Organisations’ creativity and innovation
Organisations’ creativity and innovation by Guilherme Sette
What comes to your mind when you think of creativity and innovation? Some think about very special people and that creativity and innovation require an extraordinary talent. It’s associated to arts, science and great inventions.
In a wider perspective, creativity can be defined as the mental process of generating new ideas, by individuals or groups. A new idea might be a new product, a new piece of art, a new method or the solution to a problem. This definition has important implications, because, as a process, creativity can be studied, understood and improved.
Being creative is having the ability to generate original and useful ideas, in order to solve everyday issues. Is looking to the same things as everyone else but see and think differently. Let’s use the example of the Velcro creation. Velcro was created in 1941 by the swiss engineer Georges Mestral. In a hunting trip with his dog, both got covered in burdock seeds, which cause rashes. It must have been frustrating: imagine removing all the sticky seeds, one by one, from yourself and your dog. But, instead of getting into his nerves, he put his energy into something good. Georges noticed the interlocking filaments with tiny hooks: that was the cause for the seeds’ adherence to hair or fabric. He concluded to be possible to create a product which combines both materials in a simple manner, yet reversible. He developed and patented VELCRO, and then entered into the market through his company named Velcro S.A. The name mentions two words in French: velours (which means velvet) and crochet (meaning hook).
As previously seen in the example, without creative ideas, there’s nothing to implement. Moving on to the organisational field, the employees’ creativity and the organisation’s characteristics, including management practices, urge (or restrict) individual and team creativity.
In organisations, creativity is affected by the highest levels of leadership, by the strategies that are established, by the structures, politics and values they share. Creativity is affected by all levels of management, through everyday practices of managers dealing with individuals, teams and projects. Individual creativity is affected by the attitudes and behaviours from our co-workers, by means of interactions and team dynamics.
Many people mix up the terms “creativity” and “innovation”. Creativity and innovation at work are the processes, the outcomes and the products which come from trying to develop and introduce new and better ways of doing things. The creativity stage of this process refers to the generation of ideas, and innovation is the subsequent implementation of ideas to improve procedures, practices or products. Creativity and innovation may occur at the individual level, in teamwork, organisation or at more than one of these levels combined, but it will invariably result into benefits, identifiable at one or more of these levels of analysis.
The individual treatment of both terms is understandable, since innovation, as a process, necessarily includes creativity: the act of innovate includes the implementation of the initial creative idea. Besides, as the initial idea is shaped and developed during the implementation process, new ideas are commonly requested.
Therefore, it’s fundamental for organisations to pay attention and focus on the development of new ideas (creations) and, from there, implement those ideas (innovations), to acquire competitive advantages in relation to their competitors, to the market they’re in, generating differentiation and consequently, more profit, which is the main goal of all companies.
London School of Design and Marketing