Finding creativity should be priority

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Finding creativity should be priority


Insightful analysts say, “Promising companies have a different air.”

I can’t agree more. As I covered various businesses, I developed my own sixth sense. For example, when I visit a company that is known to be struggling, I see several reasons why.

But the most obvious feature is excessive homogeneity. People dress alike and have the same mannerisms and expressions. Different employees handle their jobs the same way.

Such observations indicate a company’s culture has become too bureaucratic and rigid, and the employees themselves are unaware of it.

The company would not hire the kind of people who would sense this problem in the first place. Or if hired, they would be unable to tolerate the culture and leave. They are what we call creative types.

Two years ago, I interviewed some of the most creative minds in business: Dennis Hwang, chief webmaster at Google; Professor Yeonseung at the KAIST Graduate School of Culture Technology, Jeong Ji-hoon, professor of convergence medicine at Kwandong University; Shin Hoon, director at NCsoft; and Jeon Yeong-ok, director of the Urban Environment Research Institute.

There were similarities among them. As teenagers, they were madly into something, from music to art to computers. In college, many switched majors, with the prime consideration being what was “fun.” They were obsessed with new things and often acted impulsively.

But what surprised me most was the fact that they all got into the most prestigious universities.

How did they do it when they were immersed in their passions? Things may have been different some 20 years ago; however, getting into a top school has never been easy in Korea.

While they were truly the chosen ones, many other talented youths are frustrated.

Yonsei University launched the “creative talent admission” this year, and it has been a success. Forty students were chosen based on in-depth interviews and documented talents. High school academic grades were not considered.

Professor Kim Dong-no, who initiated the selection process as the dean of admissions last year, said the school had detected a sense of crisis as students become increasingly homogenous and standardized.

Yonsei University’s goal is to find “lazy geniuses” with creative ideas and turn them into “hard-working geniuses.”

*The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
By Lee Na-ree
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