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Raising awareness for creativity



A. identify the importance of education for creativity;
B. understand how creativity can be applied in your organization.

Leadership is commonly seen as an important variable afecting organizational performance. One way for leaders to encourage more creativity in the workplace is by studying the arts. Artists and business leaders have many similarities. Both have a guiding vision and a potent point of view, and can formulate an ideal, navigating chaos and the unknown to produce a new creation. Since all great art pushes boundaries beyond established norms, it can teach us about leadership, change, ambiguity, chaos, courage and creativity. The arts (painting, poetry, improvisation and storytelling) take us on adventures in creative expression that help us safely explore unknown territory, overcome fear and take risks.

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You can easily incorporate the arts in your workplace by asking people for stories about their best customer experience, or best boss, or best team experience. When envisioning the future, ask people to sketch what it looks like to them, and tell a story about the picture.
Organizational creativity depends on the leadership. Creative leaders need to seek opportunities for creating shared value even in the hardest of times and the most diffcult of circumstances. They need to support innovation initiatives and encourage their employees to share their ideas and opinion. Only then an organisation’s creativity can be improved.
It has become a truism that organizations today are facing a wider array of competitive pressures as never before. They must be constantly changing and innovating, reinventing themselves at internet speed to stay ahead of technological changes. So it has become of fundamental importance that what allows a company to respond proactively to diverse pressures is the development of creativity as a core competence, because creativity is what makes something better or new. In short, it is the best way to create value.

It is important to underline that there is no standard approach of creativity but the truth is that creativity definition must handle and adopt each new endeavour by selecting an approach that mates the situation. It depends on the goal to be achieved and innovation is just one of them. Consequently, we have to know were we need to go (the purpose), the appropriate means for getting there (the practises), and finally we need to select or develop people to carry out our initiatives.

So, the correct approach at creativity is fundamentally about achieving the right mix of purposes, practices, and people. Jeff De Graff and Katherine A. Lawrence have identified four main types of creativity, conceptualized as creativity profiles.
By profile, we mean a description of the biases and preferred creative activities of particular individuals, groups and organisations, together with the desired creative outcomes of their activities:

1. Image profile: is the profile of radical breaks with the past and breakthrough ideas that can change the marketplace. Individuals with the Imagine profile tend to be generalists or artistic types who enjoy exploring and easily change direction when solving a problem. Imagine companies seek to create something new that has been thought impossible.

2. Invest profile: individual with the invest profile are focused on performance and goals. Their culture emphasizes these results and the discipline necessary to create them. This group typically includes members of the finance department and marketing. Invest companies seek to create quickly before competitors can.

3. Improve profile: the improve profile represents incremental creativity-taking something that exists and modifying it to make it better. People in the improve profile are systematic, careful, and practical. Improve companies seek to create something better so as to build on the present. These companies tend to elaborate or extend existing products with minor variations.

4. Incubate profile: the incubate profile encompasses the kinds of people who believe in something greater than the business itself and run their business to reflect those values. People in the incubated profile are likely to feel that creativity should be timeless. This group is often in human resources, training, or organizational development functions. Incubate companies seek to create something sound that is appreciated by the community.Of course, other kinds of creativity are equally valid and equally important, depending on the circumstances. The crucial aspect to understand is that the creative practices and competencies we use determine the outcomes we get. So if we have specific purposes in mind, we have to use the right practices, and to achieve the right practices we need the right people.

Creativity is a four stage process:

starting by the generation of creative ideas or generation stage, where elements such as information, thought and ideas are brought together and combined in such a way that new things are made. First of all, the new thing that wants to be created is decided. ´Then, preconceptions are challenged, information is collected and new possibilities sought. This stage is followed by the
2. incubation stage, where ideas are incubated, as a necessary part of generating ideas. At this point the help of the unconscious is enlisted, and the likelihood of generating many more unusual or radical ideas is increased. The unconscious is a wonderful aid to helping us break out of the structures we impose ourselves in some steps of the generation stage. Shift to making the idea a reality, requires a more critical focus to evaluate the creative outcomes, to develop the results and to create the conditions that allow the idea succeed. This stage is known as the
3. evaluation stage, and it is when the ideas are considered and those ones to be progressed chosen. Finally, during the 4. implementation stage, the creative ideas are turned into a practical reality. Implementing the ideas needs the involvement of other people and their support and involvement. It also deals with getting funding or other kinds of resources. When trying to introduce a new idea, we have to work at it. Influencing others, seeking the finance, trying out variations to make certain that the idea is practical, are all part of the process. Hard work and commitment go hand in hand with innovation but perseverance can help. These four stages summarise the Ucello Process for "non-stop creativity".

