Tag Archive | Social Sciences

Managing innovation? First freeing creativity

Managing Innovation Freeing Creativity

Innovation & creativity: 2 things different

Innovation and creativity are not the same thing. This might not come as a big revelation, but too often companies treat the two as if they’re one and the same. Here’s a simple way to tell the difference: If you can measure it, it’s innovation. This week’s lead Searchlight item talks about the metrics you can use for managing innovation, starting with the importance of using a common language when crafting ideas into innovations.

Common language is a key first step, author Drew Marshall says, because your employees who have the biggest ideas might not technically be your innovators. They might have the ideas but not know what to do with them. Top companies like Google famously set aside time for employees to explore innovation — but what they’re really encouraging, Marshall contends, is that necessary first step — some free time for minds to wander.

Creativity first!

Creativity precedes innovation. Last summer at the Gartner Inc. Catalyst conference in San Diego, I joined a packed hall of IT leaders who sat in rapt attention during a keynote address from famed graffiti artist (and former entrepreneur) Erik Wahl. Bounding around the stage and through the audience, he encouraged people to remember and embrace the creative freedom of their youth, pausing only to paint perfect pieces of pop art before their eyes.

The audience exploded into a standing ovation, which to me translated as “Yes! Get me a canvas!” There was definitely a buzz, and maybe that buzz carried people through the day. Maybe it was just the pep talk some of them needed to get their creative juices flowing again. Here’s hoping that back home, those big ideas were met with the guidance needed to transform them into real-life innovations.

Check out SearchCIO’s own coverage of these topics Boston CIO uniting citizens and the city through gamification CIO advises focus on making mobile applications ‘killer apps’ Cracking the big data analysis code Before you run out and buy a set of oil paints, check out the rest of this week’s roundup which includes a look at perhaps the most critical battle in the data wars — the next killer mobile app, why Facebook is so last year and more. Your employees are simply endless founts of creativity, but the world will never know it unless you know about managing innovation. Data doesn’t get much bigger than this. Forget about companies owning information that helps them target you as a consumer; next week the Supreme Court will consider whether companies can own and patent human genes.

Teenagers sick of something? Can’t be! It’s not surprising that teens are tiring of Facebook; but for the sake of knowing your future customers and employees, it’s useful to note that a new study shows they’re drifting from traditional social networking altogether. Once just considered a cheap alternative to texting, messaging may be emerging as “the killer app in mobile.” It’s those darn teenagers again. (This may shed some light on Facebook Home.)

Don’t view these findings about consumer shopping preferences as an excuse to keep your mobile e-commerce app on the back burner. Read the article, take a deep breath and get back to work! For once when the government is accused of playing games, it can take pride in the barb — it’s using gamification to improve the nation.

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TOP20 to Boost Your Creativity


Creativity is all about finding new ways of solving problems and approaching situations. This isn’t a skill restricted to artists, musicians or writers; it is a useful skill for people from all walks of life. If you’ve ever wanted to boost your creativity, these tips can help.

1. Commit Yourself to Developing Your Creativity

The first step is to fully devote yourself to developing your creative abilities. Do not put off your efforts. Set goals, enlist the help of others and put time aside each day to develop your skills.

2. Become an Expert

One of the best ways to develop creativity is to become an expert in that area. By having a rich understanding of the topic, you will be better able to think of novel or innovative solutions to problems.

3. Reward Your Curiosity

One common roadblock to developing creativity is the sense that curiosity is an indulgence. Rather than reprimanding yourself, reward yourself when you are curious about something. Give yourself the opportunity to explore new topics.

4. Realize that Creativity is Sometimes Its Own Reward

While rewarding yourself is important, it is also important to develop intrinsic motivation. Sometimes, the true reward of creativity is the process itself, not the product.

5. Be Willing to Take Risks

When it comes to building your creative skills, you need to be willing to take risks in order to advance your abilities. While your efforts may not lead to success every time, you will still be boosting your creative talents and building skills that will serve you well in the future.

6. Build Your Confidence

Insecurity in your abilities can suppress creativity, which is why it is important to build confidence. Make note of the progress you have made, commend your efforts and always be on the lookout for ways to reward your creativity.

7. Make Time for Creativity

You won’t be able to develop your creative talents if you don’t make time for them. Schedule some time each week to concentrate on some type of creative project.

8. Overcome Negative Attitudes that Block Creativity

According to a 2006 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, positive moods can increase your ability to think creatively. According to Dr. Adam Anderson, senior author of the study, “If you are doing something that requires you be creative or be in a think tank, you want to be in a place with good mood.” Focus on eliminating negative thoughts or self-criticisms that may impair your ability to develop strong creative skills.

9. Fight Your Fear of Failure

The fear that you might make a mistake or fail in your efforts can paralyze your progress. Whenever you find yourself harboring such feelings, remind yourself that mistakes are simply part of the process. While you may occasionally stumble on your path to creativity, you will eventually reach your goals.

10. Brainstorm to Inspire New Ideas

Brainstorming is a common technique in both academic and professional settings, but it can also be a powerful tool for developing your creativity. Start by suspending your judgment and self-criticism, then start writing down related ideas and possible solutions. The goal is to generate as many ideas as possible in a relatively short span of time. Next, focus on clarifying and refining your ideas in order to arrive at the best possible choice.

