poptrumpToday the world is a bit more nervous than it was yesterday. The new POTUS brings with him policies and attitudes and opinions that make millions of people feel deeply uncomfortable. But I’m going to try to keep my views of Donald Trump out of this article and take a quick look at what he and his policies could mean for the world of creativity instead. That’s the focus of Open for Ideas, after all.

The topic of idea-generation is a complex one that’s affected by psychology, culture, assumptions, legislation and lots of other factors. Looking at it from various angles, Trump will have both negative and positive impacts on the world of ideas.

This is bigger than one man

Trump is just the most prominent figurehead for the spirit of the age. The UK’s Brexit is another manifestation. As is the rise of the extreme right in Europe and some troubling political situations all across the globe.

Trump is just the most prominent figurehead for the spirit of the age

What characterises most of this is a growing distrust of ‘others’ and a frustration with the ineffectiveness of government. Because if I can find the exact genre of adult videos I’m looking for in two clicks, why does it take politicians years to achieve nothing of any consequence?

However, today belongs to Trump. So let’s have a look at what he stands for and how that could affect the field of creativity.

But first, what does he actually stand for?

The one thing that has remained constant is that he’s an isolationist

This isn’t actually that easy to pin down. Over the last year, he’s regularly contradicted himself, given birth to the post-truth era and already U-turned on some of his election promises. But the one thing that has remained constant is that he’s an isolationist.

His Mexican wall and anti-Islamic rhetoric are the most obvious evidence of his mistrust of foreigners. But what is likely to have a more tangible effect on foreign relations is his stance against free-trade. A move away from free trade will have a knock-on effect for the free movement of people. And that has a knock on effect for creativity.

Trump will have both negative and positive impacts on the world of ideasClick To Tweet

Less mingling means less tingling

You know that lovely feeling you get when you have a great idea at work? You may experience less of that. There are a number of powerful pieces of research that reveal how diversity has a significant impact on group creativity. When you’re working with the same people from the same culture with the same understandings on an ongoing basis, the output suffers. On the flip side, just having a bunch of strangers working together also sucks. There’s a sweet spot in the middle where a balance of diversity and familiarity unlocks great thinking.

If the US is going to become less welcoming to the international community, it will end up with less-diverse perspectives being applied to thinking. That places the country at a disadvantage in the international arena.

Oppression creates artistic heroes

Trump has shown real admiration of authoritarian leaders and commented on brutal dictators being effective. He’s been repeatedly hostile to minorities and made jibes at the disabled. His style of management hasn’t exactly been democratic or open-minded. So his presidential style is likely to be similarly divisive and intolerant.

Oppression fuels individual creativity

On the plus side, oppression fuels individual creativity. In dark times, artists, musicians, playwrights, comedians and film-makers tend to thrive as they create pieces that speak out against injustice. Maybe we should expect another high-point for American music. And maybe Hollywood will start producing films that aren’t just sequels or book adaptations. (Please, please, please, please please!)

Innovation thrives on collaboration

Many innovative products are the result of massive international collaboration. The iPhone alone has over 200 suppliers in dozens of countries. If international trade becomes more troublesome, these products become harder to make. Trump says that he wants to bring manufacturing back to the United States and has been openly talking to Apple about manufacturing more stuff in the country. As much as he can offer tax breaks for that, it has a deeper impact.

Apple may have deep enough pockets to build factories and hire and train the best talent. But it makes it harder for the small guys who can’t necessarily get the cash to set up a US manufacturing plant for their new doohickey. Getting a new idea off the ground is hard enough without having more obstacles placed between you and a final product.

Binary, knee-jerk decision-making kills the interesting ideas

New ideas live in the land of maybe

If you’ve ever watched Trump in full flow on the Apprentice, you’ll see that he’s either ‘yes’ or ’no’ – right or wrong. There’s no “That’s interesting. Let’s try it and see if it works”. And that’s where many of the best ideas live. This kind of binary, knee-jerk decision-making kills the interesting ideas, whether you’re in government, business or at home.

He gives the population permission to act in a certain way

Fear is a red light

The President becomes a role model for the future of his nation. He gives the population permission to act in a certain way, whether that is benevolently and intelligently or with sweeping prejudice and aggression. Going by the way that Trump acted during the run-up to the election – and constantly on Twitter – his influence is one that will only generate more fear and anger amongst both his supporters and opponents. And fear is the biggest killer of creativity.

Change equals opportunity

Wherever there is change, upheaval and uncertainty there are opportunities to grab. And Trump will most definitely be making changes at every level of American society as well as altering international trade. The smart thinkers will spot the opportunities use them to create businesses, jobs and social change.

So, whether you’re against him or for him, keep your eyes open for those changes, use your imagination to turn them into opportunities and let’s together make the world a better place.

Smart thinkers will spot the opportunities use them to create businesses, jobs and social changeClick To Tweet
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Today the world is a bit more nervous than it was yesterday. The new POTUS brings with him policies and attitudes and opinions that make millions of people feel deeply uncomfortable. But I’m going to try to keep my views of Donald Trump out of this article and take...
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Dave Birss
Founder and Editor at OpenForIdeas.org
Dave is obsessed with creativity. He's been a musician, illustrator, stand-up comedian, poet, radio DJ, television presenter and advertising creative director. He also wrote A User Guide to the Creative Mind.
Now he runs Open for Ideas and helps individuals and companies become more creative.
You can find him speaking at conferences all over the world. And sharing his thinking in boardrooms, universities and dimly-lit pubs.