The business world has traditionally favored analytical thinking over conceptual thinking. Conceptually is the type of thinking required for innovation. Our educational system at all levels from elementary to graduate schools produces young men and women who think along strict parameters. But times have changed. We no longer need to train people to work for Henry Ford. That is where they check their brains and the door and simple do a job without thinking about what is being done or why. The jobs we need to train for today are not the types of jobs that require strict adherence to rules and simply following instructions. Those jobs are going overseas.Â And they are going quickly. We need a work force that can imagine, create and innovate.
While innovation and creativity are tightly linked they are not the same. Creativity is a key component of innovation. Creativity is both the ability to use an idea in a completely new and different context and the ability to combine two or more ideas to form a completely new idea. Innovation applies creativity to create value. Today businesses need people who can create new ideas and then evaluate those ideas to determine how to use them to provide value.
Businesses that do not currently have a cadre of creative and innovative people may be tempted to try and recruit them or simply buy ideas from some other source. If you do not have in place a culture which values conceptual and creative thinking, trying to hire creative people is a foolâ€™s errand. Businesses that attempt to fill the creative and innovative void by simply trying to purchase it will often find they have purchased a â€œme-tooâ€ solution.
In order to bring innovation into an organization it must create a culture of that supports innovation and creativity. Without first creating a corporate culture that supports creativity, organizations are unable to retain their recruits or worse these once creative souls will conform to the culture and unlearn their creativity. The organization must first develop a culture that values and encourages creativity.
Everyone can be creative. However, our education system and business environments cause them to unlearn their creativity.
If you doubt that everyone can be creative just ask yourself, â€œWho are the most creative people on the planet?â€ Children! If you watch children play you will see amazing creativity and innovation. Every child is creative and since the probability is very high that every one in your organization was, at one time, a child then everyone in your organization has the ability within himself or herself to be creative. The impact the environment has on creativity was demonstrated by a study conducted by George Land and Beth Jarman. They gave 1,600 five-year olds a creativity test used by NASA in selecting innovative engineers and scientists, and 98 percent of the five year olds scored in the â€œhighly creativeâ€ range. Those same children were re-tested five years later, only 30 percent of the 10 year-olds still rated â€œhighly creativeâ€. Again five year later at age 15, only 12 percent ranked â€œhighly creativeâ€. It appears that every year a child spend in our educational system reduce their ability to be creative.Â Land and Jarman tested over 200,000 adults over the age of 25 and only 2 percent were ranked as â€œhighly creative.â€ Creativity is not learned it is unlearned.
In the next few posts I will discuss some specific ideas on how to build creativity in your organization.