Why is managing the creative process so difficult?
The ever-brilliant Malcolm Gladwell, in the New Yorker article, offers:
The psychologist Dean Simonton argues that this fecundity is often at the heart of what distinguishes the truly gifted. The difference between Bach and his forgotten peers isn’t necessarily that he had a better ratio of hits to misses. The difference is that the mediocre might have a dozen ideas, while Bach, in his lifetime, created more than a thousand full-fledged musical compositions. A genius is a genius, Simonton maintains, because he can put together such a staggering number of insights, ideas, theories, random observations, and unexpected connections that he almost inevitably ends up with something great. “Quality,” Simonton writes, is “a probabilistic function of quantity.”
Simonton’s point is that there is nothing neat and efficient about creativity. “The more successes there are,” he says, “the more failures there are as well”—meaning that the person who had far more ideas than the rest of us will have far more bad ideas than the rest of us, too. This is why managing the creative process is so difficult.
This jives with what Tim Harford says in Adapt. And as to why creative people often have problems inside large corporations, Gladwell writes:
Someone was always trying to turn his tap off. but someone had to turn his tap off: the interests of the innovator aren’t perfectly aligned with the interests of the corporation. Strakweather saw ideas on their own merits. Xerox was a multinational corporation, with shareholders, a huge sales force, and a vast corporate customer face, and it needed to consider every new idea within the context of what it already had.