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Subject:FW: Creativity From:"Race, Paul" <pdr -at- CCSPO -dot- DAYTONOH -dot- NCR -dot- COM> Date:Wed, 16 Nov 1994 03:04:00 EST
>Paul Race wrote:
>> So given no restraints, I create something entirely new every
>>few days. ....
>Lisa Baker wrote:
>I think Paul's key phrase here is "given no restraints." Perhaps
>the most difficult thing about technical communication is that
>THERE ARE RESTRAINTS be it page count, development tools,
>delivery tools, production costs, or package costs. I think the
>trick to being creative "successfully" is to first realize the
>restraints, then use your creativity to solve the problem within
Paul Race answers:
Should I have said, "given no restraints except for such technical issues as
page count, development tools, delivery tools, production costs, or package
No, those things don't hinder creativity. Working to overcome logistical or
technical issues is no big deal, and sometimes it's a lot of fun. After 15
years in this line, I have a wealth of experience with work-arounds, etc. to
overcome what you apparently consider to be potential restraints to
For that matter, political pressures, hind-sighted bosses, dyed-in-the-wool
thinking etc., don't hinder creativity, either. What they do is frustrate
the bejeebers out of me when managers "grade" their employees on creativity,
but aren't equipped to recognize a truly original idea when they hear it.
When everything I suggest is immediately rejected as ludicrous, only to be
adopted as the standard process after I've left the organization. But in
the meantime, my boss says things like, "Gee Paul, you ought to take a more
heads-up view of things, you know, show some originality." And the guy who
figures out how to save the company $50 a year by not printing two banner
pages for every job the laser printer spits out winds an award.
One little example. Seven or eight years ago, I went to the head of a
department that was spending in excess of $250,000 a year in typesetting
charges. I explained to the manager that I could save him five times my
salary and benefits if he would put me on the project, and put about ten
grand into DTP software and hardware. To prove my case, I even did up a
version of one of the pages of his manual, laid it side-by-side with the
original and begged him to tell me which was which. He couldn't, but he
told me earnestly that he had it on the "best" authority that typesetting
was infinitely better than desktop publishing for getting that "professional
appearance." He was apparently embarrassed by my foolish claims to the
contrary, and by no means was he going to hire somebody who could hold such
Of course, several years later, I found that his department was running
exactly the solution I suggested, and he has bragged to his boss that he's
saved the company $200,000 a year in typesetting charges. Gee, I wonder
where he thought of that!
I can give you seven or eight more stories off the top of my head, where one
of my "ideas" was rejected outright, then later claimed as the boss's own as
soon as I left the room. One happened last week, about four days after the
same boss told my supervisor I wasn't going to get a promotion this year,
because I don't "think far enough ahead."
The big irony is, I don't mind somebody else sharing in the credit, or even
taking it! What I do mind is the same person telling me to be more
"creative" on the job, and rewarding the F&A types whose work they better
understand for almost unmeasurable improvements in their processes, etc.
You see, I'm not whining about not getting recognized, not getting rewarded,
etc. I'm simply saying that its frustrating to work for bosses who demand
"originality" but can't deal with new ideas they didn't come up with
paul -dot- d -dot- race -at- daytonoh -dot- ncr -dot- com