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Published January 27, 2016

Author Eric Weiner wrote a piece that appeared in the Chicago Tribune recently arguing, “Want creativity, boss? Knock off the coddling.” But the suggestion that employees will become more creative if they are denied access to things that are fun is fundamentally wrong.

Weiner contends that we are living in “the Decade of Perks” and says companies may be making a crucial error in providing comforts, play and other distractions if they want more creativity out of their employees.

He writes: “Although well-intentioned CEOs assume the best way to foster creativity is to remove all obstacles, considerable evidence suggests the opposite is true.” He cites genius born in places far from comfortable: Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak developing Apple Computers out of a garage; Thomas Edison, Claude Monet and Aldous Huxley creating masterpieces of invention while afflicted with a variety of illnesses.

Weiner has this right: a key source of creativity is discomfort. I’ve often said, no one goes into the arts because they are well-adjusted.

But the suggestion that employees will become more creative if they are denied access to things that are fun is fundamentally wrong.

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