Creativity doesn’t spark in a vacuum. Nurturing it with the right ingredients and trusting in the eventual payoff is what sets a creative business apart.
Creativity as both noun and verb
When we think of creativity, we often think of some essential but rare human attribute—the gift of a lone genius touched by the gods or born with a unique genetic inheritance. Creativity is seen as an inborn trait that can be nurtured, but also as something that is fundamentally a quality of the person possessing it. We picture Leonardo da Vinci or Thomas Edison feverishly working away in their studio or workshop, to emerge with the Mona Lisa or the first practical electric light—creative works sprung fully formed from their solitary efforts.
This, of course, is a romantic fiction. Though brilliant, both da Vinci and Edison owed their creations as much to the context in which they worked as to their own considerable talents. It’s far from certain that da Vinci would have been as productive and innovative had he lived in the Dark Ages instead of the Renaissance. And without the equipment and staff of his famous Menlo Park laboratory, Edison would likely have won far fewer than the thousand-plus patents he acquired over his career.
Individual talent is important to creativity, but there’s much more to it than that. Research shows that creativity is the result of multiple factors that must converge for it to spark. It’s an “ecological” or “systems” phenomenon that arises out of the interactions of individuals and teams, both with each other and with the environment around them. Creativity is not just something we have; it’s also something we do—both noun and verb.
This is as true for organizations as it is for individuals. Creative organizations—those that generate new, useful, and commercially successful products and ideas—become that way by embedding creative teams within a supportive social and physical context. These supports include not just material resources—funding, equipment, and so on—but also a culture that values new ideas, appropriate mechanisms for vetting and developing them, and methods and governance frameworks that allow teams to engage creatively with internal and external stakeholders. Without such supports in place, an organization risks its creative ideas dying on the vine, strangled by bureaucracy, poorly aligned incentives, unfortunate group dynamics, or an inability to find customers.
What does it mean to invest in creativity?
All organizations that prioritize innovation understand that they need to focus on their people—the groups charged with developing new and useful things to take to market. The research on creativity conventionally terms these groups as the creative person—the individuals and teams (and their skills, talents, knowledge, and experience) involved in creative work. This is where most organizations direct their investments in creativity—toward hiring people with the “right” skills and putting them to work.
However, research into creativity also points to three more factors that shape creative outcomes: process, place, and product. Process is a creative team’s development journey, the steps and actions they take to do the work. Place refers to the setting in which the work is done, covering everything from access to material resources to high-level organizational policies and governance to an organization’s culture and its social norms. And product is the creative work itself—the new object, idea, or behavior that the organization hopes to commercialize.
Researchers conventionally see creativity as emerging from the interactions between these four P’s. But in organizations where teams are so interdependent that getting things done needs a great deal of interteam coordination, we should also add persuasion as an equally important factor. A team wishing to execute a creative idea must convince other teams, managers, executives, and even external stakeholders that what they want to do is novel and useful enough to be worth helping along.
Adding persuasion as a factor helps us to recognize that the five P’s naturally fall into two groups. First, there is creative potential, comprising person, process, and place—the elements that influence how creative the new product, idea, or behavior could be. Second, we have creative performance comprising product and persuasion—the creative outcome, composed of the novelty and utility of the product, idea, or behavior, mediated by the effectiveness of the persuasion that goes into convincing others that it’s valuable.
By Peter Evans-Greenwood, Robert Hilard, Robbie Robertson & Peter Williams
Read the full article at https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/topics/innovation/factors-for-creativity-in-business.html.