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Individual Creativity: Roles and Process

Creativity fills one gaping hole: our need to communicate and to create new ideas and new knowledge. The term knowledge is used here in its broadest sense, to encompass what we call knowledge, expertise, skills and information (Faulkner, 1994: 426).

However, my main concern in this article is narrowly focused, on the cognitive features of knowledge generated by creative processes. This knowledge is intimately related to questions of who has particular knowledge and how easily it is to make use of this knowledge in an organization laden with instantaneous demand and response times. Are individuals defined by their knowledge rather than how they apply it? Are we finding a new pace, time, space and depth to how we innovate?

Individual Creativity

As old products are replaced by new, creativity is the identifying factor changing the way we do things? Creativity drives entrepreneurship at all levels anticipating profits through early product innovation. Whether radical or incremental innovation, creative dynamism at the individual level has a cumulative effect on the innovation process.

A pervasive image of innovation casts a scenario centering on the individual innovator.

Indeed, as authors Cameron Ford and Dennis Gioia, emphasize in their book of collected essays, Creative Action in Organizations (1995) those searching for the fountain of creativity have traditionally focused on the solitary inventor. A single person-centered view has outlived its usefulness. Even the most legendary inventor, such as Thomas

Edison, is often a team in disguise (Kelley, 2001). The idea of a lone genius distracts us from the more useful focus on the higher potential source of creativity: the organization as a collective of creative people working as a team. To promote organizational creativity among individuals attempt to remove barriers and obstacles that hinder creativity and denote the lone inventor as a myth.

Creativity does not just happen. It is a cognitive process that produces new ideas or transforms old ideas into updated concepts, according to Brussels Free University psychology professor Liane Gabora. Scientists such as Jacques Hadamard and Henri Poincaré studied the creative process and contributed to the Creative Process Model, which explains how an individual can form seemingly random thoughts into an ideal combination or solution, according to the website The Information Philosopher.

The Preparation Step of the Creative Process Model

During the preparation step of the creative process model, an individual becomes curious after encountering a problem. Examples of problems can include an artistic challenge or an assignment to write a paper. During this stage, she may perform research, creates goals, organize thoughts and brainstorm as different ideas formulate. For example, a marketing professional may prepare for a marketing campaign by conducting market research and formulating different advertisement ideas.

The Incubation Step of the Creative Process Model

While the individual begins to process her ideas, he begins to synthesize them using his imagination and begins to construct a creation. Gabora states that during this step, the individual does not actively try a find a solution, but continues to mull over the idea in the back of his head.

The Illumination Step of the Creative Process Model

As ideas begin to mature, the individual has an epiphany regarding how to piece her thoughts together in a manner that makes sense. The moment of illumination can happen unexpectedly. For example, an individual with the task of putting together an office party may have an idea for a theme while driving home from work.

The Evaluation Step of the Creative Process Model

After a solution reveals itself in an epiphany, the individual then evaluates whether the insight is worth the pursuit. He may make changes to his solution so it is clearer. He may consult with peers or supervisors regarding his insights during this step before pursuing it further. If he works with clients, he may seek a client’s input and approval before moving on to the next step.

The Implementation Step of the Creative Process Model

The implementation of an idea or solution in the creative process model is when an individual begins the process of transforming her thoughts into a final product. For example, during this step, a painter may begin outlining shapes on a canvas with charcoal before applying oil paints to the medium. According to Gabora, an individual may begin this step more than once in order to reach the desired outcome.

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