11. Realize That Most Problems Have Multiple Solutions

The next time to approach a problem, try looking for a variety of solutions. Instead of simply going with the first idea you have, take the time to think of other possible ways to approach the situation. This simple activity is a great way to build both your problem-solving and creative thinking skills.

12. Keep a Creativity Journal

Start keeping a journal to follow your creative process and track the ideas you produce. A journal is a great way to reflect back on what you have accomplished and look for other possible solutions. This journal can be used to save ideas that can later serve as future inspiration.

13. Create a Mind Map

A mind map is a great way to connect ideas and look for innovative answers to questions. Create a mind map by writing down a central topic or word. Next, link related terms or ideas around the central word. While similar to brainstorming, this technique allows for branching ideas and offers a very visual way of seeing how these ideas are linked.

14. Challenge Yourself

Once you have developed some basic creative skills, it is important to continually challenge yourself in order to further advance your abilities. Look for more difficult approaches, try out new things and avoid always using the same solutions you have used in the past.

15. Try the “Six Hats” Technique

The “six hats” technique involves looking at a problem from six differing perspectives. By doing this, you can produce more ideas than you might have had you only looked at the situation from one or two points of view.

1) Red Hat: Look at the situation emotionally. What do your feelings tell you?
2) White Hat: Look at the situation objectively. What are the facts?
3) Yellow Hat: Use a positive perspective. Which elements of the solution will work?
4) Black Hat: Use a negative perspective. Which elements of the solution won’t work?
5) Green Hat: Think creatively. What are some alternative ideas?
6) Blue Hat: Think broadly. What is the best overall solution?

16. Look for Sources of Inspiration

Never expect creativity to just happen. Look for new sources of inspiration that will give you fresh ideas and motivate you to generate unique answers to questions. Read a book, visit a museum, listen to your favorite music or engage in a lively debate with a friend. Utilize whatever strategy or technique works best for you.

17. Create Opportunities for Creativity

In addition to looking for inspiration, you also need to create your own opportunities for creativity. This might involve tackling a new project or finding new tools to use in your current projects.

18. Consider Alternative Scenarios

When approaching a problem, utilize “what if…” questions to consider each possible scenario. If you take a specific approach, what will the outcome be? By looking at these alternatives beforehand, you’ll be better able to develop creative solutions to problems.

19. Create a Flow Chart

When you are developing a new project, start by creating a flow chart to track the presentation of the project from start to finish. Look for various paths or sequences of events that might occur. A flow chart can help you visualize the final product, eliminate potential problems and create unique solutions.

20. Try the Snowball Technique

Have you ever noticed how one great idea often leads directly to another? You can take advantage of this by utilizing a “snowball technique” when you are generating ideas for your project. If the idea isn’t appropriate for your current work, set it aside to work on later or implement it in a future project.

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Why uncreative companies survive?


We Don’t Want to Innovate!

“Creativity? What’s that? I don’t want my people to be creative”, said the owner and CEO of a very successful company. About ten years later his company, an important financial services company, has grown very profitably and it is still doing very well.

We often say that today companies have no option but innovate or die. Yet why do some uncreative organizations survive and even do well?

There are no competitors

Monopolies can flourish for many different reasons – regulation, small market size, government control. But also some monopolies have produced incredible innovation: NASA landing man on the moon, the state health system of Germany and France. Many have succeeded in prolonging stagnation. The catholic church took hundreds of years after incontrovertible proof was provided to accept that the earth revolves around the sun, and it did so only when science became perceived as a true competitor to religious dogma.

Competitors are even less innovative

“The one-eyed man reigns in the kingdom of the blind” goes an old Greek saying. Or, as some have said in the modern conference room, when a bear is chasing you and your friend, you don’t need to run faster than the bear, just faster than your friend. Being slightly innovative when most others are entirely uncreative does indeed give a competitive edge. And for a variety of reasons some sectors/countries/niches etc are clearly slower to change than others. In these cases companies are clearly “getting away” with little or no innovation. The question is for how long?

Innovation works well at one level only

While the full innovation potential of an organization may not be realized, it is quite possible that it is or has been by design or default quite innovative at some time and place. The case of pharmaceutical companies with brilliant product innovation in spite of unimaginative marketing comes to mind. Or the opposite where brilliantly innovative marketers sell products that leave much to be desired.

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How to encourage creative thinking?


Almost every creative thinking tool or process encourages you to be creative with ideas. It seems logical, doesn’t it?

If you want creative ideas, pump your creativity into generating them. Based on what we know about how the brain generates ideas, however, it’s wrong. You should focus your creativity on how you formulate your goals.

To understand why, let’s take a peak into our brains. When you are trying to generate ideas to achieve a goal, your brain looks for ideas closely associated with the goal. For instance, if you are trying to come up with ideas for a new body lotion product, your brain will most likely search through your notions related to body lotion. You will think about your company’s products, your competitors’ products, packaging and so on. Most likely, you will come up with ideas that could lead to incremental improvement, like lotion with perfumes or for special skin types.

Focus Creativity on Sexy Goals

How your formulate your goal inspires the kind of ideas you have. So, instead of using a typical, boring brainstorming kind of problem statement, you should concentrate on questioning the goal and the urges you to use your creativity to come up with a sexy goal — that is a goal that is interesting, provocative and desirable. The purpose of the sexy goal is to stimulate you to look in unexpected parts of your memory storage system — or brain — for ideas.

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