It’s terrible what a lack of discrimination (in the word’s original sense of possessing the judgement and discernment ability to see or make fine distinctions) can do to a man. (Or, no doubt, to a woman.) Last night I found myself watching The Science of the Young Ones, where a motley selection of the more elderly type of celeb were assembled in a 1970s house (lots of orange, patterned everything) and removed from all those associative triggers that have been whispering into their discreet hearing aids that they are old. The theory was that they’d feel – and act – younger. I’m obviously of the wrong generation for the experiment:I couldn’t stop recalling Oscar Wilde’s deathbed comment that “”My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or other of us has to go”. But the evidence – from Harvard professors, no less – was that the celebrities were indeed rejuvenated by the experience.

Once the world stopped telling them they were old (and not just in words, but in stereotypical images, TV characters, stair-lift adverts and so on), they stopped feeling so old. Given more control over their self-image and freed from a constant negative background babble, they regained valuable aspects of themselves. Mental agility and recall improved. One walked unaided having previously been in a wheelchair.  And Lionel Blair choreographed on the stage of The Palladium for the first time in 30 years. (You win some, …)  


I’ve shared office space with opera singers, sculptors, concert pianists, jewellery designers and a man fluent in seven languages, including Mandarin. None of the jobs I was in at the time was ‘creative’, and these specific skills may have been hard – languages aside – to call upon in company service, but recognizing and supporting ‘creativity’ in the workplace does seem to be a neglected issue. I first got reminded how much I dislike the work-oriented tendency to define ‘creativity’ as ‘problem-solving’ (with a heavy undertone of ‘cost saving’) a few weeks back by a post at one of our favourite blogs: HR Bartender.

Calling on a dictionary for moral support, Sharlyn Lauby reminded her readers that innovation is the introduction of a new idea, method etc., while creativity is the ability to produce through imaginative skills. Innovation may sometimes be brave, but in chronological terms innovation is the egg to creativity’s chicken. While the sceptics can offer their own ‘curate’ jokes at this point, let’s be clear: eggs don’t lay themselves. And in this particular metaphorical farmyard, you hire the chickens. (Whether you find “Q: Who came first? – A: The recruitment consultant” funny or not is your own affair, ok?)



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