Creativity can have a positive impact on an organization’s effectiveness as well as provide an enriching experience for us. CEO, Dorie Clark (2012) suggests that there are two significant types of creativity: (a) conceptual or theoretical; and (b) the gradual process. Clark purports that the conceptual or theoretical process of creativity is derived from situations or challenges that require immediate solutions (Clark, 2012). In this context, creativity is looked to as a means to an end. In other words, the creative process is implemented with the intent to generate resolutions for organizational problems.
For example, a Senegalese farmer living in destitution can look to creative solutions to improve the living conditions set forth by the social, economic and political structure of his geography by expanding his agricultural abilities with the advent of technological upgrades like farm machinery (Harper & Leicht, 2011, pp. 292-294). This is one example of a possible solution that was conceived from a concept based on the success of farmers in core nations.
The second type of creativity Clark cites, the gradual process, is just that; finding a path to resolution step by step with no eureka moment. This method is harder to identify due to its nature and is often referred to as experimental or empirical creativity which requires time for development and evolution.
Clark offers three tips she believes are significant for stimulating the creative process:
- Bring both types of thinkers to the table – conceptual and gradual process. Their opposing views and arguments offer a ripe atmosphere for new creation.
- Offer rewards – Rewards (like mid-career innovation) in the form of grants, prices, and other resources.
- Nurture experimental thinking – When this is done correctly, working on something new and completely different affords the opportunity to learn new techniques, new concepts, and new systems.
The creative process is complex. The more variety of methods and ideas, the better. Michalko (2001) focused his studies on individuals at the genius level. His observations conclude that most geniuses think productively, not re-productively. When confronted with a challenge, they ask themselves how many different ways they can crack the problem, rethink it and solve it, rather than follow traditional methods. Geniuses tend to think out of the box; outside the norm and implement unconventional methods. Productive thinking generates many alternative angles, taking into consideration the least and the most likely approaches. In short, there is a willingness to explore all avenues. Einstein for example, said that if the average individual were asked to find a needle in a haystack, that person would stop upon the task’s completion. Einstein on the other hand, would tear through the entire haystack looking for all the possible needles (Michalko, 2001). It was after all, Albert Einstein who said that imagination is more important than knowledge.
In contrast, reproductive thinkers tend to foster attitudes of rigidity and an unwillingness to try new things. They are set in their ways, comfortable with the norms and repeating traditional methods of problem solving. They interpret challenges from a more cautious perspective and tend to view different ideas as foreign concepts. This attitude puts constraints on the creative process.
Ray and Myers (1986) have a unique approach to organizational creativity. They simply view business as art, stating that capital, people, the markets, and ideas (that have lives of their own), are the tools required. The creative process merely lies with taking these tools and reorganizing them in new and different ways. In conclusion, creativity isn’t a destination; it is a journey that thrives at all levels and in all phases of a business. These are just a few concepts one can look at when opening the door to the creative process.
Clark, D. (2012, April 3). Three ways to foster creativity in your organization. Retrieved January 21, 2013, from http://www.forbes.com: http://www.forbes.com/sites/dorieclark/2012/04/03/three-ways-to-foster-creativity-in-your-organization/
Michalko, M. (2001). Cracking creativity: The secrets of creative genius. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press.