What is Creativity?
Creativity is the act of turning new and imaginative ideas into reality. Creativity involves two processes: thinking, then producing. Innovation is the production or implementation of an idea. If you have ideas, but don’t act on them, you are imaginative but not creative.” — Linda Naiman
“Creativity is the process of bringing something new into being…creativity requires passion and commitment. Out of the creative act is born symbols and myths. It brings to our awareness what was previously hidden and points to new life. The experience is one of heightened consciousness-ecstasy.”
—Rollo May, The Courage to Create
“A product is creative when it is (a) novel and (b) appropriate. A novel product is original not predictable. The bigger the concept, and the more the product stimulates further work and ideas, the more the product is creative.”
—Sternberg & Lubart, Defying the Crowd
What is Innovation?
Innovation is the production or implementation of ideas. The National Innovation Initiative (NII) defines innovation as “The intersection of invention and insight, leading to the creation of social and economic value.”
Innovation means making meaningful change to improve an organization’s products, services, programs, processes, operations, and business model to create new value for the organization’s stakeholders. Innovation should lead your organization to new dimensions of performance. Innovation is no longer strictly the purview of research and development departments; innovation is important for all aspects of your operations and all work systems and work processes. Organizations should be led and managed so that innovation becomes part of the learning culture. Innovation should be integrated into daily work and should be supported by your performance improvement system.
Systematic processes for innovation should reach across your entire organization. Innovation builds on the accumulated knowledge of your organization and its people. Therefore, the ability to rapidly disseminate and capitalize on this knowledge is critical to driving organizational innovation.
—2009-2010 Baldrige Criteria for Innovation
For innovation to flourish, organizations must create an environment that fosters creativity; bringing together multi-talented groups of people who work in close collaboration together- exchanging knowledge, ideas and shaping the direction of the future.
What is Creativity in Business?
Creativity is a crucial part of the innovation equation. Creativity requires whole-brain thinking; right-brain imagination, artistry and intuition, plus left-brain logic and planning.
Creativity is a core competency for leaders and managers and one of the best ways to set your company apart from the competition.
Corporate Creativity is characterised by the ability to perceive the world in new ways, to find hidden patterns, to make connections between seemingly unrelated phenomena, and to generate solutions. Generating fresh solutions to problems, and the ability to create new products, processes or services for a changing market, are part of the intellectual capital that give a company its competitive edge.
Creativity is the Most Crucial Factor for Future Success
According to the IBM 2010 Global CEO Study, which surveyed 1,500 Chief Executive Officers from 60 countries and 33 industries worldwide, CEOs believe that,
More than rigor, management discipline, integrity or even vision – successfully navigating an increasing complex world will require creativity.”
CEOs say creativity helps them capitalise on complexity “The effects of rising complexity calls for CEOs and their teams to lead with bold creativity, connect with customers in imaginative ways and design their operations for speed and flexibility to position their organisations for twenty-first century success.”
The excessive focus on analysis, targets and number crunching, and the absence of introspection and imagination has resulted in a crisis in management which is partly to blame for our current financial crisis.”
—(Henry Mintzberg, Globe and Mail, 03-16-2009)
Creativity and Economic Development:
We are living in the age of creativity.
Daniel Pink in his book, A Whole New Mind (2005) defines Economic Development as:
1. Agriculture Age (farmers)
2. Industrial Age (factory workers)
3. Information Age (knowledge workers)
4. Conceptual Age (creators and empathizers)
Pink argues that left-brain linear, analytical computer-like thinking are being replaced by right-brain empathy, inventiveness, and understanding as skills most needed by business. In other words, creativity gives you a competitive advantage by adding value to your service or product, and differentiating your business from the competition. Without creativity, you are doomed to compete in commodity hell!
The Creativity Gap
A 2012 Adobe study on creativity shows 8 in 10 people feel that unlocking creativity is critical to economic growth and nearly two-thirds of respondents feel creativity is valuable to society, yet a striking minority – only 1 in 4 people – believe they are living up to their own creative potential.
Can creativity be learned?
Creativity begins with a foundation of knowledge, learning a discipline, and mastering a way of thinking. You learn to be creative by experimenting, exploring, questioning assumptions, using imagination and synthesing information. Learning to be creative is akin to learning a sport. It requires practice to develop the right muscles, and a supportive environment in which to flourish.
Overcoming myths about creativity
Beliefs that only special, talented people are creative-and you have to be born that way- diminish our confidence in our creative abilities. The notion that geniuses such as Shakespeare, Picasso and Mozart were `gifted’ is a myth, according to a study at Exeter University. Researchers examined outstanding performances in the arts, mathematics and sports, to find out if “the widespread belief that to reach high levels of ability a person must possess an innate potential called talent.”
The study concludes that excellence is determined by:
- motivation, and
- most of all-practice.
“Few showed early signs of promise prior to parental encouragement.” No one reached high levels of achievement in their field without devoting thousands of hours of serious training. Mozart trained for 16 years before he produced an acknowledged master work. Moreover many high performers achieve levels of excellence today that match the capabilities of a Mozart, or a Gold Medallist from the turn of the century.” (The Vancouver Sun, Sept.12/98)
Fostering Creativity at Work: Rules of the Garage
Follow these simple rules and you will foster a culture of creativity and innovation: These were defined by HP, which in fact started in a garage.
Believe you can change the world.
Work quickly, keep the tools unlocked, work whenever.
Know when to work alone and when to work together.
Share – tools, ideas. Trust your colleagues.
No politics. No bureaucracy. (These are ridiculous in a garage.)
The customer defines a job well done.
Radical ideas are not bad ideas.
Invent different ways of working.
Make a contribution every day. If it doesn’t contribute, it doesn’t leave the garage.
Believe that together we can do anything.
-1999 HP Annual Report
This post was revised Aug 10, 2012