Why do enterprises stifle creativity?

Just a few enterprise axioms:

- Stuff must work consistently, regardless of who works there. 

- All data and programs must satisfy corporate audit requirements. 

- All data and programs must be backed up and restorable. 

- All technology must be supported, no matter what. 

I’ve seen all kinds of creative solutions to enterprise problems that didn’t satisfy these axioms. And you know what happens? Something goes wrong and no one knows what to do. 

That server under Joe’s desk with those cool spreadsheets just crashed and no one ever backed it up. The nifty little Ruby app that Sue put together; she’s gone and no one else knows Ruby. The open source web server just crashed and no one is to blame because there is no vendor to blame. The nine new kinds of smart phones that different sales guys like but no one knows how to support. 

It goes on and on. Creative people get creative. Cool solutions help. Until they don’t help anymore. Because the costs suddenly outweigh the benefits. 

And one more dirty little enterprise secret than many creative people overlook: you can solve most problems with many different tools. Sure the old tools may not be as fun, but they can still get the job done at a lower cost. 

In an ideal world, we’d get to work will cool stuff AND help the enterprise at the same time. But if the trade-off is our intellectual gratification vs. the enterprise’s profits, the enterprise will win every time; count on it.