Creativity Vs Efficiency

“What is more important – Creativity, or Efficiency”?

I recently got asked this question at a job interview.

I responded without even thinking twice.

Creativity.

To which the next obvious question was , “How come”?

I would say it was one of those impulsive answers, in situations when you don’t really have time to list down the pros and cons of the two options you’ve been given. But then that is the best thing about such impulsive answers. You don’t answer what you think sounds good, rather, you answer what comes to you instantly.

In my case, I said creativity matters more than efficiency, for one simple reason. First and foremost, let’s define creativity. As Google says, Creativity is the use of imagination or original ideas to create something; inventiveness.And rightly said so. In the 21st century, creativity, specifically in the business & start-up world,  isn’t just synonymous to being artistic. Rather, I’d say the term innovative is much closer. Creativity implies how well you come up with new fixes, hacks, solutions to old problems. How you visualize answers to questions which have gone unanswered, even unobserved. Creativity isn’t just the mouthpiece of the painter, the dancer or the writer, but equally so of every agile, logical and solution-driven individual, especially where the problem-solver angle is concerned.

A classic case that comes to my mind is that of Uber. As an idea- it seems pretty simple. A tech-driven aggregator for on-demand taxis. Yet, an uncomplicated idea that revolutionized taxi travel across the globe.  But if it really was so easy, why didn’t we all think of it? A similar case with AirBnb. A platform to allow people to rent out their homes, when they’re vacant, and make some money on the side, another opportunity few people recognized. And why didn’t we observe it, when the problems at hand weren’t exactly hidden, but visible for everyone to actively notice?

The answer is simple – creativity.

The way I see it, the founders of these groundbreaking startups (and many more like them), saw the big-picture problem, and using their imaginative minds, backed with solid reasoning, logic and research,  came up with solution in the form of a business idea. And then, to make it all succeed, introduced efficiency into the process. Efficiency, which when mentioned in business context denotes, organization, orderliness, planning, regulation and orderliness. In my eyes, Efficiency is the key driver of the process without which moving ahead is impossible. Creativity, however, is the initiator. The solution-driver. The idea-generator The newer, different path to what may be possibly be the same destination. It may sound like a chicken-and-egg situation, but I’d say that creativity precedes efficiency, as the starter of the cycle of change.

Additionally, makes creativity so special is that at least today, unlike efficiency, it can’t be automated. Creativity still remains a premium quality of the human brain. And fortunately, for creative individuals, there’s never been a better time to add value to business processes. As design -thinkers. As storytellers. As content-creators. And lots more. Creative, wandering, out-of-the-box thinking minds, not always bound my logic, analysis and reason. And something tells me that this appreciation of human creativity only just started.

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