In surveys I have done on executives attending my seminars, more than nine out of 10 say that creativity is something that they and their teams are expected to demonstrate – but nothing is done about it. So it seems that there is a lot of lip-service paid to creativity but not much serious action.
All this is understandable. If things are going well, who needs creativity? But if things are going badly then there is no time for the uncertainties of creativity.
There are a few people who enjoy the challenge of creativity and the sense of achievement that comes with the development of a new idea. There would be many more such people if our education system made a genuine effort to foster creativity. Instead, it turn out individuals who tend to be very good at learning 'the rules of the game' and then following those rules.
If we regard creativity as an inborn talent which some people have and others do not, then we just look for creative people. But if we regard creativity as the 'skill' of using information in a patterning system like the brain, then everyone can develop the skill of creativity.
Confidence is a key factor in creative effort. Those who have succeeded in having creative ideas in the past are much more willing to make a creative effort. They know from experience that new ideas are possible. They have experienced the joy and achievement of having a new idea. This is a very powerful motivation. Sometimes it can even be too powerful, when people want to do everything in a new way!
To get creativity into an organisation you must make it an 'expectation'. At the end of every meeting, the chairperson must allocate the last 15 minutes to 'anyone who is exploring a new idea'. If no one has anything to say, they are told they are not doing their job.
A creative 'Hit List' of areas that need new thinking is produced and made visible to everyone. Executives are expected to work on items from this list – either as individuals or as assigned teams.
It is usually up to the CEO or someone senior to set the tone of the expectation. It needs to become part of the corporate culture.
It is not a matter of putting new ideas into action. In the end this is what matters. But the effort to have ideas is key. It is important to be always exploring new ideas. If this is the attitude and the action is then usable, powerful ideas will be found. Having ideas must be acknowledged as an achievement and as a worthy ambition.
If new ideas are an expectation, if having new ideas is an expected part of the 'game', then people will make an effort to have new ideas. They will have new ideas. Their confidence will grow and eventually there will be a creative organisation.
It is also important to learn how to be creative. Attitude is important, but it is not enough. To climb a mountain you need the intention and the right attitude – the belief that it can be done. But you also need to learn climbing skills. It is the same with creative thinking.