Saturday, May 17, 2008

Enhancing creativity in organizations

Creativity is a counter-intutive and disruptive process, and the environment and processes that promote it are often at odds with organizational thinking. At its heart, creativity is not about efficiency, and not about order and stability. Creativity is a process that leads to unidentified new ideas and/or new processes, and is about continuously challenging norms.

Creativity thrives when the environment is permissive and supportive of the following:

1. Free unihibited thinking, continuous exhange of information and ideas, vigorous interactions of ideas among people, and a feeling of "safe space" for idea generation.

2. Ideas are allowed to be generated without fear of being wrong or being judged as good or bad. There are no "Sacred Cows" and everything is fair game.

3. The process of ideas generation is separate from the process of decision-making.

4. The idea generation phase is not overly structured or institutionalized.

5. A sense of child-like fun is promoted.

6. When connections across seemingly unrelated issues and disciplines are faciliated.

7. When it is perfectly acceptable to allow "failures". In fact, failures should be actively rewarded, if creativity is to be promoted.

The bottom-line is that the best predictor of high quality ideas is high quantity of ideas. Besides, we have no clue about what great idea is going to emerge and how.

"Systems" that desire to plan and control are suitable for implemention and for gradualism. If organizations wish to "leap frog" into the future and/or desire to find new counter-intutive ways of confronting the future, they need to actively recruit disruptive innovators and create a permissive and less-rule-bound environment that encourages and supports these rare free spirits.

In general, free spirits have no agenda other than to be free spirits and to enjoy ideas, and to see them grow and thrive.

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