Melissa Cater, PhD
When all think alike, then no one is thinking. ~ Walter Lippman
The essential part of creativity is not being afraid to fail. ~ Edwin H. Land
Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things. ~ Theodore Levitt
Innovation is the process of turning ideas into manufacturable and marketable form. ~ Watts Humprey
The innovation point is the pivotal moment when talented and motivated people seek the opportunity to act on their ideas and dreams. ~ W. Arthur Porter
We are often urged to think creatively, to think outside the box, and to embrace innovation. Yet many of us struggle feel either creative or innovative in our everyday lives. It’s not uncommon to hear people remark that creativity and innovation are the hallmarks of a few, and not the many. Yet research does not support this idea (Breen, 2004). We all have the capacity to think creatively and produce innovative solutions in a supportive work environment.
What factors do support creativity and innovation? According to Amabile and Kramer (2007), the answers are as simple, and as complex, as employee perceptions, emotions, and work motivation.
Positive emotions (happiness, joy) precede high levels of creativity. In fact, positive emotion has a carryover effect from one day to the next day and, to a lesser degree, even the following day. So one day of really positive emotion can influence creativity levels for one to three days (Amabile and Kramer, 2007).
Organizations which give affirmative reactions to creativity and innovation by encouraging collaboration and cooperation, exhibiting openness to new ideas, promoting a vision of innovation, and rewarding creativity establish an environment where employees are willing to create and innovate (Amabile and Kramer, 2007).
Intrinsic motivation trumps external incentives. Employees who really like their work and who receive personal satisfaction from a job well-done have the highest levels of creativity (Amabile and Kramer, 2007).
What are some secrets to increasing your own creativity and innovation?
Set aside time to think creatively. Working under pressure rarely supports creativity and innovation as the distractions of the time-crunch interfere with the ability to focus (Breen, 2004).
Brainstorm unreservedly. Write down ideas that seem both doable and far-fetched (The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2004)
Embrace collaboration. There are many benefits to working in teams, not the least of which is the synergy created when multiple minds are working together to create innovative solutions (Breen, 2004; The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2004).
Create an action plan. Creativity becomes innovation when great thoughts are put in motion (The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2004).
As you reflect on the creativity and innovation needed to move your organization forward, what one step will you take – today – to increase your own creativity and innovation?
Amabile, T., & Kramer, S. (2007). Inner work-life: Understanding the subtext of business performance. World at Work Journal, 5, 10-23.
Breen, B. (2004). The 6 myths of creativity. Fast Company, 89. Retrieved from http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/89/creativity.html?page=0%2C0
The Partnership for 21st Century Skills. (2004). Creativity and innovation. Retrieved from http://www.p21.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=262&Itemid=120