Author: Catherine Garcia
Innovation And Creativity In Organizations
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Innovation & Creativity in Organizations
Introduction: Innovation is the spark that makes good companies
great. It's not just
invention but also a style of corporate behavior comfortable with
new ideas and risk.
Companies that know how to innovate don't necessarily throw money
into R.& D.
Instead they cultivate a new style of corporate behavior that is
comfortable with new
ideas, change, risk and even failure, according to "Americas most
fortune, March 3, 1997.
Joseph V. Anderson has defined creativity as "nothing more than
going beyond the
current boundaries, whether those are boundaries of technology,
practices, social norms, or beliefs. Creativity is nothing more than
seeing and acting on
new relationships thereby bringing them to life. While there are
many definitions of
innovation, it is defined here very simply: using creativity to add
value. Value can be
economic, social, psychological, or aesthetic.
Creativity is not a personality trait available to only a few.
Research has shown everyone
has some creativity, but it has been stifled by Freud's thinking
that artistry and creativity
are associated with mental illness and the scientific emphasis on
There are 120 different, special, and measurable aspects of creative
particularly distinguish humans from other species. These
wide-ranging creative faculties
have been, and continue to be, critical to mankind's ability to
adapt to changing
situations, environments, and systems. Extensive
studies of creative thinking have firmly
established that individuals exhibiting higher than average scores
in creative thinking also
exhibit higher than average scores in areas of mental emotional
health course of
instruction is applied imagination produce significant gains in
personality traits such as
confidence, self-reliance, persuasiveness, initiative, and
persuasiveness, initiative, and
leadership. The challenge is to create an environment that will
bring out the creativity of
everyone and make those who have demonstrated creativity even more
The social can most definitely affect intrinsic motivation. A study
has identified six
factors of environmental stimulants to creativity ( freedom,
supervisory encouragement, work group supports, organizational
sufficient resources) and two environmental obstacles to creativity
roadblocks and excessive workload pressure)
A creative environment requires more than providing intrinsic
rewards. It requires
rethinking organizational designs. We have made organizations fit
models by putting responsibilities into functions and people into
roles with boundaries
and a secure sense of control.
The Newtonian model of the world is characterized by reductionism,
predictability, equilibrium, and control.
The new model challenges us to accept that organizations are fluid,
chaotic, and subject
to unseen fields of energy, present concepts of leadership must
change. Gone is the
heretical model with the person at the top controlling everyone by
information? No one person possesses all of the knowledge or skills
to control a fluid,
rapidly evolving system. Leading gives way to facilitating
relationships in a system
where knowledge and skill are networked.
Leadership in the new organization consists of
facilitating shared values. This
facilitatorship must take place in an environment that has
relationships that freely share
ownership, information, and ideas. Facilitation and sharing are
basic to creative problem
solving. Creative problem solving is needed to transform an
organization into a
continuously innovative one.
The steps to integrate creativity into a decisive decision involves
many steps. Listed in
order of development:
Opportunities, problems, causes
Evaluation of alternatives
Taking innovation one-step further the Osborn Parnes model stresses
rules that must apply to each stage: Withholding judgment,
a quantity of ideas, and hitchhiking on the ideas of other.
Judging more than any other event will shut down idea generation.
Judging is a
psychological threat. Unfortunately, our culture has taught us that
large doses of
judgment are perquisites for extrinsic rewards.
Hitchhiking creates ideas that combine the best ideas of everyone on
the team. It can
also help during implementation if all members see a piece of their
idea in the final
Creating an environment that is tolerant of mistakes is difficult.
It must be made clear
that mistakes are acceptable if they are based on solid thinking,
enhance learning of
what will not work, and are caught early before damage is severe.
There must be
support for the people who were on the team of the project that
The Kirton Adapter Innovator (KAI) inventory measures preferred
problem- solving. The adaptor prefers to be creative within the
present system. The
innovator wants to create new definitions of the problem and new
systems. Thus, both
types are creative, but their styles are different. Adapters include
accountants, production managers, and programmers. Innovators
include persons in
marketing, finance, and fashion buyers.
Thomas Edison had all the characteristics of a risk taker innovator.
He was a
divergent thinker, making observations about the natural world. He
was not afraid of
failure. The lessons learned in one of his failures led to success
in another project. In
addition to the light bulb, his 1,093 patents included familiar ones
such as the
microphone & batteries.
