In these days creativity is still a rare and underused skill! Why? Are you asking, or not!!! Well, a lot of reasons can be accountable for, among them are some old habits, routines or cultural aspects that very vivid in the managerial world are still strong inhibitors of creativity. In this post I would like to focus on something I consider a bad habit, cultural or not, something that inhibits heavily creative and innovatory processes. I would like to talk about labeling. Who has the syndrome of labeling everything?
Obviously, labels can be positive, it will always depend on what one is doing! If one is doing Market research, consumer behavior analysis or simply searching in the internet, labeling can be very useful in order to make sense out of an huge amount of information and data. Abnormally or not, the positive side of labeling coincides with its negative one. At the same time that labeling allows people to categorize and put similar stuff in a common drawer, it also eliminates uniqueness and reduces everything to a degree of similarity. By enclosing things inside drawers and boxes, not leaving them breathing nor trespassing to the neighbor, labeling avoids all the interaction and mixture between different aspects and leaves out all the creativity, innovation and outside-of-the-box effect. How can one allow the overuse of such a powerful uniforming tool in the era of differentiation and tailor made products? Creativity, innovation or even leadership need label-free environments, places where one can play around with concepts and ideas and think really outside of the box. Labels and preconceived ideas bring rigidity into processes leaving people with little ability to break barriers and try new things out, key aspect in the commencement of this 21st century.
On a different angle, I also believe that we live in a world with too much labeling and too less uniqueness! Where the first thing someone wants to do when meeting someone is to put her inside a drawer and labeling. Labeling can also be very negative when doing business and negotiating. When negotiating, please do yourself a favor and do not label people, otherwise you can end up losing the negotiation. By putting people inside drawers one is reducing the scope, missing the key information behind the obvious, blurring one’s sensibility and failing to truly understand everything involved. When negotiating, selling, doing business or leading, avoid labels, and drawers, and your likelihood of succeeding will rise exponentially.
Lessons learned, pay attention to overuse, misuse and wrong use of labeling (categorization, tagging…), it can harm your creativity, inhibit innovation, or damage your leadership and company.
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