Criticism on [Finnish] criticism

IVANAhelsinki – Pirjo Suhonen

IVANAhelsinki – Pirjo Suhonen

A couple of weeks ago I was in an advertising industry’s seminar. There was this speaker, Pirjo Suhonen from IVANAhelsinki who really got my, and I believe many other people’s attention. Her speech brought light in the midst of our dark autumn that sometimes feels overly depressing.

She was invited there to talk about creativity and how it’s a gift to the world, but I feel her message was also strongly about how people should boldly follow their own path in whatever they are passionate about and not mind the critics too much. Her company, IVANAhelsinki is a great example of this, and she and her sister are a strong example of what unconditional creativity which follows its own path can achieve.

You often hear Finnish people speaking of Finland lacking creativity, that we are more engineers than inventors and developers of new killer ideas and concepts. I believe that to be nonsense. I think that our greatest sin and fear is criticism.

Criticism towards ourselves, towards each others. When you are constantly fearing that someone will put your ideas down, you are putting them down yourself and in the end you are not able to keep you mind open and “boldly go there where no man has gone before”. You freeze the process of free-minded creation and the end idea will be a pale comparison to what it could have been.

We’re often told that every idea should be coherent from the start, neatly packed into a white northern functionalist package too easy to understand. It should be developed to the end before letting anyone see it or even releasing it as a product.

I think the biggest reason we are lacking the “killer apps” for example on the web and mobile realms, is that the really wild ideas are left in the drawer and people fear to take them to the max. Also, we are too often taught that “a good product sells itself”. Which, really, is pure nonsense too.

Many, many times you have to convince people before they believe your thing is the next big thing. These are the spots where somebody has to sell. And for a Finn, this is sometimes a very unpleasant thing.

I believe in some cases criticism is good. When put in the right place of the creation process. But, we tend to keep it with us from the get-go – could you believe me if I said this isn’t the right way? This goes to both, the people who are the critics and those who fear the critics.

Henrik Edberg writes one of my favourite blog, The Positivity Blog. If you are having a bad day, almost every time you can find something he has written that eases the agony. He just published a great post about critisicm. If you’re interested, go read it here.

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