Did you see ‘The Apprentice’ where twelve hopefuls audition to work for Alan Sugar and a six figure salary? What a highly entertaining and illuminating television programme. I’ve been watching with a mixture of ‘how could they get that so wrong’ to ‘I’m so glad I’m not there’. The fifth episode brought to a head a subtext that has been bubbling under for the previous four weeks. All of the tasks have demanded a whole manner of skills such as leadership, perseverance, management and negotiation. But in all of the tasks from selling fruit and veg, designing a calendar for Great Ormand Street hospital, getting good deals, running a themed restaurant to producing an advertising campaign, both teams, especially the losing ones, have been let down by a serious lack of creativity.
It was never so obvious than in the fifth episode when Paul’s team had booked actors and studio time to film an advert for which they had no idea what it was. They actually spent five hours in the ‘Blue Sky Room’ at Satchi and Satchi only to come up with nothing.
Interesting then that after they knocked off for the night and went back to the house, Paul was visited by inspiration. It took a change of scenery and a more restful moment of silence and solitude for the idea to come.
A shame it wasn’t such a great idea. It was a start, but they didn’t have the time or inclination to think of anything else.
How come these so called ‘top entrepreneurs’ are so lacking in the ability to think of ideas? Creativity seems like an illusive mist to most people who think that having a ‘divergent phase’ with flip charts is what is needed. One of the reasons is that creativity is not a gift, it is a skill. Like any skill it has methods that need to be mastered. Like any skill the methods need to be practised. Just knowing the lines of a play aren’t enough. It’s the rehearsal that makes it work.
You can learn how to negotiate, how to project manage and how to sell. There are courses on all of those. You can practice those in your field of work. But as the Apprentice shows, don’t leave out creativity from the mix. Learn the techniques and use them to get the ideas to get ahead.
Think new thoughts. Find better ways of doing things. Find better things to do. That’s what people overlook. That’s what creativity is and that’s what Alan Sugar did to get where he is today.
And that’s magic.