Being able to identify and value different kinds of creativity is a first step toward better creativity management. Once we recognize the basic forms of creativity we can begin to think much more clearly about the appropriate forms to use in different situations.

After analyzing the four main creativity profiles and the creativity stages, is important to understand the main dynamics of a creative process: motivation, curiosity and fear, breaking and making connections, and evaluation. It is very important to understand how a creative process works because everyone is born with innate creative ability, and creative ability responds to exercise, just like a muscle. But, usually, moments of creativity and invention occupy only a small part of anybody’s time and most people do not get a lot of practice. They do not expect much of it when they do practice it and so their creativity atrophies.

Creative act involves the discovery of an analogy between two or more ideas or images previously thought to be unrelated. This discovery does not arise from logical reasoning but, rather, emerges as a sudden insight. All the theories of creativity say that creative inspiration occurs in a mental state where attention is defocused and thought is associative. Such a state can arise in three ways: low levels of cortical activation, comparatively more right-than left-hemisphere activation, and low levels of frontal-lobe activation. Creative people do not exhibit all of these traits in general but only while engaged in creative activity:

1. Low levels of cortical activation: There are theoretical reasons to expect that creativity is related to general level of cortical arousal. Arousal is viewed as a continuum, ranging from sleep through alert wakefulness to states of emotional tension. As task complexity increases, the optimal level of arousal decreases.

2. More right than left hemisphere activation: There are reasons to believe that creativity should be related to differential activation of the right and left hemispheres of the brain. The right hemisphere operates in a primary process manner, whereas the left hemisphere operates in a secondary process fashion.

3. Low levels of frontal-lobe activation: Highly creative people tend to be deficient in cognitive inhibition. Then, lower levels of frontal-lobe activation are expected in creative as compared with uncreative people.

It's a very interesting exercise you can do in your organization.


Remove barriers and obstacles that hinder creativity and denote the lone inventor as a myth.

Encourage team work and pay attention to the social climate in your organization.The social environment is of utmost importance.

Provide the freedom to your employees to search for new knowledge to experiment and improvise,you will be surprised what a person with the necessary resources can do! This is crucially important for fostering creativity in your organizations, because limitations and fear are the number one enemies of creativity, so you should better not let them impede on your employees’ creativity. Every task you assign to your employees has to be presented as though it is something really interesting and challenging in a good way. Thus every employee will feel engaged in what they do. According to some famous researchers in the field of fostering creativity, intrinsic motivation is one of the essential factors for unleashing a person’s creativity (Amabile, 1996).

Teach your employees to always look every problem or idea from different angles. If you are to encourage creativity in your employees you need to show them how crucial for every organization is to understand the end user’s needs and preferences. A key step in this direction involves placing employees in direct contact with the end users of their products and services. This way an employee will realize their part in the whole service chain if they can see the result from their contribution, this will encourage them to think of ways to improve their work and it may trigger generation of new ideas for meeting the client’s needs, that no one has ever thought of before.

Try to shift from command-and-control style management to one that is more collaborative, when you want to elicit creativity from others.


Think creatively in order to compete in the market.
Find innovative solutions for existing and future problems.
The ability to evaluate current status and find better alternatives if needed.


Consider the three characteristics of problems to which the education for innovation is suited:
1. complex and changing environment,
2. quick initial solution,
3. resources for continual improvement – and assess whether they apply to any part of your work.

Scott G. Isaksen and Kenneth J. Lauer, “The Climate for Creativity and Change in Teams”, in Creativity and Innovation Management, 11(1), pp.74– 86, 2002

Paul B. Paulus, Bernard Arjan Nijstad, “Group creativity: innovation through collaboration”, Oxford University Press 1971, Oxford:, 2003.

Nel M. Mostert, “Diversity of the mind as the Key to Successful Creativity at Unilever”, in Creativity and Innovation Management, 16(1), pp.93 – 100, 2007

Online Innovation Tools, 9 October 2007

Design Thinking 2.0 – Enabling Innovation with Web2.0. Part 3; 25 March 2010 

Goran Ekvall, “Organizational Conditions and Levels of Creativity”, in Creativity and Innovation Management, 6(4), pp.195– 205, 1997

Stephen R Grossman, Bruce E. Rodgers, Beverly R. Moore, Tex Plano, “Innovation, Inc.: unlocking creativity in the workplace”, Wordware Pub., 1988

James L. Farr, Michael A. West, “Innovation and creativity at work: psychological and organizational strategies”, Chichester , England ; New York : Wiley, 1990

Tore Kristensen, “The Physical Context of Creativity”, in Creativity and Innovation Management, 13(2), pp.89 – 96, Blackwell Publishing, 2004

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