Are you or someone in your company having trouble coming up with new ideas? Are you finding that everyone is starting to think alike or thinking about things in a short sighted manner? Perhaps they are reluctant to take risks and you are wondering if there is anything you can do.
The good news is yes-a lot can be done. The examples above relate to the creative operative of the team. Contrary to what many people believe, creativity doesn’t just happen—it can be intended for, nurtured, and developed.
So how is creativity different from innovation?
To gain a better understanding of what creativity and innovation are, let’s define them.
Creativity is a process of developing and expressing novel ideas that are likely to be useful.
Innovation is the combination and/or amalgamation of knowledge into an original, relevant new idea.
The evolution of creativity to innovation
So, diving deeper, we find:
Creativity isn’t just talent; it’s a goal oriented process: Becoming more creative and innovative is best facilitated by taking on a collaborative approach. Synergy happens when a group can take the best of each persons’ unique viewpoint and self and develop a new idea. We can only do this when we are comfortable with others—and in a comfortable environment.
An innovation is the end result of the creative process. Creativity is a process you employ to improve your problem solving. You are not done until your creative efforts have produced a product, service, or process that answers the original need or solves the problem you identified at the outset.
Creativity involves convergent as well as divergent thinking. The creative process begins with divergent thinking—a breaking away from familiar or established ways of seeing and doing that produces novel ideas. Convergent thinking occurs in the later stages of the process. As the original ideas generated by the divergent thinking are shared, they are then evaluated to determine which ideas are genuinely novel and worth pursuing. The group must then use convergent thinking to choose the best idea.
“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”
Huge McLeod wrote a colorful and divergent book named, “Ignore Everybody And 39 Other Keys to Creativity.” In his book he talks about his path to creativity and some great tips for fostering personal and professional creativity. Here are some highlights:
#4: Good Ideas have lonely childhoods: McLeod suggests that good ideas won’t always be received with open arms, even from your closest support systems. Good ideas often feel resistance because the alter the power balance in relationships. He believes this is why it is selling a new product or service to the general public can oftentimes be easier than selling it to your own internal team or department… Hence the title!
#14: Never compare your inside with somebody else’s outside: McLeod writes, “The more you practice your craft, the less you confuse wordly rewards, and vice versa. Even if your path never makes any money or furthers your career, that’s still worth a ton.” Here we are reminded of the old adage—do you what you love and the money will come.
#16: The most important thing a creative person can learn professionally is where to draw the red line that separates what you are willing to do from what you are not: Know your moral and creative bottom lines. McLeod writes,” Art suffers the moment other people start paying for it. The more you need the money, the more people will tell you what to do. The less control you will have. The more B.S. you will have to swallow. The less joy it will bring. Know this and plan accordingly.”
Unleashing creative potential
There are other steps you can take, as well. By being aware of convergent group norms, you can support an environment in which people feel good about themselves, their peers, and their work. Your role and leadership shapes the way in which they are motivated to seek out problems and solve them.
• Carefully determine the group, seeking creative abrasion.
• Cultivate the workplace environment; physical space is important as psychological.
• Provide techniques and resources that enhance idea generation.
• Manage the process of creativity, so that the best ideas are transformed into innovative products, services, and ideas.