“The business enterprise has two – and only two – basic functions: marketing and innovation.” Peter Drucker
The idea that creativity is a prime element in business may be praised, even included in corporate vision statements, but how well do business leaders and business cultures actually encourage innovation and creative thinking?
The need to be innovative in business can start early.
The photo is Jessica Alba, co-founder and chief creative officer of the billion dollar non-toxic household and beauty products firm The Honest Company.
“When you think of starting a company, you can’t do a me-too company,” Alba said. “Really understand what you’re doing that nobody else is doing. Care about the details.”
From The Important Entrepreneurship Lesson From Jessica Alba and Sarah Michelle Gellar by Stephen J. Bronner, Entrepreneur.com Oct 25, 2016.
Alba has also talked about other qualities that are valuable for business success:
“I think I have a lot of common sense. That quality is really underrated. I trust my gut, which is really important for an entrepreneur.”
[Photo at The Honest Company office in Santa Monica is from article: The SoCal Network – “The coders, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, designers, and scientists (and, yes, one actress) behind L.A.’s tech boom”, The California Sunday Magazine, 09.2015.]
A bias against creativity
Claiming to value creativity, but not practicing it
In a Creativity Post article on the topic, entrepreneur and author Larry Robertson notes:
“There is an enormous and concerning gap between how highly we claim to value creativity, and what we actually do to invest in, nurture, and practice it.”
He cites ongoing research studies on leadership which have been “asking leaders across industries and around the globe this question – ‘What is most important to the future of your organization?’
“The most important competency, strategic priority, or point of competitive advantage is: Creativity.”
And yet, he adds, “Few organizations hire, train, or create environments that promote and prioritize creativity.
“Few leaders set an example beyond their declarations of creativity’s strategic importance.
“And the few exceptions? Not surprisingly, they are the leaders viewed by their industries, the market, their employees, and their customers as having the highest likelihood of thriving in a disruptive world.”
Here is an interview with Robertson:
Making Creativity a Habit by American Express OPEN, Jun 19, 2016
Larry Robertson is the founder of both for-profit and non-profit ventures, and the author of the books:
Introversion and creative leadership
While managers may sincerely want to encourage innovation, many of the most creative people may not respond well to brainstorming meetings or open-office arrangements in the workplace, or other strategies to supposedly foster creative thinking.
One article on the topic is Why Your Open Office Workspace Doesn’t Work, Forbes Jun 21, 2016.
Author Susan Cain writes about a related issue of the personalities of many leaders:
“I suspect that another reason for the creativity gap in the leadership ranks is that many creative thinkers are introverts.
“Studies suggest that innovation often requires solitude – and that the majority of spectacularly creative people across a range of fields are introverts, or at least comfortable with spending large chunks of time alone.”
From my article Creative? Introverted? Then You’re Probably Not Seen As A Leader.
Susan Cain is author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.
Training can help you learn new management, creative and marketing skills. This photo is from the Entrepreneurship Classes section of the CreativeLive learning site.
A declining ability to think creatively
In her article “Why Your Creative Ideas Get Ignored” Jill Suttie refers to research by professor KH Kim that “finds that the ability to think creatively is down among children and adults, which suggests they may be less able to come up with creative solutions to problems.
“This trend worries those in the business sector and beyond, who fear it could spell disaster for the future of innovation.”
Suttie asks, “But what if the biggest block to creativity isn’t the inability to come up with new ideas and solutions to problems, but our inability to accept and recognize them?
She adds, “This idea is at the heart of Jennifer Mueller’s book “Creative Change.”
“History is full of examples of companies who ignored novel ideas: The Kodak Company declined to develop digital photography technology, for example, while Hewlett Packard rejected Steve Wozniak’s vision of a personal computer.
“Many organizational leaders pride themselves on knowledge of their businesses—after all, their expertise is what got them there.
“Yet, according to Mueller, this very expertise can blind them to the potential of something truly new and inventive.”
Suttie notes that Mueller believes people “miss creative ideas because of what she calls the how/best mindset — one marked by an intolerance of uncertainty and a concern with being right.
“People who have this mindset will pick apart creative ideas and try to find flaws in them to protect themselves from the discomfort of not knowing whether or not the ideas will work.”
From Why Your Creative Ideas Get Ignored by Jill Suttie, The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley March 3, 2017.
Creative Change: Why We Resist It . . . How We Can Embrace It by Jennifer Mueller, PhD.
Kyung Hee Kim / KH Kim is Associate Professor of Educational Psychology at The College of William and Mary, and in 2010 published her study “The Creativity Crisis,” in which she showed the United States has been experiencing a decline in creativity since 1990
Dr. Kim thinks “Psychologically, most of us are uncomfortable with the change, uncertainty, new ideas, challenges, and risk that accompany creativity and creative behavior.
“In order for thinkers to present original ideas, the climate needs to be receptive, or at least not hostile, to expression and consideration of unusual and wild ideas.”
From my article Are We Losing Creative Thinking Ability?
Linda Naiman, founder of Creativity at Work, notes Ed Catmull, the president of Pixar Animation, says his job as a manager is to “create a fertile environment, keep it healthy, and watch for the things that undermine it.
“Leading for creativity has more to do with coaching and curating than with asserting control. Command and control style leadership squelches creativity. So does bureaucracy.”
From her article 7 Powerful Ways to Reignite Creativity in Your Team, Inc.com.
Also see my list: Books To Nurture Your Creative Mind