Creative leadership must facilitate positive relationships in
organizations to produce
profitable growth through innovation. We now know that creativity is
personality trait that is available for geniuses. Everyone has
unique knowledge and
experiences that can be tapped, given the proper
environment. This environment must
be free flowing and non-judging to take people through the mental
block they learned
in early childhood. These blocks are associated with the risk of
The motivation for innovating comes largely from the joy of doing
something that has
never been done before. It is like going on an expedition and
risking everything to be
the first person to climb a mountain or sail around the world. It
taps the same drive
that exists within a composer or an artist who wishes to create
What seems to stop the flow of creativity and innovations within
We've all experienced meetings where we've asked our staffs for
their thoughts and
ideas. We needed their creativity, innovation, and insight to
resolve problems or to
take advantage of opportunities. Their response or lack thereof, was
We ask ourselves why does this happen? Many factors come into play.
Fear. This discourages idea sharing. No one likes to look stupid in
front of peers.
Ideas are very personal. Presenting an idea in public puts the ideas
creator in a glaring
When we were young, we became conditioned. The humiliation we
when we gave the "wrong" answer to the teacher's question in front
of all of our
classmates. The fear of public humiliation is enough to keep the
Self-assessment. Before we will ever state an idea out long, we play
it over and over
in our heads. We look for different ways to discredit our own ideas,
eventually discard the thought. Too often, we
believe we have nothing of merit to
provide because we didn't work directly within an issue or in a
We tend to keep our thought to ourselves if they pertain to areas we
Not my problem. You stay in your turf and I'll stay in mine. If you
want other people
to stay out of your business, then you had better stay out of
On one hand, the silence could be an issue of reciprocating turf
again, it could simply be motivated by slightly tilted dedication to
If the problem isn't directly with the scope of our assigned duties
we might hold back. When the hope that our colleagues will do the
same down the
road when something comes up in our area.
The remedies to these situations are really quite simple. The first
thing you and your
managers must do is to keep solicit ting ideas. Never stop asking
what your staff are
thinking, what opportunities they see that you and others might have
them a safe environment for sharing. No boundaries. All ideas are
good ideas. It's
simply a matter of some ideas being more doable then others.
It's extremely important to your staff's development to be
continually challenged by
what they do. Boredom and routine kill creative thinking and problem
mind, like other muscles, needs to be exercised regularly.
The work we once did with our hands is done increasingly in our
heads. The United
States is transitioning into an idea economy where innovation is
industrialization, and creativity is the key to selling products and
Employees with a creative side are leading the
way into the idea economy. About 38
million workers, roughly 30 percent of the work force are employed
professions, and the numbers keep growing.
Today, highly skilled workers see themselves as artists who need
space to think and
create. Heavy-handed management just gets in the way of the creative
To manage the creative enterprise is as much as art as science.
Creative people are
driven by exciting work more than by a paycheck, and they need to
themselves through their work. A mind set foreign to many employers.
To manage creative people, feedback is important because creative
more emotionally involved with their work. The brainstorming and
is the desirable process for a creative mind. A manager should
articulate the vision
and goals to the creative employee and then let him go and create.
It is important not
to over manage.
Creative people are not the best time managers. Time management is
not their strong
suit. therefore a manager must set perimeters from the beginning of
A manager should also be flexible with scheduling because creativity
employees need to get away from the four walls to come up with new
need time to go somewhere they can get inspired and be creative,
because that is what
they are being paid for.
On a larger perspective, for a nation, to be healthy and creative it
must have the
ability to renew itself constantly. This applies to companies,
Innovation is risky not just for the individual
but especially for large companies.
Studies show that the probability of economic success from
innovation is between
20% and 30%. It takes guts to live with risk, get creative and
As a 20% to 30% success rate, it becomes necessary to improve the
success. Leadership is of course the first key to success.
requires a clear vision defined by the leadership of the
organization as well as the
creation of an environment where this vision can be shared by
combination of vision and environment is called strategic context.
on it to harness their creativity. Without a clear strategic
context, creativity may
blossom, but it will be misplaced. Strategic context gives purpose
benchmarks and role models. It shows the way ahead.
The second key to success is to learn how to manage risk. This means
that senior and
junior players in an organization act as innovators and
entrepreneurs, and that they
can inspire others to do the same. Taking risks is not just about
jumping in foolishly,
but assessing in a cool and rational way what the risks are and
preparing for them.
Innovation inevitably starts with creativity. Many of us have some
creativity and it is
the organizations role to provide an environment where we dare to be
Innovation is essentially an "enterprise of enterprise": it is a
risky effort that must be
borne by the whole organization. In order to implement innovation
organization has to take ownership of it.
