A drunk driver is very dangerous. So is a drunk backseat driver if he’s persuasive. Demetri Martin
Perhaps it is the content I choose to read, but it seems that the corporate guru buzz on creativity and innovation has become an incessant squeal that demands all employers drag more creativity out of their employees. Well, finally, there is a definitive study that guarantees a way to obtain that additional creativity.
Get your employees drunk.
While many people would have opined that drinking increases creativity, Andrew F. Jarosz at the University of Chicago has proven it. In a study of intoxicated men, Jarosz demonstrates that functional creativity (solving problems in a non-algorithmic fashion) increases substantially when drunk.
Jarosz decided to perform the study after analyzing the literature on the many negative impacts drinking has on cognitive abilities. For example, drinking makes it harder to focus on routine skills (like driving a car or working on an assembly line or pushing a button at an appropriate time) and hampers the memorization of lists and inhibits performing algorithmic problem solving (if A then B, if not A then C). It was precisely these negatives to routine skills that Jarosz theorized would result in more creativity. The drunken behavior of a short attention span.
In order to be efficient, we need to ignore ‘external’ factors and focus on the factors we understand. In order to be creative, we need to embrace the external factors and ignore those we understand.
Putting aside the tongue-in-cheek thoughts of a drunken workplace, as fun as that might occasionally be, Jarosz has provided a much deeper challenge to corporate managers. Efficiency and creativity are opposites. You don’t have to be at the extreme of either, but to move towards one is to move away from the other.
Coupled with our understanding that some people are much more creative than others, if you want a large organization that knows it could BE different, then you are going to have to sacrifice the primary reason for having a large organization – efficiency by bureaucratization.