Father and Son Playing

Everyone is creative!

We don’t subscribe to the idea that some people are creative and others are not. Everybody was a child once and children are the most creative beings on the planet. When children play, they don’t need iPads or other smart devices – their imagination creates all they need. Have you ever seen what a child can make of a cardboard box? One moment it’s a car with the child providing the engine sounds and pretending to hold the steering wheel. The next minute it’s a boat, or a house or a hideout – the possibilities are limitless!

But..

However, that creative part of us is dampened by conventional education. Education and schooling forces us to look for “the right answer” or the “right method or process” – this results in most people becoming too ‘left brain’ in their thinking (i.e. very analytical and logical). This becomes their ‘default’ thinking mode while their innovative or creative ‘right brain’ is used much less – it’s still there, just not used so much.

So too with organisations

It’s not a question of whether an organisation is or is not creative – it’s a question of where they are on the ‘less-creative” ——– “more creative” continuum.

Most managers in every type of organisation are selected for their ‘left brain’ capabilities of numeracy, logical analysis, sequential decision-making, risk-aversion, etc. These are desirable qualities for managing. However, this then has a very strong influence on the company’s mindset and creates a cycle of influence on the selection of future managers which thus further strengthens the company’s mindset. To survive and prosper in these environments, even right-brain thinkers learn to adapt their thinking-style and outwardly present their thinking as numerical, logical and analytical.

The result of this is that companies tend to do what they have always done – look for tried and tested solutions to new problems. Unfortunately, our fast moving and ever changing world is usually not responsive to these old, tried and tested solutions. Fresh thinking and new solutions are required.

Image by Marvin Meyer
Image by Kvalifik

So how? Big steps or little steps?

Many creativity or innovation practitioners advocate that companies need to change their cultures in order to be more creative. There are two problems with this approach. Firstly, more than 70% of all culture change initiatives fail and do a lot of damage in the process. Usually only companies that require an urgent response to dire circumstances will even chance doing so. Secondly, any established company has survived to now on doing things a certain way and they are not going to completely abandon that which has served them well – “our way of doing things” thinking will rightly prevail.

 

So, even when companies come to the realisation that new ways of thinking are required in order not to become obsolete, or that they need “more creativity” or “more innovation” to grow or even to just survive, there will still be huge internal resistance to change or to going “too far” with such a change. This is a natural, and to be expected, reaction.

Anew Innovation’s Approach

Small steps or incremental change will be more acceptable and have a better chance of success. The way to introduce creativity and innovation processes and techniques into a company is to firstly assure them that they must be doing something right because they have survived this far, and that whatever this ‘right way’ is should be preserved into the future. Now that they know that changing everything is not on the agenda, little changes or some small new ways are more acceptable! They are then more amiable to accepting and using an “additional” way of thinking and using creativity techniques.

 

And as they use each new technique or move through a new creativity process (which is effectively a new way of thinking about a problem), they move, incrementally, to the “more creative” end of the “less-creative” ——— “more creative” continuum – they incrementally become more innovative with minimum disruption.

Image by Jason Goodman