And the Greatest Enemy of Creativity and Innovation Is…


Patrick Lencioni makes the case very well in his article, The Enemy of Creativity and Innovation. Here’s a great part:

I’ve become convinced that the only way to be really creative and innovative in life is to be joyfully inefficient….

Efficiency requires that we subdue our passion and allow it to be constrained by principles of logic and convention. Innovation and creativity require us to toss aside logic and convention, even without the near-term promise of a payoff. Embracing both at the same time seems to me to be a recipe for stress, dissonance and mediocrity, and yet, that is exactly what so many organizations—or better yet—leaders, do.

They exhort their employees to utilize their resources wisely and to avoid waste and redundancy, which makes perfect sense. They also exhort them to be ever-vigilant about finding new and better products or processes, which also makes sense. And yet, combining these two perfectly sensible exhortations makes no sense at all, and only encourages rational, responsible people to find a middle ground, something that is decidedly neither efficient nor innovative.

This is why I don’t talk about efficiency a ton. It matters and has its place. But my goal is effectiveness, and often times the greatest path to effectiveness is quite inefficient.

More on this in my book.

  • Gloria Furman

    This is such an important subject not only in the workplace but in the “workplace” of housewives.

    How many times have I missed opportunities to creatively disciple my children, neglected fellowship with other women, and failed to enjoy my work in the name of Efficiency!

    Efficiency on its own leaves a nagging sense of dissatisfaction in its wake. Effectiveness, as I’ve heard you describe it, invites us to enjoy fulfillment in our work.

    Thanks for your reminders– they’re appreciated!