The 3 Components of Creativity

Managers need to understand that there are 3 parts to creativity (network of "possible wandering")

1. Expertise - this encompasses everything known to a person, irrespective of where it was gained (formal education, practical experience or interaction with others)

2. Creative-thinking skills - the ability to think flexibly and imaginatively; a cognitive style conducive to having new perspectives on problems

3. Motivation - driven by deep interest and involvement in the work, curiosity, enjoyment or a personal sense of challenge. Motivation is in 2 parts: intrinsic and extrinsic ‐ with the former being far more essential for creativity

Expertise and creative thinking are in an individual's mind, while motivation determines what people will actually do and is consequently most important to outcomes. Extrinsic motivation comes from outside, such as in response to a carrot-and-stick approach. The most common extrinsic motivation managers use is money, but this method is not guaranteed to enhance people's creativity.

On the other hand, passion and the interest fuelled by a person's internal desire to do something are far more powerful motivators. The work itself (its interest, satisfaction and challenge) becomes the motivating force and can be expressed as

organisational development change management

Managers can influence the level of expertise and creative thinking skills, but this strategy can be slow and costly. In order to influence outcomes, rewards and other incentives can be effectively used to heighten an employee's intrinsic motivation.

To achieve this, there are 6 levers to pull:

1. The amount of challenge given to employees, ie matching employees to the right assignment so that they are stretched but not overwhelmed

2. The degree of freedom granted regarding the process but not necessarily the ends (the goals). This can be mismanaged by changing the goals too frequently or goals not being clearly defined or paying mere lip service to autonomy and empowerment.

3. Provision of adequate resources, such as time, money and physical space. Time can be mismanaged with fake deadlines or impossibly tight ones. At times, the right physical space is given increased attention while the more important actions, such as matching people to the right assignments and granting freedom around work processes, are neglected

4. The design of work groups, ie must create mutually-supportive groups with a diversity of perspectives and backgrounds - different expertise and creative thinking styles so that ideas often combine and combust in exciting and useful ways. In addition to diversity, the group must share excitement over its goal, and individuals must display willingness to help team-mates through difficult periods and setbacks. Furthermore, every individual must recognise the unique knowledge and perspectives that other members bring to the table. Homogeneous teams may generate little conflict, but the under-stimulation resulting from too little diversity achieves less-than-optimum outcomes.

5. The level of supervisory encouragement , ie to sustain intrinsic motivation, supervisors have to actively encourage the creative environment and have open minds, despite the uncertainty of the possible gains from creativity. On the other hand, negative bias (such as failing to acknowledge innovative efforts or by greeting them with scepticism, an unnecessarily long drawn-out and bureaucratic, evaluation process, punishment of failures/mistakes and repression of open critical comment with its culture of fear), can kill creativity

6. The nature of organisational support, ie an organisation, especially the senior management, must ensure that people are assigned correctly, that the appropriate systems or procedures are in place and that values encouraging creative efforts such as rewards and recognition (this is more than just financial) are explicitly reinforced. Information sharing and collaboration supports creativity. On the other hand, in-fighting, politicking and gossip hinder creativity.

Take challenge as an example : intrinsic motivation is high when employees feel challenged, but not overwhelmed, by their work. Thus the task of managers becomes matching people to the right assignments.

Consider freedom : intrinsic motivation and creativity soar when managers let people decide how to achieve goals, not what goals to achieve

Thinking creatively is how people approach problems and solutions, and incorporates their capacity to put existing ideas together in new combinations. This skill depends on the personality as well as how a person thinks and works.

Fostering creativity is in the hands of managers as they think about, design and establish the work environment. When creativity is stifled, an organisation loses a potential competitive weapon ‐ new ideas.

(source: Teresa Amalite, 1998)


(source: Sylia Duckworth, 2017)

In discussing creativity, there can be 3 different horizons

i) horizon 1 (creativity comes through incremental application of existing technology and is determined by market forces of the core business)

ii) horizon 2 (build and grow new businesses using strategic and entrepreneur creativity; creating something to fill a gap in the marketplace)

iii) horizon 3 (it is futuristic; looking for discontinuities in the frontiers of science and technology; creativity is pure innovation)

From an investment point of view, it is recommended that a ratio of 6:3:1 in dollars be invested across horizons 1, 2 and 3

(source: Joanna Maxwell, 2004)

The use of informal meeting areas as places of creativity, ie

- staff canteens

- corridor meetings

- informal social get-together

The importance of these informal meeting areas is often under-rated , especially as these informally-created interactions are, by their very nature, unpredictable and non-linear . There are no guarantees that any new, useful or relevant ideas will emerge. However, this unpredictable process is required for creativity to be realised, ie creativity all too often emerges at the edge . This dynamic zone oscillates between stifling order and complete freedom - here is where new ideas can emerge, ie in creative chaos.

Never underestimate the value of informal brainstorming that can generate ideas through random conversations and relationships

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