THE BLOG

Creativity and Prosperity: Not as Incompatible as You Think

03/27/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

My friends in the entertainment industry who have presided over the virtual collapse of formerly revered and successful television networks have not themselves to blame as much as their misguided fealty to a concept which has become the blueprint the rest of the country's formerly respected, but now fecklessly run, institutions have followed.

It is the blueprint by which the Corporate Mentality stakes its exclusively profit-driven life upon.

And it is glaringly, tragically, inefficient.

And as is, it virtually ensures its own demise. And even for a strict, profit-driven capitalist, this doesn't seem like a very wise approach.

The blueprint is a model of economic efficiency, but only for a while. In the interest of saving dough, it excises elements deemed unnecessary and inexpedient, for Time, surely, is Money.

Ordinarily, this may be sound thinking. There are pie charts and bar graphs and polling numbers produced to support the actions taken by companies to demonstrate the profitability of streamlining and corner-cutting.

But in the realm of the arts, it is akin to manufacturing a machine that has no oil to ensure movement, no goal beyond the machine's creation itself which would enrich the life of the consumer.

In fact, it's like building a machine without the user of the in mind at all.

And as evidenced by the failure of our banking system, the mortgage and loan institutions, the failure of our government to govern with efficiency and care, the corporate approach is a failure because it doesn't take humans into its equation.

Time after time, this is apparent whenever a formerly respected and efficient agency (i.e., a television network) is subsumed by the corporate mentality and the formerly esteemed creative elements are marginalized, if not outright amputated.

And the irony becomes apparent as well: the institutions wither and die and the product churned out becomes an empty, disposable husk. The corporate approach to whom those executives have sworn their allegiance is akin to a pyramid scheme wherein the fellows at the top reap the rewards while those at the middle and bottom -- the viewers -- get shafted.

Why would people who pride themselves on efficiency and economy choose an approach so assured of failure?

Because they themselves posses no creativity.

Or they might have possessed it at one time, had it discouraged by some other frustrated individual who chose to capitalize on their own bitterness at being bereft of the creative impulse -- the human impulse, the one that gives meaning and inspiration to lives great and small. For the thing these brain trusts have overlooked in all their business schooling and pursuit of profit is the human element, the creative instinct, so mysterious and frightening; it is the creative impulse which is the enemy of soulless corporate efficiency, the impulse which animates the zombified simulacrums we have become.

Americans can certainly be accused of being easily herded to gather at whatever glittering watering holes their herders lead them to; and heaven knows they will drink. But in time they will also become bored and lazy and the product's profitability and efficiency wanes. And there are multitudes of examples where care has been taken in the creation of a product and how that care ensures a loyal and large consumer base. Creativity and profitability are not mutually exclusive.

Many of this country's problems might be solved or better understood if the very element which was so thoughtlessly removed as being extraneous and inefficient was restored, not only at television networks but in all aspects of business.

It was there long before humans put their faith in dollars and senselessness; the inventiveness and artistry of the American has been shunted aside and it's time to bring it center stage.