Category Archives: Scott Adams

Creativity Is Allowing Yourself to Make Mistakes. Art Is Knowing Which Ones to Keep

Scott Adams? Ricky Gervais? Douglas Adams? Anonymous?

adams11Quote Investigator: Using creativity to solve a problem or create an artwork requires openness, originality, and imagination. Yet, the process inevitably produces some missteps and gaffes. That is why the following is my favorite quotation:

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.

This statement has been attributed to comedian Ricky Gervais, cartoonist Scott Adams, and science fiction humorist Douglas Adams. Would you please determine who the actual originator was?

Quote Investigator: In 1996 Scott Adams published “The Dilbert Principle” which comically argued that the least competent people moved into management positions. In the final chapter Adams set forth some of his own ideas about running a successful company: 1

In this chapter you will find a variety of untested suggestions from an author who has never successfully managed anything but his cats. (And now that I think of it, I haven’t seen the gray one for two days.)

Adams said the following about the error-prone nature of creativity. Boldface has been added to experts: 2

Finally—and this is the last time I’m going to say it—we’re all idiots and we’re going to make mistakes. That’s not necessarily bad. I have a saying: “Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.”

Keep your people fresh, happy, and efficient. Set a target, then get out of the way. Let art happen. Sometimes idiots can accomplish wonderful things.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

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Notes:

  1. 1996, The Dilbert Principle by Scott Adams, Quote Page 315, HarperBusiness, New York. (Verified on paper)
  2. 1996, The Dilbert Principle by Scott Adams, Quote Page 324, HarperBusiness, New York. (Verified on paper)