Why Creative Ideas Get Rejected – via David Burkus

If you feel like getting your creative ideas approved and accepted is a battle, new research suggests it may not be your fault.

Creative work that’s novel and different often goes head-to-head with our desire for certainty and structure. When that certainty is well…uncertain, our natural, inherent creativity bias can rear its ugly head.

We want creativity without the risk. Can we have our cake and eat it too when it comes to creativity and innovation?

To help our brains accept new ideas, this research and wonderful writing from Management Professor David Burkus gets us thinking about how we sell our ideas:

“We now know that regardless of how open-minded people are, or claim to be, they experience a subtle bias against creative ideas when faced with uncertain situations. This isn’t merely a preference for the familiar or a desire to maintain the status quo. Most of us sincerely claim that we want the positive changes creativity provides. What the bias affects is our ability to recognize the creative ideas that we claim we desire. Thus, when you’re pitching your creative idea, it may not be the idea itself that is being rejected. The more likely culprit could be the uncertainty your audience is feeling, which in turn is overriding their ability to recognize the idea as truly novel and useful.”

Regardless of how open-minded people are, they experience a subtle bias against creative ideas when faced with uncertain situations.”

To me, this research shares similarities with the work of David Rock and his S.C.A.R.F model of rewards and threats. When our certainty, the “C” in scarf'” is threatened we close down.

To break through, Burkus and Rock remind us to speak the language of those we are trying to persuade, make them look good by using empathy, listening, and perhaps most of all, patience.