Does boredom inspire creativity?

Wally (Dilbert)

Dilbert didn't follow a blueprint. Image via Wikipedia

Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, writes a piece in the Wall Street Journal in which he argues that boredom breeds creativity. Check it out here (with WSJ subscription).

He has an odd way of explaining his point at times, and saying that books, movies and businesses are becoming less creative is probably not accurate. However, we think he is on to something. While reading this piece, all I could think of are people that scurry around and are very busy, yet just don’t seem to be effective.

I noticed that when I don’t have any urgent tasks, I learn things, work on something important – but not urgent – that I have neglected, or think about how to solve a complex problem. Big lists of stuff tend to draw our attention away from the important stuff.

Leaders, too, sometimes focus on the wrong things…many times minutiae that don’t actually have any impact on anything important.  There is a cost to everything that we do, which is why it is so important to have (and trust) talented people around us.

Once we have those talented people, another important part of leadership is to encourage creative thinking. Making creativity to conform to our own worldview, blaming/second guessing, or being overly critical leads people to, over time, take the path of least resistance. No one can be blamed for producing a vanilla output in this type of environment.

Good advice from an unconstrained mind.


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