Informal Brainstorming, Innovation, Etc

Not appreciating the value of informal brainstorming that can occur from a random conversations and/or relationships. Associated with this is the need to be careful of groupthink and too many rules, regulations, processes, etc. The latter elements can be introduced for understandable reasons such as to prevent mishaps or to encourage the right behaviours or keep control. On the other hand, these can hinder creativity.

. Need to be careful of creating complex processes, etc, to encourage the generation of ideas as these processes can hinder creativity. On the other hand, need to be careful of over-simplifying things, such as 6 steps to creativity, as this can restrict creativity. More often than not, the creative ideas involve discovering obscure or subtle elements that are already present but we have not realized their importance.

. Not establishing 3 conditions needed for sparking creativity and innovation; as identified by Lynda Gratton, (2007):

i) co-operative mindset - where people feel that they are working with, not against, each other

ii) boundary spanning - people need to come in contact with others who are different from themselves in expertise, geography, culture, background, etc

iii) igniting purpose - a problem to solve, a task to complete, a vision to pursue.

These 3 things are combined with productive capacity and the talent of people to create the necessary sparks for creativity.

It is interesting to note that around 60 percent of what we talk about is recycled knowledge - the stuff we already know. This highlights the need to bring in different people to interact with each other. The challenges are to create organisation where strangers meet and which tap into the power of the volunteer. It has been demonstrated that women have a large impact on the innovative capacity of teams, basically because they bring another viewpoint.

. Need to realize that to maximise the benefits of innovation it cannot be controlled.

. Organisations need to look for creative thinkers and people who can deal with ambiguity and complexity plus be good collaborators. Diversity, openness and a democratic society all help to encourage different and creative thinking. Most innovative people are motivated by a higher sense of purpose than just making money. For example, some innovators need to know what they are doing will make the world a better place. In Google, staff are helping people lead a better life, an easier life and even saving lives as people can find relevant information very quickly.

. The trend of people being employed in non-secure employment, such as contractors, freelancers, temps, etc works against innovation as people who feel vulnerable are not necessarily the best innovators, ie they will take fewer risks which are necessary for innovation.

. Sometimes innovation is the process of putting known things together that were previously unrelated; it is not necessarily finding something new.

. Need to understand that people prefer the status quo and do not like being pushed out of their zone of comfort. As a result, throughout history creativity has had a tough time

"...just as human beings have a conservative bent, one that militates against educational innovation and interdisciplinary leaps, human society also strives to maintain the current form..."

Howard Gardner, 2006a

For example, very few innovators are honoured during their lifetimes. In fact, most were discouraged, and/or ridiculed and/or denounced, and/or persecuted, and/or imprisoned and/or killed, eg burned at the stake, etc at the time of their breakthrough. Some examples include Galileo, Bruno, Bach, Gogh, Mendel, Freud, Darwin, Keynes, etc.

On the other hand, it is claimed that our era is different, with instant access to innovations via communication technology such as the Internet so that whoever wants to can produce it; most innovations have a very short half-life

Not understanding the need to facilitate creativity, imagination, novelty, fantasy, play, innovation, brainstorming and simplicity (see volume 5 for more on this). For example, play is the activity of the mind that allows you to develop ideas, approaches and plans. This shows activity in the right hemisphere of your brain dominates and is where spontaneity, intuition and thinking occurs. On the other hand, the left side is where detail-oriented and analytical thoughts dominate. Ideally, you should be so engrossed in what you are doing that you lose self-consciousness and any notion of time; you are in a state of excitement. In this frame of mind you will tolerate some drudgery as you are imaginatively engaged in your work. Furthermore, you are willing to have a go at difficult goals and accept some pain to achieve these goals. This is linked with a phenomenon called synaptic plasticity, ie stimulating nerve connections involved in the activity strengthens the neural pathways and makes what was difficult at first, easier the next time you try do it

"... people rarely succeed at anything unless they are having fun doing..."

Southwest Airlines has quoted by Edward Hallowell (2011)

Furthermore, play builds your brain as it stimulates secretion of brain-derived neurotrophic factors, such as BDNF which promotes the nerve growth; play engages the amygdala that regulates emotions; it has a positive impact on the prefrontal cortex which is involved in activities linked with management such as planning, organising, prioritising, deciding, scheduling, anticipating, delegating and analysing.

. Sometimes being the underdog can encourage creativity and success. Underdog status means you have to try harder and develop better ways of doing things, better products and services, etc. Examples of being the underdog (Fiona Smith, 2010m) include

- Silicon Valley (USA) which is known for its high-tech creativity is dominated by underdogs, migrants and 2nd or 3rd generation immigrants

- Amsterdam (Europe) is another pocket of innovation where 60% of people under 21 don't have Dutch parents

On the other hand, success can allow complacency to become established and stifle creativity.


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