Once innovation is in place then comes implementation. Edison once
success is 2% inspiration and 98% perspiration. The best ideas can
get lost in beau
racy as well as in weighty details. This way, under situations of
project management is so vital. Managing the unknowable requires
management, as well as being flexible and so on. Time is also a
and, to be innovative, speed in implementation
must move along in a timely manner
without compromising quality.
A last key to insure success is marketing. In a competitive world
originality and genius are rare, good marketing is the innovators
most important key
to insure success.
Home Depot Motivating their workforce
"The greatness of our company is the sum of the actions of our
people," said Annettee
Verschuren, President of the Home Depot.
Every retailer knows that motivated and passionate store level
employees are the key
to ensuring customer satisfaction and financial success.
Home Depot has to be considered one of retailing's great companies
because of the
financial success the company has achieved.
Verschuren said that when she became president of the Home Depot in
were only 19 stores doing approximately $1 billion in annual sales.
Now annual sales
are approximately $ 4 billion.
Home Depot's success has mirrored its success
in the United States. In 1997, Home
Depot's total sales were $24.2 billion and by the end of last year,
they had increased
to $53.6 billion.
Verschuren said that to get there will require the addition of
$40,000 new employees
each year, all of which also have to be highly motivated and
passionate about the
business. "You have to make your full team business partners with
you. They are
your competitive advantage", Verschuren said. "Take care of your
people and they
will take care of your company.
Verschuren highlighted six areas that are essential for ensuring a
performance. There has to be an emotional appeal so that the
employers feel good
about the company. "Verschuren adds that many of our most successful
customers that have fallen in love with the company.
There also must be a high level of trust in the products and
services that are being
sold. Management must have vision and leadership and the workplace
has to be favorable.
Home Depot offers part-time employees health care benefits and a
They work very hard to ensure that each store is a positive
Recommendations & Analysis:
As a CEO of a large organization, I strive continually to insure an
instills psychological safety for my staff.
Present in my view, is the reality that without
fresh new ideas on a continual basis,
innovation and growth are thwarted. My company cannot afford to hit
To provide the right environment a leader must be perceived as
leader's job is to work very hard to capture the trust and respect
of his followers and
staff. If a staff member feels intimidated and / or fearful they
will just perform there
job. Worse yet, they will not enjoy the job that they are
performing. This is
unacceptable to me as a CEO. The working environment must and should
be a whole,
balanced life perspective.
As the organization that I lead adopts a balanced life perspective
and philosophy, we
embrace the attitude that the employee has needs and interests
outside of the work
force. With this in mind, the organization has a more relaxed
attitude integrating a
more flexible work schedule.
As the employees work schedule is more conducive to their lifestyle,
they can feel
more relaxed and cared for as a whole. With the interest of the
employer evident as a
strong support mechanism the employee is free to be free from the
legalism as well as fear, thereby, releasing the creative and
innovative resources that
My analysis consists of observing various organizations that have a
work environment. My observation lends me the freedom to assess that
most of those
systems are archaic and outdated. The baby boomers of the past are
retirement age and their work style is outdated.
The style for our current workforce is
obviously teamwork, stressing cooperative
brainstorming. The idea is that as a "whole" the group will produce
and solve problems more rapidly with overall agreement and buy-in.
The concept that I referred to earlier as piggybacking is very
similar to this team
approach. One idea generates to another and then another. Some in
the field of
leadership call this synergy. Solutions, new concepts as well as
ideas come shining through as the group processes ideas back and
I believe whole-heartedly that the workforce other than a compliance
adopt this new and very successful way of operating.
To further my point is to analysis the current level of employees
that work from
within their homes. This is a very cost effective way for employers
to operate their
operations. The new technology allows for accountability with each
though they are working from their home office.
The virtual network interacts with all employees as they are tapped
company's network. Each can share information and with emails
without every having to have a face to face.
My idea is that without the face-to-face employees are more
comfortable to release
some of their precious and very profitable ideas. Ten years ago, the
not in place to provide this type of working environment.
How wonderful it is to have advanced to this point. Virtually,
global companies exist
without having bricks and mortar buildings, but have blossomed into
Times are ever changing and change is inevitable. To not see and
catch this wave as a
CEO of an organization would be very sad for the organization that
they lead. Yes, it
does mean letting go of some control but what the CEO obtains in
doing so is more
innovation, creativity, profitability and a happier workforce. Not a
bad exchange if
the company can weather the change.
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