Managing Creativity an Oxymoron! Not.
Interrogated on a beach in Barbados by friends insistent that there was little validity to my speciality, I have felt compelled to answer the most common objections in the field of Managing Creativity and Innovation.
a) Managing Creativity and Innovation is an oxymoron! When ideas are required, leaders tend to herd people into a room with a flip chart and conduct (usually an ineffective) brainstorming session. Implicit in this action is an acceptance that certain techniques and processes can increase problem identification, idea generation and the elicitation of tacit knowledge.
Structures such as the Hero's Journey are accepted as increasing creative output when idea streams (such as in screenwriting) are needed.
Product development theory has proven innovation strategies that allow better idea selection, development and commercialisation. Frameworks such as the S-curve and idea funnels allow the efficient monitoring of ideas through a pipeline and effective go or kill decision-making.
b) Creativity cannot be managed because ideas occur out of the blue. Ideas are the result of the mind working on particular problems at various cognitive levels. Though you cannot predict what an idea will be, where it will occur and what form it will take you can increase the likelihood of ideas occurring. Further, you can increase the number of ideas produced, the rarity of those ideas, the diversity of those ideas and the frequency of their production.
c) Creativity is not a process. If you analyse the behaviour of people who are used to generating many ideas regularly, you will find that common patterns emerge. There is a definite process that triggers creative activity on multiple cognitive levels, resulting in the required insight. The process includes identifying and intensely investigating a problem, forcing production of ideas using creative versus critical thinking and other techniques; seeking stimuli and allowing the unconscious mind to take over by engaging in rest and unrelated activities.
d) Creativity is not tangible; creativity cannot be measured. Analysts can measure (and therefore make tangible) creativity by quantifying a wide number of criteria. For instance, idea generation can be measured according to the number of ideas produced, their novelty, their variety and the frequency of their production. The DIY Creativity and Innovation Audit that comes with the MBA dissertation lists more than 150 benchmarking criteria, allowing holistic measurement.
e) Creative people will be creative whether they are "coached" or not. Perhaps. Consider the infinite number of people who have been working on half finished manuscripts for months and often years. Management techniques increase creative output enabling completion in much shorter periods. Further, management techniques encourage targeted prolific activity, thus allowing the building of competencies and improvement.
f) Managing Creativity is not a useful activity unless it results in economic gain. Creativity can be defined as problem identification and idea generation. Innovation can be defined as idea selection, development and commercialisation. First use creativity to generate an idea pool and then use innovation to select feasible ideas, which can be developed and commercialised.
These and other topics are covered in depth in the MBA dissertation on Managing Creativity & Innovation, which can be purchased (along with a DIY Audit, Good Idea Generator Software and Power Point Presentation) from http://www.managing-creativity.com
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kal Bishop is a management consultant based in London, UK. He has consulted in the visual media and software industries and for clients such as Toshiba and Transport for London. He has led Improv, creativity and innovation workshops, exhibited artwork in San Francisco, Los Angeles and London and written a number of screenplays. He is a passionate traveller. He can be reached on http://www.managing-creativity.com.