50 Phrases that Kill Creativity

Sometimes an idea can be good, bad, unclear or just in its infant stages . How often do we ignore or put down ideas not our own? How often have we ignored ideas with huge potential because we failed to observe the bigger picture? Perhaps we were on autopilot and used one of the 50 Phrases that Kills Creativity below? Dave Dufour developed a list called Fifty Phrases that Kill Creativity in the late 80s, which resonates strongly to this day. In spaces where creativity, innovation and risk taking are not as valued, I would argue, are the exact spaces that need an injection of possibility, not constraint. Even if the first idea is not feasible or realistic, it might spark others that are, it might spark something out of the recesses of another persons mind that can contribute greatly to the task at hand. Understanding the list below can prepare you to not lose momentum or be discouraged because curiosity opens more doors than remaining where you are, or worse, regressing.

  1. Our place is different
  2. We tried that before.
  3. It costs too much.
  4. That’s not my job.
  5. They’re too busy to do that.
  6. We don’t have the time.
  7. Not enough help.
  8. It’s too radical a change.
  9. The staff will never buy it.
  10. It’s against company policy.
  11. The union will scream.
  12. That will run up our overhead.
  13. We don’t have the authority.
  14. Let’s get back to reality
  15. That’s not our problem.
  16. I don’t like the idea.
  17. I’m not saying you’re wrong but…
  18. You’re two years ahead of your time.
  19. Now’s not the right time.
  20. It isn’t in the budget.
  21. Can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
  22. Good thought, but impractical.
  23. Let’s give it more thought.
  24. We’ll be the laughingstock of the industry.
  25. Not that again.
  26. Where’d you dig that one up?
  27. We did alright without it before.
  28. It’s never been tried.
  29. Let’s put that one on the back burner for now.
  30. Let’s form a committee.
  31. It won’t work in our place.
  32. The executive committee will never go for it.
  33. I don’t see the connection.
  34. Let’s all sleep on it.
  35. It can’t be done.
  36. It’s too much trouble to change.
  37. It won’t pay for itself.
  38. It’s impossible.
  39. I know a person who tried it and got fired.
  40. We’ve always done it this way.
  41. We’d lose money in the long run.
  42. Don’t rock the boat.
  43. That’s what we can expect from the staff.
  44. Has anyone else ever tried it?
  45. Let’s look into it further.
  46. We’ll have to answer to the stockholders.
  47. Quit dreaming.
  48. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
  49. That’s too much ivory tower.
  50. It’s too much work.

creativity-takes-courage-henri-matisse-inspirational-quote In response to some of those, I either realize the following: this is not the space to proceed, I have to adjust my idea pitch, now is not the time, the team is not the right one, I ask open ended questions, I present arguments for the idea, or just go ahead with the idea if I’m passionate about it, I proceed if it’s realistic for me and not in contravention of my job. How do you overcome these phrases?

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