Valuing Diversity and Creativity for Innovation

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Creativity is Personal Expression Stemming from Restlessness
Creativity is personal expression. It results from a restlessness to improve or change the status quo meaningfully, knowledgeably, responsibly and with impact. Psychologist Carl Jung wrote that creativity is an instinct—much like hunger, fear, sex, and flight. Researchers from the field of creative studies agree that creativity is the capacity to initiate change – and each person does that, in his or her own way. ‘In what ways are you creative?’ is the prevailing attitude rather than the archaic ‘how creative are you?’

Creativity = New ideas + New Decisions—the Fuel that Fires Innovation
Leading organizations embrace employees’ creativity. They value it as the fuel that fires innovation. They use it in any area of the business to generate options and opportunities and then make new decisions for growth.

To discover incomparably rewarding challenges, ideas and solutions, leaders can integrate creative processes within existing practices. They can invite higher participation and greater responsibility to action in two basic ways. First, they can support creative thinking behaviours and actions through using a simple three-step procedure to welcome and synthesize the input (outlined below). Second, leaders can recognize and encourage employees to speak from their own unique perspectives.

Diversity of Restlessness
Restlessnesses or motivations for creating can come from mainly one of four key energy needs to

  • build new bridges between people
  • make sure things run smoothly
  • act in the moment with impact
  • increase knowledge with intellectual challenge

These energies for adapting for survival within the environment have been recognized since the time of Hippocrates (450 B.C). When these core values are appreciated as specific and relevant sources of creative reference, employees’ willingness to contribute new ideas and new decisions increases.

People also become restless because they sense opportunities or obstacles based on other personal frameworks. Their sex, education, age, experience, culture and patterns for success are also valuable resource bases to tap to initiate meaningful progress. Diversity is supported in the natural environment: the larger the gene pool, the greater the likelihood for a species survival. New ideas from variety of sources likewise ensure that all the best ideas and practical knowledge is applied for corporate and organizational unit survival and growth. This is particularly relevant for companies now with the call for both incremental and revolutionary change to enliven the vision and mission.

Imagine…
Imagine the novel input teams can make when leaders appreciate the differences and help people voice their ideas safely. Imagine each employee—from the groundskeeper to the MD - personally contributing to creating his or her new business environment, one that promotes fresh thinking and new approaches to business that other will envy and admire. And imagine the success of the leader who can control employees’ release of creative inputs in meaningful ways.

How to Deliberately use Creativity for Innovation
To begin to integrate, honor and use the creative spirit within current practices, leaders can facilitate teams to:

  1. Generate options, many options, using a variety of techniques to pull on individual new idea and connection making. No judgement is involved—only the free flow of ideas that taps into and welcomes unconscious notions.
  2. Pair down these options into the ICE ideas, those which are Involving, Compelling, and Exciting. By doing this leaders tap into the emotional energy that fuels innovation in every aspect of the business.
  3. Finally, reformat the ICE ideas, modify them, expand or contract them to fit into the standards used for success. It is only in this stage that logic and critical thinking is applied.

Creativity must be Supported by the System and its Leaders
Management author Peter Drucker defines innovation as creating new dimensions of performance. Creating these new dimensions requires creative energy as fuel. Diversity of ideas is required for survival. Employees are emotionally engaged when asked to create something new, useful and surprising. They need to be properly supported by the system and its leaders for all to reap the rewards.

Resources
Segal, M. (2001) Creativity and Personality Type: Tools for Understanding and Inspiring the Many Voices of Creativity. Telos Publications.
Segal, M. (in press) Quick Guide to the Four Temperaments and Creativity: A Psychological Understanding of Innovation. Telos Publications.