Creativity and Age

Mark Andreessen has an interesting blog today on Age and the entrepreneur, part 1: Some data.

In this he discusses if age is a factor on entrepreneurship. I am interested in its more general form of ‘Is creativity affected by Age’ and he refers good scholarly work by a professor of psychology at University of California Davis named Dean Simonton .

My key personal takeaway from this.

creativity is a function of two underlying factors, enthusiasm and experience. Enthusiasm provides the motivational force behind persistent effort, yet enthusiasm in the absence of the second factor yields just original work. Experience gives the achiever the ability to separate wheat from chaff and to express original ideas in a more intelligible and persistent fashion. Yet experience in the absence of enthusiasm produces merely routine contributions. Genuine creativity requires the balanced cooperation of both enthusiasm and experience.

This is exactly what I have seen in my 10+ years of managing innovative project teams. When forming project teams responsible for great innovative work, make sure you have

  1. Young blood that is very enthusiastic, creative and bold to stand against opposition.
  2. Experienced people who are open to new ideas and are not rigid about hierarchy.
  3. Make sure project teams are flat in structure, don’t make yound people report to old people.
  4. In meetings, always make sure everyone point is heard, and create an environment where you enforce the benefits of experience without of the box thinking and give both equal weightage.

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