“I’m not at all creative, so I want to see how others do it.”
Open University Student
You can create and innovate. With knowledge of different methods and techniques and a creative climate, you can become more successful at both…
The quotation above was the response from an MBA student (an experienced manager) when I asked for his learning objectives at an Open University, Creativity & Innovation course.
Now I believe even gorillas can be creative, though I can’t prove it because I’ve never found one that spoke English. (This thought makes me wonder what it would be like to facilitate a group of gorillas. Would they listen more effectively than some humans?). So I asked the student what led him to believe he was not?
‘Because I am 64 on the Kirton scale and that means I am not creative’.
‘Whoa, that’s some limiting belief you’ve got their’ is a thought that crossed my mind but I empathised and explained that the ‘Kirton Adaptation Innovation’ inventory reflects whether you have a more adaptive or innovative style of problem solving, not whether you are more or less creative. [See here for information] What would you say to that student?
Now, I say something like: ‘You can all create and innovate. With knowledge of the different methods and techniques and a climate conducive to clear thinking, you can become more skilled at both’.
Many people say they are not creative. Some feel it is ‘arty farty’, tree hugging, warm and fuzzy stuff and they aren’t like that. Others see creativity and innovation as the generation of ideas. But this is just one step in the process.
Professor Min Basadur of McMasters University Canada writes that there are eight steps involved in what he calls the Simplex cycle of innovation (a cycle because it never ends):
- Find problems and Establish the facts
- Define the problem and Generate solutions
- Evaluate / develop solutions and Plan action
- Sell the solution and Implement it
Generating ideas (or solutions) is just one step, but great ideas don’t get to market unless there are people who can evaluate them, develop them and put them into action. Basadur’s research shows that most people have an orientation (a preference) for certain steps although some people have a balanced orientation.
The key point he makes is that we can all become more practised at each of the steps or we can work with people who are more oriented towards different steps than us, if we want to improve our success at C & I.
Do you think you are not creative? Or do you think people on your team are not? You and they are.
You and they can all contribute to the creative process and if done in a structured and ongoing way (not just a once a year “brainstorming” session) it can produce tangible business results.
I hear you say, because people I work with say it, “innovation won’t happen with our management team, they are too risk averse.”
If your company culture is a bit staid, you may have to become a creative guerrilla (thanks to John Martin, formerly of the OU for the metaphor), introducing tools and techniques with stealth. But don’t let that stop you in your part of the organisation, be brave!
As an action, you might like to discover your own preference for creative problem solving by taking the CPS profile online here. There is a small charge of $10 for this service (Yes! And… do not receive any benefit from this).
I’m pleased to say that my student left the residential school with a different perspective, some tools and techniques and a bunch of metaphorical bananas (which is food for thought).
[With thanks to the following for their support to establish this blog]:
Have a great week…
John Brooker I Yes! And. Think Innovatively.
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