Creativity – Mysterious Ingredient of Innovation

innovation, creativity, businessWith so much emphasis on innovation in the business world, people are trying to determine what the ingredients are. There is pressure to be the most innovative with products and delivery. There is this thought that there must be some special way to create something so innovative, so groundbreaking now because anything else would be ordinary.

Even service providers are expected to be innovators. But is innovation ideas, process, sponsorship and support from higher-ups or is it the people doing the work?  But if you drill down even and look at any of these ingredients, it is clear that the ideas come from somewhere.

Most basic ingredient of innovation is creativity

Okay, so it’s an ingredient. That seems pretty obvious.The thing about innovation is that it is the practical application of an idea. Before that application, there had to be a moment when someone thought (or perhaps imagined is a better word). In a Fast Company post, the author described Albert Einstein’s method of problem solving as thinking for the majority of the time and then coming up with his answer. This seems consistent with recent research which has discovered that daydreaming is one way creativity is sparked.

Rediscovering creativity

We know creativity when we see it, right? It would seem so. We can feel it when we are in the moment. Artists have described it as being on fire. It is the experience of being “on” with everything working in concert. Within the last few years, researchers have been trying to discover how the “magic” happens so they have been looking at everything from freestyling rappers to lighting attempting to pinpoint how creativity functions. But this points to the chase more than anything else.

Ephemeral quality of creativity

Elizabeth Gilbert in her TED talk describes the experience of creativity so eloquently. Like many artists, authors and musicians, she notes how hard it is to create and the fear that she will not replicate the quality of her writing. For innovators in the business world, the pressure to find something marketable can amplify the same fear that Gilbert and other creators experience.

Couldn’t using the research findings make it more likely to create?

This may be the most interesting question. Could we confuse what is truly creativity by doing certain things or manipulating our environment? (For a quick overview of the latest research findings, read this post by Will Burns) The application of this research could very well derail creativity. It feeds the belief that if we get the right lighting, the right level of noise, daydream enough or what have you, we’ll be consistently creative. Dan Palotta writes, “The unspoken assumption is that our goal is to gain competitive advantage, to crush the competition, to win.” There is also an assumption that you can mechanize the process.

Does creativity need a purpose or is it a business tool?

But, what if, asDan Palotta also asks, that creativity is something deeper? For some creativity is simply a form of exploration. For others, it is an answer to a question or problem that occupies their thoughts. There may need to be other questions asked about creativity such as timing, purpose, social value and who gets to be creative.

There are even more questions about creativity so join us on the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz on Friday, September 13th at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT

What is the purpose of creativity?

How do we train ourselves to recognize creativity in nontraditional places?

When we talk about creativity, are we really talking about design?

How do we overcomplicate creativity?

Given what research has discovered about creativity, why does it seem elusive?

Is creativity simply an activity of creation, to provide a good/service to the world, an expression of being human or something else?


Could Positive Thinking Limit Creativity?

Positive thinking, creativityThis week has been a very strange one for me as a coach. In my work, I’ve had two very remarkable conversations with small business owners that showed how they are moving forward in eliminating their negative beliefs and habits. On the other side, I’ve run across at least three posts that disparaged positive thinking as limiting one’s ability to think creatively or pro-actively.

What is positive thinking? Continue reading