Creativity for Innovation Management
eBook - ePub

Creativity for Innovation Management

Ina Goller, John Bessant

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  1. 332 pages
  2. English
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eBook - ePub

Creativity for Innovation Management

Ina Goller, John Bessant

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About This Book

Creativity for Innovation Management is a rigorous yet applied guide which illustrates what creativity is, why it matters, and how it can be developed at both individual and group levels. Unlike many technique-oriented books, this book will combine theory and practice, drawing on the latest research in psychology, organizational behaviour, innovation and entrepreneurship.

This exciting new text outlines the necessary skills and competences for innovative and creative processes. It provides opportunities to explore these and also to develop them via a wide variety of activities linked to relevant tools and techniques, as well as a range of case studies. By working through key competence areas at personal and then team levels, students then have an opportunity to practice and enhance these skills.

This will be complemented by online resources which will provide students with access to key tools and techniques plus activities to help develop their creativity. This textbook is ideal for students of innovation, management and entrepreneurship, as well as professionals in those industries that want to excel by developing and applying their own creativity at work.

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Section 1

Chapter 1
Creativity …?

  • An artist sitting in front of her easel, mind focused as she faces a blank canvas and thinks hard and long about where and how she will make her first mark.
  • A games designer, hunched over his keyboard, frantically stabbing the keys as he creates the storyboard sketch for a new interactive game to run on smartphones.
  • A team of engineers huddled round a simple mock-up of a new product, pulling it into shape, scribbling notes on the flip chart behind them as they gradually refine the idea, giving shape to what will eventually become the baby buggy of the future but which now looks like the undercarriage of a very old and rickety aeroplane.
  • A nurse on the night shift, sitting alone at her desk on the hospital ward, quietly taking time to sketch out an idea she has had for a new way to handle the medication trolley to make sure she and her colleagues don’t inadvertently give the wrong dose (or worse, the wrong tablets) to her patients.
  • An aid worker, sitting with a group of refugees talking about the mobile phone app she is hoping to develop to help solve the problem of relocating missing members of families reconnect after they have fled a war zone.
What is the common thread running through these stories? Creativity – the ability to come up with novel solutions to problems. The context might vary widely but the core activity is still the same – creating something useful, valuable, from ideas.
The word is everywhere – creative industries, creative people, creative leaders, creative organizations and so on. But it’s not just a fashion label – in a world where we face some pretty tough challenges it’s a truism to say we need all the creativity we can get.
For our ancestors creativity was a matter of survival – if we couldn’t think our way out of a problem (like an approaching predator) then we wouldn’t be around for long! Dealing with the daily struggle to survive required us to be innovative, and the key to that was the ability to imagine and explore different possibilities.
These days we’re more concerned with creating value, whether in a commercial or social sense, but the core skill remains the same. It involves finding, exploring and solving problems and puzzles – and that’s where creativity comes in. Whether we are a solo start-up entrepreneur or a member of a team tasked with helping the organization to think ‘outside the box’, the main resource which we need is one which we already have – creativity.

Creativity and innovation

Innovation is another of those words you can’t avoid bumping into these days. We talk about things being innovations – a different type of chocolate, a new form of transportation, an alternative way to shop, a radical shift in communications. Think Airbnb, Uber, Google or Apple, or take a look at the hundreds of new products which scream at you from the supermarket shelves every time you go shopping! But innovation is also the way those things came about, the process which transforms an idea, a gleam in some inventor’s eye, into the new things we are being asked to buy and use. It’s not a magic event; there is a long haul involving many different activities and people to create something which others will value.
Although there are many definitions of innovation at its simplest, it is the process of creating value from ideas. It’s something which we have studied for a long time – not surprisingly given its importance in the economy. Without going into detail it’s pretty clear that innovation – making ideas happen – is at the heart of economic growth; to take one example, the famous economist William Baumol suggested that ‘virtually all of the economic growth that has occurred since the eighteenth century is ultimately attributable to innovation’ [1].
It’s not just about economics; innovation is also about creating social value, changing the world to make it a better place. There is a long tradition of this kind of innovation; people like Florence Nightingale, Elizabeth Fry, William Wilber-force or Albert Schweitzer are famous examples from the past, but we can also find plenty of individuals whose work today is along the same lines. The growth in social innovation has also been accelerated through enabling technologies around information and communication. These days it becomes easier to reach many different players and to combine their innovative efforts into rich and new types of solutions. For example, mobilizing patients and carers in an online community concerned with rare diseases or using mobile communications to help deal with the aftermath of humanitarian crises – reuniting families, establishing communications, providing financial aid quickly via mobile money transfers and so forth.
Whether commercially or socially motivated understanding, the innovation process is clearly important, and the good news is that we have learned a lot about how to organize and manage it [2]. Central to this is the principle that it involves human creativity; delivering innovation is primarily about building the structures and mechanisms to support this. It doesn’t really matter whether we are dealing with a tiny start-up or giant Google-sized enterprise, a small family business or the UK’s National Health Service (the world’s biggest employer after the Chinese People’s Liberation Army), the challenge is the same: how to enable innovation as applied creativity.

