Ongoing research I'm undertaking on the
various aspects of the creativity and science intersection
Does Size Matter? Understanding Organisational Creativity in Small to Medium Sized Enterprises, 2016
Throughout the world, businesses are striving for new and more efficient products and services to launch into the market. At the same time, there is a growing understanding by large organisations that creativity and innovation are important in enhancing competiveness and critical to surviving change and complexity. The literature points to both the imperative and value that large organisations place on creativity and innovation. There’s growing evidence that Small to Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) while often limited by resources, people and finances, know that to stay competitive, creativity and innovation are vital if their sector is to grow and thrive.
This study sought to understand how SMEs can leverage research on organisational creativity in the work environment to become more creative organisations. It interviewed senior managers in a Melbourne based business specialising in online marketplaces with the view to exploring if and how creativity can be fostered and developed in the workplace environment. It found that as both a medium sized business and now as a large business, factors that enhanced workplace creativity were relevant and as importantly were actively encouraged throughout the organisation.
Undertaken as part of a research project with Monash University, 2016.
Capitalizing on Complexity, Insights from Global Chief Executive Study, IBM, 2010
Business leaders are increasingly using the term ‘creativity’ to explain the need for creative core competencies as well creative leadership in communications and management (IBM, 2010). The rate of change in the world, the ever increasing complexity of problems, the highly competitive nature of business combined with the increase in technology driven solutions, all point to the need for more creative solutions. Driver (2001) further adds, “As consumers become less and less loyal, as competition from around the world intensifies, and as the Internet provides unlimited consumer choices, more business organisations are discovering that being creative and consistently delivering a product or service that delights customers in ever novel ways is fast becoming their only sustainable advantage in the marketplace”.
An IBM Report (2010) highlighted that CEOs, increasingly challenged by managing in a complex environment, recognised the need for ‘business model innovation’, and creative leadership. This study of 1500 CEOs from 33 different industries and 60 countries, identified creativity as the most important leadership quality, and the need for increased experimentation and innovation to achieve success (IBM, 2010). Similarly multinational corporations recognise the necessity of employee insights to enable their companies to thrive. Kelly (2013) reports that “Tech stars … Google, Facebook and Twitter have unleashed their employees’ creativity to change the lives of billions of people. Today, in every department, from customer service to finance, people have opportunities to experiment with new solutions” (p. 3). An Adobe Systems poll of five thousand people on three continents reports that 80% see unlocking creative potential as the key to economic growth (Kelly, 2013). In addition most Fortune 500 companies employ creative consultants to provide an important competitive advantage. (Shelley, 2015)
“Creativity enables a culture of innovation”
Sir Ken Robinson, 2011
Imagination, Creativity and Innovation
While my interests are focused on the value of creativity and the workplace factors that influence it, it’s understood to be on a spectrum that begins with imagination as it progresses to innovation. In rethinking the importance of creativity, Robinson (2011) notes it’s important to be clear about creativity and these related ideas. “Imagination … is the process of bringing to mind things that are not present to our senses; creativity …is the process of developing original ideas that have value; and innovation … is the process of putting new ideas into practice”.
Giugni (2001) reiterates the importance in the business sector claiming “more and more, imagination and creativity are becoming critical for business success… it is only those businesses which encourage creativity, and which can take advantage of it better than their competitors, that will survive… return on investment will result from nurturing imagination and creativity”.
What is creativity?
While the processes and activities of creativity and innovation are similar they do require an understanding of different approaches. Amabile (1997) defines creativity as a process that can be developed and managed with the aim to generate products, services and solutions. Shalley and Gilson (2004) note that innovation refers to the implementation of ideas, whereas creativity may examine unknown areas to find unique problem solving approaches or novel ways of performing a task and link ideas from multiple sources. Amabile (2004) reinforces the need to commit adequate attention to creativity given it is an essential first step to the innovation process. Many studies don’t distinguish between idea generation and implementation and how these ideas can be realised. Baer (2012) notes the conversion of ideas to actual innovations is one of the central problems in the research on innovation and that the factors that can shape the relationship between creativity and idea implementation still remain largely unknown.
What creativity is not
A growing chorus are demystifying how companies can generate new and creative ideas that will assist to solve the complex problems facing our society. Campbell’s (1960) historic evolutionary model of creativity argued that it wasn’t a mysterious process performed by only brilliant individuals (Shalley and Zhou, 2008). Both Ashton (2015) and Burkus (2014) recount examples of historic heroic myths that have conveniently shaped and limited the way we think about creativity, adding our attachment to these myths hinders our creative potential. Burkus (2014) concludes that we’re all creative, but that creativity is a complex and multidisciplinary process and that the secret to innovation lies in the ability to effectively navigate the creative process.