Who killed your creativity?

Dalibor Šumiga Behavioral marketing/Neuromarketing, Marketing

Imagine a pack of M&Ms…

Now imagine that you’ve eat all of the M&Ms… In what ways could you use the empty pack?

NASA conducted a similar test when they wanted to check how creative their experts are in observing and solving complex tasks. The test was actually very simple – the more different ways you think of how to use the empty pack, the more creative you are.

The creators of this test, scientists dr. George Land and Beth Arman decided to do the same test with children. On a sample of 1.600 children aged 4-5, 98 % of children had the results defined as “genius level”.

Five years later they repeated the test on the same sample – 30 % of the children reached the “genius level” again, and 5 more years later only 12 % of them did.

In the test they did with 25 years old examinees, only 2 % of them reached the “genius level”

If you already didn’t, you should watch one of the most viewed TED talks of all times called “Do schools kill creativity?”.

But the problem is not only in the education system; the restrictions we are being taught while growing up have an impact on our working environment.


Can you relate to this description – you are working in a successful company,  the job is good, the salary is safe, your company is well known, you have a cool office, you go to team buildings and attend additional courses… But, 70 % of your job is monotonous – reports, endless meetings and constant improvisation to do everything in time. You can’t remember when was the last time you created a great idea.

Did you identify with the description? This was a rhetorical question, of course. A large number of people will identify; I know, because I often talk to them.

What happened to your creativity? Your imagination? Did it disappear? Of course it didn’t, imagination can’t be destroyed, it can only be repressed. You settled to work inside the box, you entered the comfort zone and you told yourself “I’ve got too much to do already, no time to push this idea through; it will only bring me more work for the same salary”.

This mindset is completely wrong and it does more harm to you than to your employer. You willingly chose to be mediocre…


Before the education system and  working environment gets them and they become adults, children use their imagination and curiosity to the fullest. All until the restrictions begin; the first restrictions are “mom won’t let you”, then “teacher won’t let you” and at last “legal services won’t let you”…

Lethargic and indifferent after all those NOs you’ve heard in your life, you’ve just melted with your surroundings or even worse – you don’t want somebody to think you’re childish.

Let me tell you a story…

Many years ago I’ve worked on a big project where I got a task to create a communication script for call agents. The reason why script had to be changed was that it had very low rate of successful calls, only around 3 %. It was a B2B campaign, which for many means seriousness, professionalism…

After I’ve created an idea and presented it to my superiors, they refused it as too funny and banal.

Despite this, I went to the client myself and presented the idea. This was the client’s reaction: “Dado, I’m sorry, but this idea seems a bit infantile to me… Do you have anything else to offer?”

I said: “No, this is all I’ve got so far”.

The client was mad, but we were short with time and the project got green light. The rate of successful calls went from 3 % to 85 % and subsequently the sales increased for about 15 %.

The takeaway of this story isn’t “don’t listen to your superiors and your clients, do everything in your own way”, it’s that all of us, somewhere deep in ourselves, hide a curious and imaginative child; not only the ones who do creative work and create campaigns, but you and your customers, no matter if they’re B2B or B2C.

What now? How to reawaken your creativity?

01) Stop doubting before you try

Don’t pose yourself questions like “what will director or the legal service say” before you tried to present the idea.

02) Stop micro managing creative work

If you work in the field of marketing and you’re responsible for the content being published on social networks, blog and web, think twice if your subjective opinion is really a good filter for good creative work, considering that you haven’t got a chance to do something creative for a long time? Also, if you don’t believe your creative team, why did you hire them in the first place, if you have to check everything and spend your precious time?

03) Challenge yourselves – on a daily basis

Not only creative ideas, but your complete working environment. Find a better way to handle your emails; find a better way to be effective on the meetings; find a better way to pass information to your coworkers.

If you accept the fact that you’re not a child anymore and that the world has its clearly defined rules, that means you’ve killed your creativity for sure…