Entrepreneurs, innovation and creativity

Innovation isn’t an accident; anyone might get lucky once, but being able to repeat the trick and deliver a stream of new products, processes and services depends on organizing and managing it. And it’s not something magical which drops out of the sky at key moments – it’s the result of applied creativity. The other key part of the equation is the people who deliver it – working individually and in teams and in all sorts of different contexts. The label for this kind of activity is entrepreneurship.
As the famous management writer Peter Drucker put it, ‘innovation is what entrepreneurs do’ [3]. It isn’t a lucky accident – evidence is that this is a skill-based activity, one which can be learned and developed. We often see entrepreneurs as a special case – famous individuals like Steve Jobs (Apple), Natalie Massenet (Net-a-Porter), Richard Branson (Virgin), Martha Lane-Fox (, Jack Ma (Alibaba), Jeff Bezos (Amazon) or Elon Musk (Tesla). But – as we’ve shown elsewhere – everyone is an entrepreneur in the sense of being a change agent [4]. The context in which they work could be a start-up, but it could also be trying to make a change project happen in their organization. They could be working in the public or private sector or as volunteers for a charity or neighbourhood group. They might be acting as entrepreneurs – agents of change – in their wider lives – as part of an amateur theatre group, building a community shop, organizing a party. What all of these share is that they are trying to apply creativity to innovate, to create some form of commercial or social value. Figure 1.1 shows how these three are linked.
Figure 1.1 Links between creativity, entrepreneurs and innovation
Figure 1.1 Links between creativity, entrepreneurs and innovation
In this book we want to explore creativity but not as an abstract concept. It’s the fuel driving the innovation process, enabling changes which affect our lives. Creating value – whether commercial or social. And it is enabled through people – everyday entrepreneurs – working in many different contexts but sharing the ability to solve problems in novel ways. We’re particularly interested in how they do so – the competences and skills which they learn and deploy to be more effective at creativity.
Creative activity
Think about the last month. Where have you been creative? Or where could you use creativity in order to reach a better outcome?
List ten situations you experienced in the last month where creativity played a role in your life.

What is creativity?

The question we want to explore in this book is not whether or not we can be creative – we already are! But research has shown that it isn’t a magical flash of inspiration but rather the application of a set of skills, the development of particular competences. And there are several things we can do, as individuals, groups and organizations, to improve our capacity for it. We’ll look in more detail in the following chapters, but for now let’s just fly over the creativity landscape briefly to get a sense of what’s involved.
So what is creativity? The Oxford Dictionary defines it as:
the use of imagination or original ideas to create something.
Others expand a little on this, suggesting dimensions of novelty and usefulness:
the generation of ideas, insights, or solutions that are novel and useful for a given situation or problem.
The famous psychologist Allen Newell pointed out that we can solve many problems by simple routines but there are some which require a different approach; for him creativity was this part of our problem-solving repertoire:
creative activity appears simply to be a special class of problem-solving activity characterised by novelty, unconventionality, persistence and difficulty in problem formulation.
(p. 2, [6])
We’d add our own definition: for us creativity is a complex construct describing the ability of human beings to invent something new or behave in a novel way. It’s about some key competences underpinned by a set of skills – ways of behaving – and we’ll look at these through the book. It’s not a luxury item – it has evolved as a human capability to help us deal with a complex and changing environment. But it’s not simply about reacting in smart fashion to the unexpected; creativity is also about being proactive, finding new ways forward. Progress, whether in economic growth or the expansion of arts and culture, has creativity at the heart of the innovation engine.
It’s important starting in early life – watch any group of children playing and you can’t fail to be struck by the invention and joy which follows their learning through experimentation and play. But it also matters at later stages, giving us the capacity for flexibility in dealing with an increasingly complex world. In old age one of the key psychosocial factors associated with healthy ageing is again flexibility; the one organ in which cells do not wear out or stutter to a halt is the brain. Studies have demonstrated its remarkable ‘plasticity’ – the capability to reinvent itself through making new conne...

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