Right Brainers Unite! The Industrial Revolution is over and one of its last remnants, measurable data, is being used as a blunt instrument to keep us in check. People are not machines and efficiency experts have had their day. The only reason creative types don’t rule the world? Because we don’t have the charts and graphs to prove that we should. Left brainers have the power because they have us convinced that everything worthwhile can be measured, proven and graphed: no organization makes a move without “data.” Here’s the problem: they can’t graph the important stuff (like inspiration)and left brainers, who mainly look backwards, know they are all in danger of being replaced by the next version of IBM’s Watson.
Managers worry about efficiency, Leaders affect change. It is time for the Creative Class to rise up and overthrow the tyranny of left brain, backward looking, data gathering, green eye shade wearing, uninspired, paper clip counting, rule book writing, cubical dwelling, unimaginative bean counters.
My favorite part of my Sunday service at St. Lukes United Methodist Church here in Orlando comes at the very end. No, not because the service is over, but because we all hold hands across the aisles and sing a blessing. I close my eyes and I am literally raised up (yes, I know what literally means). I feel spirit, communion and the presence of God.
How would the left brainers measure that one? How would they put determination, loyalty and genius in the next budget?
This discussion comes up frequently in my house, my bride of 25 years works for the Florida Department of Education and she is a data coordinator. She measures things. (In the interest of self preservation, she does a LOT more than that!) I have decided that my life mission, for what life is left, is to encourage revolt, a Creative Revolution. I plead guilty to the uttering the following words in my corporate workshops:
“In every organization there are poets, philosophers and artists who have slipped past the suits in human resources. These are your innovators, your creators, your entrepreneurs, your leaders. The trouble is this, we love science, we love to PROVE things with numbers. That’s why the left brain, pie chart loving, budget making, risk adverse, pocket protector wearing, politically correct managers have all the power. They have convinced us that you can quantify EVERYTHING. Only, you can’t. You can’t quantify faith, perseverance, imagination, inspiration and creativity.”
And, that is the problem. Numbers are useful, getting on a scale gives you ONE indication of your health, but only one. Numbers give you a peek, but not a vision. We have let the green eye shade crowd have too much power. One of the remnants of the Age of Reason is this reliance on the measurable, on the idea that we believe NOTHING that we cannot prove. Inspiration can’t be measured and hunches are not considered good reasons for making decisions. We measure EVERYTHING, as if more data will give us more answers. More data only gives us a better view of the past.
As artists, this is the place to make our stand. RIGHT HERE: We should re-affirm spirit, we should respect inspiration, we should realize that the moment we try to quantify the unquantifiable we are trying to put limits on something that has no limits. Nature is not bound by such limits. We cannot measure creation. Give an artist the ability to use money as one of the colors on his palette and you don’t call him an artist anymore, you call him an entrepreneur. You know what? He is no less an artist. We have to wrestle management away from the accountants, lawyers and bureaucrats and restore leadership to people who can look FORWARD.
One of my business heroes is the late Steve Jobs, founder of Apple. He eschewed customer research (and data):
“Mr. Jobs’s own research and intuition, not focus groups, were his guide. When asked what market research went into the iPad, Mr. Jobs replied: “None. It’s not the consumers’ job to know what they want.” (NY Times 10/11/11).
Creatives, its time to stand up for ourselves! It’s time to say that inspiration, creativity and plain old gut feelings count as much as charts and graphs. Let the bean counters count beans, that’s all they know how to do. Let’s rise above and take the world on, one inspiration at a time!