Creativity is about creation. It’s about harnessing the power of the mind to conceive new ideas, products plans, thought experiments, tastes, sensations or art. Creativity can be a form of expression or a way of solving problems. Anyone can be creative, and in any context. There’s creativity in the marketing department, just as there can be creativity on a football pitch.
Creativity has traditionally been left to those ‘wacky’ companies that are deliberately trying to do things differently, with the majority of businesses tending to favour a traditional and monotone approach to running their organizations. However, the changing business landscape means that companies are beginning to consider a more creative approach to working.
Need of creativity
Creativity can help a company manage tasks, improve staff performance and create quality products. It is also vital in fostering a likeable and aspirational company image. With consumers now able to get a snapshot of what company life is like, businesses need to be able to depict their inner culture in a way that makes it seem appealing.
As new technologies continue to develop and become available, companies have to be flexible and able to keep up to date. Creativity allows them to easily identify new ways in which technology can be applied to help their businesses. Likewise, with social media and other interactive forms of marketing now available, it’s never been more important for companies to be able to be creative.
Allowing employees to be more creative can inspire them to come up with more interesting ideas as well as improve their overall output. Many of the world’s leading companies have started to adopt unorthodox methods of encouraging maximum creativity from their employees, such as sleeping pods and flexible working areas.
Types of Creativity
- Deliberate and Cognitive creativity
People who possess deliberate and cognitive characteristics are purposeful. They have a great amount of knowledge about a particular subject and combine their skills and capabilities to prepare a course of action to achieve something. This type of creativity built when people work for a very long time in a particular area.
People who fall under this type of category of creativity are usually proficient at research, problem- solving, investigation and experimentation. This type of creativity is located in the brain’s prefrontal cortex, which is at the front part of the brain. These types of creative people spend a great deal of time every single day testing to develop new solutions.
Thomas Alva Edison is one prominent example of this type of creative people. He ran experiment after experiment before inventing electricity, the light bulb, and telecommunication. Hence, deliberate and cognitive creativity requires a great deal of time, dedication and abundance of knowledge about a particular subject.
- Deliberate and Emotional Creativity
People who are categorized as deliberate and emotional let their work influenced by their state of emotions. These types of creative people are very emotional and sensitive in nature. These individuals prefer relatively quiet and personal time to reflect and they usually have a habit of diary writing. However, they are equally logical and rational in decision making.
Their creativity is always a balanced product of deliberate emotional thinking and logical actions. This type of creativity is found in the amygdala and cingulate cortex parts of the human brain. Amygdala is responsible for human emotions whereas cingulate cortex helps in learning and information processing. This type of creativity happens to people at random moments. Those moments are usually referred to as “a-ha!” moments when someone suddenly thinks of a solution to some problem or think of some innovative idea.
For example, there are situations when you feel low and emotional which distracts you from your work. In those kinds of situations, you should take 5 minutes and point out the things which are making you sad and keep them aside and focus on the work in hand. It will help you to get improvised results and you will get work done easily. One should seek “quiet time” for deliberate and emotional creativity to happen to them.
- Spontaneous and Cognitive creativity
There are times when you spend a long time to crack a problem but can’t think of any solution. For example, when you want to make a schedule for a month to get a job done, but you can’t seem to think of any possible way and when you are watching television and having your relaxed time and suddenly you think of a solution and everything falls in place. The same case happened with the great scientist Isaac Newton. He got the idea about the law of gravity when an apple hit his head while he was sitting under a tree and relaxing.
This is the “Eureka!” moments for Newton and an excellent example of a spontaneous and cognitive person. This type of creativity happens when one has the knowledge to get a particular job done, but he requires inspiration and a hint to walk towards the right path. This type of creativity usually happens at the most inconvenient time, such as, when you are in bed with your partner or having a shower. Spontaneous and cognitive creativity takes place when the conscious mind stops working and go to relax and unconscious mind gets a chance to work.
Mostly, this type of creative person stops conscious thinking when they need to do “out of the box” thinking. By indulging in different and unrelated activities, the unconscious mind gets a chance to connect information in new ways which provide solutions to the problems. Therefore, to let this type of creativity happen one should take a break from the problem and get away to let conscious mind overtake.
