Who Killed Creativity? How Can We Get Creativity Back?


Creative Ideas for Innovation in Business and Beyond


Mar 2nd, 2016

Defeating divisive forces on the US continent

Mexico has been a popular news topic lately – and not always for the best reasons, with Donald Trump vowing to build a wall to keep Mexicans out of the US. We spent some time in the country recently, and we were reminded of how many challenges the US’s closest Central American neighbour has had to face.

Mexico is a country that for decades has faced both internal and external divisive forces. The guerra contra el narcotráfico en México (Mexican war against drugs) has had tangible negative effects on both the populous and economy. Paradoxically, the poverty that both causes and is caused by this violent market has driven Mexicans to desperate measures. We shared in our book Who Killed Creativity?, about how, after we first visited Mexico City 25 years ago, we discovered that the urban problems are often pushed to the edges of one of the world’s most populated cities in the western hemisphere, quite literally. Just outside Mexico City is an enormous population of people who literally lives on four separate rubbish tips at each of the four corners of the city.[1] A whole community of people rely on the tip for food and recyclables to sell. Children play in waste.

However, oddly enough it is from this seemingly depressing place that incredible innovations emerge. The rubbish that has been discarded by others is recycled for cash. Residents have created houses and streets, swept free of garbage. For food, ‘gardens’ are made by planting seedlings in tin cans and salsa jars. Kids, though playing in rubbish, take the opportunity to make toys from what they can find lying around. Ironically, children in wealthier neighbourhoods can access readymade toys easily, but lose out on the creative thought-making process of adaptation, thus developing differently. Although it would be flippant to state that this is an ideal situation for anyone, let alone children, it is interesting to note this adaptation that allows for survival and even enjoyment.

This kind of paradox of negative and positive experience, and the subsequent creation of opportunity, arguably extends to the national level. Despite worries of future policy conflict between America and Mexico, the US’s third biggest trade partner (spoiler: conflict from potential Republican nominee, Donald Trump!) Mexico continues to pursue positive relations. According to President Enrique Peña Nieto’s chief of staff, Aurelio Nuño Mayer, efforts were being made to speak with the presidential nominees about the benefits of continuing to pursue bilateral ties.[2]

The negative experience of the anti-Mexican speech by Trump apparently had one benefit – spurring on the Mexican government to lead a well-publicized PR campaign on the benefits of continued relations! Consider, when has a seemingly negative situation produced a positive result? To an undesirable situation, creative adaptation is the best method of ensuring success!

InThink>Biz Editorial Team

March 3, 2015

Andrew Grant and Gaia Grant are the directors of Tirian, and authors of the breakthrough book ‘Who Killed Creativity?… And How Can We Get it Back?: Seven essential strategies for making yourself, your team and your organisation more innovative’.http://www.tirian.com/articles/leadership-task-performance/how-can-leadership-teams-find-innovative-solutions-to-sustainability-challenges/
Kate Bettes has the role of Executive Support at Tirian. She is completing a degree in international relations and aspires to be a writer on current issues.


[2] http://mexiconewsdaily.com/news/mexico-will-reach-out-to-u-s-candidates/

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