Invest in creativityInvest in creativity
June 18, 2001
Creativity is the discovery of novel and appropriate ideas in any realm of human activity, from science, to the arts, to education, to business, to everyday life.
Creativity, the first step in the innovation process, is required to successfully implement those novel ideas. Creativity and its support of innovation are vital for long-term corporate success. Organizations that resist change and simply maintain existing products, procedures, and strategies are usually headed for trouble and eventual failure. Firms that deliver the same products and services in the same way will not long survive, especially in the growing global economy, which emphasizes creativity.
By contrast, firms that prepare for the future and implement new ideas compatible with our changing world have a greater probability of continuing success.
Many organizations recognize creativity's importance to innovation as well as their need for highly creative employees. They spend resources on creativity programs and creativity consultants. Unfortunately, these expenditures often do not provide lasting results.
Six needed resources. Some believe that these failures occur because the training often focuses only on creative thinking, which is only one aspect of the overall innovation process. Six resources have been identified as needed by creative organizations: knowledge, intellectual abilities, thinking styles, motivation, personality, and the environment. Just as money is invested in the stock market for a financial return, so too must companies invest in these six resources to earn a creative return in the idea market.
Since it takes some time to acquire field expertise, or knowledge, companies should adopt a long-range view to give employees time to become expert. Companies should try to be less concerned about next quarter's earnings. They also need to identify the intellectual abilities of their employees and put them to work where they will provide the most benefit.
Some have characterized thinking styles as following along a continuum from organic (inventing style) to mechanistic (implementing style, the degree to which some are willing to follow orders). As for motivation, people are generally most creative in pursuits they enjoy. Their work should be intrinsically satisfying.
Personality. Organizations need to be concerned with keeping people with sufficient diversity in the organization. What is perceived as reality can vary. When considering the final resource, environment, you cannot often tell in advance how this resource will work. Companies supporting an odd bunch of creative people doing their own thing need to spread out their risk, just as wise stock market investors would. Not all investments will be winners.
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