Creative vs Smart

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Every organization has both smart and creative people. Most people confuse them for being one of the same. But trust me they are vastly different. Understanding how to use them in the workplace is the key. Because having too many creative people can be a little too much chaos for an organization. While having too many smart people will kill innovation within an organization. You have to understand the dynamic between being creative vs smart. Understanding this difference will allow you to better utilize the individuals within your organization to increase efficiency. In fact, this will help lead you to build a more innovative culture that will help your organization grow in a positive direction. Both definitely have their pros and cons. So, let’s discuss what those are.


Being a creative person is always super flashy and we revere the most creative among us. For good reason, I might add. These creative people are what encourage innovation. The new cool thing, with that sleek design, is what people flock to. These individuals have shaped the world into what we see today. From Benjamin Franklin, Da Vinci, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Elon Musk of the world. We absolutely are awe-struck by these individuals and strive to re-create what they do on a daily basis.

A big part of being creative is looking at a 50/50 decision and knowing that no matter what happens you’ll come out with a positive outcome. Seeing, that you are a creative person you’ll take that 50/50 decision every time. Even if there are better odds out there.

But there is a dark side to being creative. These creative individuals are the mavericks in your organization who do not play well with rules. They take a large number of calculated risks and love causing trouble. If left unchecked they can run a muck of an organization. There is definitely a balance. We will discuss the other half that acts as a counterbalance, which is the smart individuals in your organization.


Being smart is often always confused with being creative and I will say that is not the case at all. Being smart, unlike being creative, you look to put yourself in the position to make decisions based on the best odds. Typically, 70/30 and above. Which is way safer and easier to stomach than 50/50 odds. This allows your organization the ability to stabilize and maintain standards. Still growing but not too fast.

Creative vs Smart

Again, this like being creative can be a good thing, but it can also be a bad thing as well. Typically, smart individuals are more risk-averse than creative individuals within your organization. They will not take the chance of starting a project that has a good chance of making them look bad. Which will kill innovation.

When both being Creative and Being Smart is Useful

Having the ability to work with both creative and smart individuals in your organization will help you not only grow and innovate but also maintain standards to continue to stay alive. This is how most big corporations stay alive and innovate. Some examples of these corporations include Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Google, etc. These organizations have mastered putting smart individuals in middle manager positions to maintain current productions. While developing more efficient standards for subtle improvements.

These companies have also put creative individuals in places where they can thrive and grow innovative products in a creative environment. They are the engine that allows a company to expand and grow pasts it’s current limits.

Trying to find who is what is the most difficult part. But one good way to identify who is what is to put out challenges. The individuals who find a new way to do something and continuously try to find new avenues rather than improving what’s already there are your creators. The ones who find subtle improvements to products or processes are your smart individuals. Once you find these individuals, feed each one with resources that will grow and evolve both the creator and the smart individuals within your company.


The battle of creative vs smart is an intriguing one. One, because going too far in either direction can hinder your organization and ruin it. Two, it shows how both types of individuals are vastly different. Though there are a specific few that can be both (much like the entrepreneurs mentioned above), many are either one or the other. Understanding how to put both in the position to succeed requires you as the leader to be the one that is able to be both creative and smart. If you believe that is unfair, well that’s why only a few have ever mastered this well. But that shouldn’t stop you from continuing to try and make a difference!

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