years I have had a survey on the front page of my website. I ask one simple question ‘What is the MAJOR factor that hinders creativity within your organisation? The options available are strategic barriers, organisational culture, corporate culture, process/structure, learning capacity, leadership/management. The answers lead me to ask myself ‘Is nothing changing?’

Apart from the early days when the sample size was not large enough, the results have changed very little. At the time of writing the results are as follows:

  • Strategic barriers 6.36%
  • Organisational culture 28.18%
  • Corporate culture 13.64%
  • Process/structure 12.73%
  • Learning capacity 4.55%
  • Leadership/management 34.55%

In my view, the two interesting points are the extremes. Very few people were highlighting strategic barriers (filtering, mindsets, risk profile etc) or the ability for their organisations to learn when these are potentially huge issues for an organisation embracing Creativity and/or Innovation. Also, since we have seen a global recession and financial crises, I would have expected these percentage figures to change as a result of ‘digging in’ during a crisis or through loss of capacity due to downsizing.

It is not a surprise that over 34% of respondents blame Leadership and Management. Whether or not senior figures really are to blame, they are always likely to be a scapegoat. Once again I would have expected the results to change in troubled times. The biggest surprise of all is the number of people who selected organisational culture as the major factor that hinders creativity.

Organisational culture is organic and is largely down to the employees. Even when a company is strict rather than benevolent, organisational culture tends to triumph. Have we not all heard of people banding together in the face of adversity? People are not saying that the culture is bad, just that it hinders creativity! Puzzling, so what does this mean? Without asking more searching questions (find out about our Innovation toolkit to get this information) we can’t really say why these results are not changing when we expect them to, although one possibility is that the reasons behind the figures have changed.

Finally, as well as being blamed directly, senior managers are also indirectly responsible for culture and structure. If your company had figures such as this and had troubles with creativity and innovation related issues then I would definitely want to do some digging. The chances are, a change of personnel is required somewhere!!

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