- Spontaneous and Emotional Creativity
Spontaneous and emotional creativity takes place in the “amygdala” part of the human brain. Amygdala is responsible for all emotional type of thinking in the human brain. Spontaneous ideas and creativity happen when conscious and Prefrontal brain is resting. This type of creativity is mostly found in a great artist such as musicians, painters, and writers etc. This type of creativity is also related to “epiphanies”.
Epiphany is a sudden realization of something. Spontaneous and emotional creativity is responsible for a scientific breakthrough, religious and also philosophical discoveries. This allows the enlightened person to look at a problem or situation with a different and deeper viewpoint.
Those moments are defined as rare moments when great discoveries take place. There is no need to have specific knowledge for “spontaneous and emotional” creativity to happen but there should be a skill such as writing, musical or artistic. This type of creativity can’t be obtained by working on it.
Innovation, on the other hand, needs stability and establishment. It’s about changing a common or long-standing process by improving it. It’s only by having a status quo in existence, that you can develop it in order to innovate. So, while creativity and innovation share strong links, the processes are entirely different.
Innovation is about taking newly created ideas and developing them into something useful and practical. In many ways, innovation is the process of converting theory into action.
The most common type of innovation is evolutionary, which means finding ways of making incremental improvements to your products and services. This type of innovation carries fewer risks, as it’s generally easier to establish demand for these improvements and to calculate the likely return on investment. However, it still requires a strategic, targeted approach – there’s little point in improving a product in a way that customers don’t value.
The best way to identify opportunities for evolutionary innovation is to talk to existing customers and find out what they value most about your products and services, and what aspects they’d like to see improved. If longer battery life is their number one priority, then it probably should be your number one target for innovation. However, if they also value the product’s easy portability, it’s probably not a good idea for your new version to be much larger or heavier.
Need of innovation
Innovation is important because it’s the only way that you can differentiate your products and services from those of your competitors. For customers and clients to choose your business, your offer needs to be distinctive and valuable, and the only way to achieve this is through innovation.
It can be tempting to let your rivals do all the heavy lifting of creativity and innovation, with all the investment, experimentation and risks that this entails. Then, when they come up with a dazzling new product or improvement, you can simply copy what they’ve done at a fraction of the effort. However, there are several pitfalls to this approach.
Most importantly, you’ll always be playing catch-up. However quickly you get your version to market, your rivals will always have the lead on you and they’ll already be planning their next move. This means customers will go to your rivals first, who will maintain a reputation for leading the pack. Your business won’t stand out because there’ll always be someone else who’s already met the needs and desires of your customers. You’ll harm your own brand, and could also risk infringing on your competitor’s intellectual property rights.
However, innovation doesn’t have to be focused on changing a product or service. If you can find an innovative new process that enables you to create a product more efficiently without compromising on quality, you’ll be able to stand out from your rivals by undercutting their prices. Similarly, your innovation could come in the form of a new distribution system, enabling you to stand out by offering the fastest delivery to customers.
Creativity and innovation in the workplace
Exploiting both creativity and innovation in business can boost performance and the bottom line. But first, you need to make space for both to happen.
Encouraging creativity can involve lots of different strategies, from enabling employees to work outside the office to letting people come into and leave the office when they feel ready to, not when they’re expected to. The office itself needs to be creativity-friendly and there are ways you can adapt the working environment to support employees’ talents.
It’s important to let staff feel free when exploring new ideas – whether it’s tweaking your existing product or developing a whole new concept. Involve the team, share accountability, reward good work and be ready to respond to market feedback. Remember, your ideas and innovation, no matter how amazing, still need to fulfil a need among customers.
There’s no guaranteed source of great ideas, but they do tend to be generated by the most engaged, positive employees. They don’t come from staff who are bored or stressed. Great ideas sometimes come from brainstorming sessions, but trying to force out ideas can be counterproductive. In reality, great ideas are equally likely to occur when a particular problem occurs that requires a solution, or even when an employee is on their way home, thinking about their day.
The key is to use your business’s culture and processes to capture these ideas when they happen, wherever they come from. Staff suggestion boxes and allocated creative time can work well, but sometimes all that’s required is a clear message from the boss that all ideas are welcome.