In an effort to create a culture of greater innovation, we tend to celebrate, even mythologize outsider thinkers both in internal and external communications. The famous Think Different campaign is of course a prime example. And there are dozens of books from various perspectives about how to create more creative/innovative cultures from The Pirate Inside, The Designful Company, Outliers, but when we celebrate unleashed creativity we tend to forget, among other things, how hard these people are to work with.
In any case, here's my response:
Interesting, provocative post. Fuller’s line is great In my darker frames of mind, I prefer Beckett’s grim outsider fortitude (”We can’t go on. We must go on. We’ll go on” or Kafka’s bleak optimism (”Of course there’s hope. Just not for us.”) And I cite those two example for a reason; lots, many, if not most great artists and thinkers are unrecognized or even scorned during their lives. Germany didn’t got over failing to appreciate Mozart, until they had bigger things to be ashamed of. Truly original artists and thinkers tend to challenge the status quo. Not within the system–doing a viral campaign rather than a TV effort–but by absolutely refusing to work in the system at all. Justice Souter comes to mind. How many men or women would have the balls to tell the Supreme Court to screw themselves, describing his seasonal time on the supreme court as his yearly “intellectual lobotomy”? Most of us love the rewards and satisfactions collegial respect, success, money, etc.(myself in included) too much to gamble everything on our kooky personal visions. And these guys and gals tend not to be very good “team players,” as they say in the trade. It’s a deep structural problem which your post calls attention to, reflected in our culture of commentary and constant recycling. And it’s one that all creative industries (basically all industries now) are facing: How do we balance the needs of organizational efficiency and structure with the freedom to include really loopy geniuses (who are very hard to distinguish from the merely loopy anyway). My own sense is that real outsider thinkers (Fuller, Gould, Pynchon) will never play along or play for long enough to help a business achieve its goals without causing all kinds of collateral damage. That’s why we love them right? As the post above says: we want to be inspired by them; but do we want to work with them? Google’s famous 20% time model is one approach, but I doubt that someone like Fuller would bother to show up at the office to begin with.