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| On 05, Aug 2007

Praveen Gupta

I am always surprised at people being amazed of innovation and ignorant of creativity in the work place. Innovation is a buzzword in the business world today, while creativity is perceived to be of some nuisance. It is perceived that innovation has something to do with business, while creativity is just an art. This may be half true. Innovation cannot happen without creativity.

There is a misunderstanding about some people being creative. Experts have developed many creativity tools. People take creativity lessons. The question is, “Are we not creative?” A book titled Creativity: Genius and Other Myths by Robert Weisberg is an excellent work of research. I remember reading Weisberg’s book some time ago. Accordingly, people are born creative. What is the evidence? We never do the same thing twice exactly the same way. Methods of brainstorming are less effective than individual thinking as in the brainstorming meeting, a few aggressive individuals shut the remaining participating peoples’ brains. He proved it through an experiment between actual brainstorming sessions, and individual thinkers grouped nominally later. There were more average ideas per person in the nominal group than in the brainstorming session.

Research has documented that the average IQ of a Nobel laureate is not much different from a normal physicist; a similar observation holds between great architects and the normal people.

Innovation is always born out of creative ideas. Most highly trained brains remain underutilized, or not allowed to think at work. If a business is to introduce new products or processes faster, we need to promote employee creativity before one of them becomes a great innovation. We cannot expect a breakthrough innovation by curbing employee curiosity, education, and ability to think freely.

What do you think about role of creativity in innovation? How could businesses promote creativity? Or, if you have any questions, please share them with us.