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Does control smother creativity?

Aug 17, 2022 | Insights

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Don’t let creativity get smothered by control when you set out to make a difference and become involved in something bigger than yourself.
Flora and Ananke are both local florists specialising in creating arrangements for weddings. They know each other well. Although they compete for gigs, they also work together when the need arises, such as for exceptionally large or complicated wedding gigs.

However, working together gets a little complicated because they each have a different approach to flower arranging.

The creative and controlling approaches

Flora is creative and makes her mark by instinctively using colour and shape to fulfil the client’s brief. She ascertains the bride’s requirements, buys what she thinks she needs from the local flower market, picks greenery from local gardens and hedgerows and creates. Her arrangements are wild, fabulous and natural. They tend to make a deep impression and provoke rapturous appreciation from the bride and guests.

Ananke takes a different approach. She plans everything to the last detail. Flowers and greenery are costed and purchased to precisely fit a specific part of her arrangements. When she puts her arrangements together, it is more akin to following a plan in a building project than a creative act. Like Flora, Ananke is creative. However, her creativity is applied during the planning stage rather than the delivery stage of a wedding gig. Ananke’s arrangements are also applauded rapturously by her clients.

Flora and Ananke feel privileged to contribute to the special occasions in which they are a part, and their beautiful arrangements add something special to a wedding.

However, when Flora and Ananke work together, there can be friction. When Flora leads, Ananke feels she has no plan or direction to work on. Conversely, when Ananke leads, Flora feels she is just doing what she is told, and her creativity is smothered.

Are you doing it for yourself or others?

Creativity manifests itself in different ways. For example, there is a sense that Flora’s approach is centred on her client, doing what she can to make a difference and add to her client’s special day. Ananke’s approach, conversely, seems centred on the process and creating arrangements in a way that meets her drive to deliver rather than a way that is focused on the client’s special day.

Yes, we need a process and control when we set out to do something meaningful, but in Bernadette Jiwa’s words, “meaning is a competitive advantage” in its own right. Danger lurks below the surface when we over-focus on the process rather than making a difference.

Attributions and references

 Photo by Beatriz Pérez Moya on Unsplash

Jiwa, B. (2018). Story Driven: you don’t need to compete when you know who you are. Australia: Perceptive Press.

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