Business Innovation 2) Innovation and creativity – part 1: myths

Tool for occasional creativity

You can’t have innovation in your organisation without building and fostering creativity. Unfortunately too many people think creativity is something that is rationed or should be carefully deployed.

This thinking is un-helpful to say the least and stems from a number of myths about creativity.

1) Only ‘creative people’ are creative

‘Creative people’ brings to mind people with their hair in pony tails, locked away in some part of the organisation where they don’t meet customers too often, but coming up with wacky ideas. Or people with creative jobs like artists or musicians. This misconception means that the majority of people who don’t fit into that category feel that they are relatively uncreative. Nothing could be further from the truth – I have heard some pretty uncreative musicians in my time (and if anyone has ever heard me play the guitar, well, draw your own conclusions!) and equally come across some highly creative people in all parts of business.

2) Creativity is either there or not – you can’t grow it

This myth follows from the assumptions about creative people and it’s equally wrong. Admittedly some groups of people might require more effort to get them creative, but any organisation that sets out to foster and grow creativity will do just that – with business results along the way.

3) Creativity is fine – but I also have to run a business

This myth places creativity in a box at the beginning of an innovation process and whilst any good innovation process will allow lots of ideas to be generated and prioritised, good ideas will be needed at all points in the cycle. Let’s say that you have a great idea for a product, begin to launch it and then discover that – despite all the thorough market research you did – a competitor has come in from left field with a superior offer. What do you do? It’s not necessarily a go/no-go decision at this point – you need lots of ideas to make the best of your investment.

In fact, you need to be stimulating people’s creativity at all points to identify ways of doing things better and it’s this stimulus that provides the lifeblood of business innovation. In the next post in this series I’ll look at ways in which organisations can provide that stimulus in practice.

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