Jeff DeGraff and Katherine Lawrence: How To Put Creativity To Work

creativity at work

“[What] allows a company to respond proactively to diverse pressures is the development of creativity as a core competence” (p. 2).

“Creativity, in short, is the core of all the competencies of your organization because creativity is what makes something better or new” (p. 2).

Creativity is “a purposeful activity (or set of activities) that produces valuable products, services, processes, or ideas that are better or new” (p. 4).

“[Our] research identifies four main types of creativity, which we try to conceptualize as creative profiles.  By profile, we mean a description of the biases and preferred creative activities of particular individuals, groups, and organizations, together with the desired creative outcomes of their activities” (p. 6).

What is your creative bias?

Creativity Types (2)

Imagine.  “This 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” (p. 8).

Invest.  “This is the profile that shows the intensity of competition and achievement — everyone is either a winner or a loser….Individuals with the Invest profile are focused on performance and goals….This group typically includes members of the finance department and marketing” (p. 9).

Improve. “This is the profile of large, complex organizations that create products and services that must not fail….People in the Improve profile are systematic, careful, and practical….Improve people are typically found in engineering departments or in operational groups that must maintain complex systems and reduce errors” (p. 11).

Incubate.  “This is the profile associated with having a great place to work and learn….People in the Incubate profile are committed to their community, focusing on shared values and communication….This group is often in human resources, training, or organizational development functions” (p. 13).

Creativity Dimensions

Internal Focus.  “The Incubate and Improve…profiles have an internal focus.  Practices with an internal focus are oriented toward developing underlying competencies — such as systems and culture — that support their purposes.  Such practices endorse the idea that creativity operates within the boundaries of the firm’s processes and values and enhance their performance over time” (p. 33).

External Focus.  “The Imagine and Invest profiles…have an external focus.  These practices adapt to forces external to the organization, anticipating and prospecting new opportunities, ideas, and markets.  Such practices focus on the emerging competitive situation.  An externally focused firm may view creativity as a means to an end: the development of a product, the accumulation of wealth, or overcoming a barrier” (p. 33).

Divergent Approach.  “The Imagine and Incubate profiles…take a divergent approach.  Practices with a divergent approach are typically directed toward exploring options.  Their methods and goals need to be flexible and allow for emerging ideas and dynamic possibilities.  Diversity if valued to help generate original ideas” (p. 33).

Convergent Approach.  “The Invest and Improve profiles…take the convergent approach.  Practices with a convergent approach are directed toward clearly defined goals and systems.  Their methods rely on structure, processes, consistency, and efficiency” (pp. 33-34).

Magnitude.  “‘Big’ or ‘new’ creativity produces diversification and differentiation through breakthrough innovations or dislocating the status quo.  ‘Small’ or ‘better’ creativity focuses on enhanced quality, productivity, and efficiency by improving and maintaining existing processes and products” (p. 34).

Speed.  “‘Fast’ or ‘short-term’ creativity produces immediate results and predictable shareholder returns using quantifiable measures and rigorous project management.  ‘Slow’ or ‘long-term’ creativity produces qualitatively improved abilities, learning, and sustainability through the development and dissemination of strong values and culture” (pp. 34-35).

 

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