Michael Graber

Michael Graber is the managing partner of the Southern Growth Studio, an insight, innovation, and growth firm, and the author of "Going Electric." Learn more at

Let’s Grow: Fear of creativity limits opportunities

By Published: February 04, 2019 4:53 PM CT

I met Monica Kang at the Day of Innovation Conference in Indianapolis, where we were both presenters. Her approach to creativity was profound, awakening the better and forgotten parts of many of the people in her workshop.

I knew then that I’d have to interview her for this column. Since that time, she has published a book on her methods, “Rethink Creativity.”

This is part two of our conversation. Read part one here.

Part two in a two-part interview with Monica Kang, founder and CEO of InnovatorsBox and author of “Rethink Creativity.” Read part one here.

Q. How do you define creativity?

We are all creative in different ways. What inspires us to be creative, what we use to create, what we create with that inspiration, and how that creation impacts other people are all very different. However, when we are being genuinely creative, we are all in a similar mindset where we’re curious, eager to solve problems, and free of judgment as we make something new out of nothing.

Q. What is the value of creativity?

The value of creativity is priceless. We need it on a global level to solve our greatest challenges and on a personal level to live fuller lives since it’s such a fundamental part of who we are. Creativity gives us the lens we need to see the world as one full of opportunities, not dead ends.

Why do we need to rethink creativity, as both a culture and in the world of commerce?

We must rethink creativity because society’s limited definition of creativity as an exclusive trait reserved for artists is hurting our perception of what we can do in the world and in the workplace.

According to Gallup, 89 percent of the global workforce feels like they are stuck at work and lack a creative outlet. Only 18 percent of professionals feel safe risking trying something new at work.

Most of us feel uncreative and are unable to tap into our creative gifts, talents and curiosity in our lives. How many employees are discouraged to speak up because being creative does not align with their company? How many students graduate believing they are not creative because they are not artistic?

Can you explain why creativity is a group activity?

Groups influence the way we think about creativity because we are social beings. We learn about what we should and shouldn’t do based on how others act, judge and reward us. When we see more people sharing new ideas and being rewarded, then we will be more willing to share our own ideas.

As Albert Einstein said, creativity is contagious. When someone shares their creativity, we are more likely to want to be creative.

Companies should think carefully about not only what they say, but also what their teams feel encouraged and discouraged to do.

What is the role of constraints and challenges for creativity?

When used well, constraints are a great way to encourage creativity. It is hard to be creative without constraints because you have no limit. Using constraints such as time, resources and budget push you to think differently and solve problems in new ways.

The unpredictable element of creativity makes us fear it. We need to recognize our instinct to fear creativity is understandable. Why would we bother doing something differently if we have no guarantee of getting the result we want?

It takes courage to take a risk and think differently when we naturally want to stick with what we know works. We need to fight our fear of creativity because it limits us to change the status quo or improve the world around us. Instead of fearing consequences, we should understand where can comfortably test new ideas at home and at work.


Let's Grow Monica Kang

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