Managing Creativity

Here at NESTA, we often discuss the role of creativity in innovation.

My tentative conclusion so far is that great artists or creative thinkers always challenge the status quo – and that’s why they’re useful to the innovation agenda.

Having the desire to change things and the ability to ask "Why-not?" seems as characteristic of the good artist as it is of the good entrepreneur.

An oft-asked question is whether this can be taught or harnessed.

Gordon Torr explores this in his new book – Managing Creative People – worth a read.

Comments

  1. I do think it can be taught or at least acquired through experience. People are often not encouraged to question/challenge authority, which leads to group think. Nothing like a good disagreement to really refine your thinking on a problem….

  2. My usual beef (I sound like a cracked record on this), but my view is that performativity and audit regimes really inhibit creativity – you can see the effects of this all over the education system where the results oriented culture, in which what is measured and judged is student achievement in examinations and tests, totally overwhelms the attempt to think intelligently about teaching and learning or even consider what the point of all these assessments and tests are. The public sector is really bad at dealing with disruptive innovators – so they usually disappear off into the third sector or private sector where at least there is a measure of autonomy. The issue is to encourage what elsewhere I’ve called redistributive leadership – i.e. management and leadership that enables people to do things and gives them autonomy within a framework of shared values. So the leader steps back from micromanagement, sets the tone for the organisation, and enables others to take the initiative.

  3. creativity can indeed be taught. although some people can more naturally and easily see potential or options in things overlooked. however, creativity (as well as innovation) is a deliberate thinking process. there are steps to creatively and effectively approach any situation or problem to be solved that will help one (or a group) uncover many possible options.

  4. By confusing problem solving with creativity Steve Glynn finds himself in good company. Steven Pinker’s “wobbly chair” error illustrates the point. You don’t need creativity to come up with the idea of packing some folded cardboard under the shortest leg. All you need is a brain that hasn’t been blunted by too many courses in problem solving. Creativity would be inventing a four-legged chair that never wobbles no matter how uneven the surface.

  5. ReGrahams point on education…..does the system allow teachers the 15% rule? Teachers should be allowed to work off plan for 15% of their lessons so that they can innovate with the children around what is taught and how it is taught. Of course results would need to be monitored i.e some sort of measurable gains illustrated (so that they don’t just use the time to catch up on marking). I know people may say that you can’t ‘experiment’ with children’s education that way, but I feel its a bigger risk to continue along the current path.

  6. Gordon
    If the folded paper under the short leg is problem-solving and the chair that never wobbles is creativity, what is the gizmo that is able to steady short legs within a range of gap sizes – “the flexible table steadier in your pocket”.
    I’m intrigued. Is it the nature of the question or nature of the process that differentiates creativity from problem solving?

  7. When you find an answer that settles a question, that’s problem solving. When an answer occurs to a question that’s never been asked, that’s creativity. My non-wobbly chair would be the product of creativity only if it changed the way we thought about chairs in general.

  8. If you mean curiosity, then absolutely. Great creative people are naturally curious, not just about their own domain, but about life, the universe and everything. If you mean asking a bunch of questions hoping to find an answer then you’re talking about heuristics, something else entirely.

  9. If you mean curiosity, then absolutely. Great creative people are naturally curious, not just about their own domain, but about life, the universe and everything. If you mean asking a bunch of questions hoping to find an answer then you’re talking about heuristics, something else entirely.

  10. If you mean curiosity, then absolutely. Great creative people are naturally curious, not just about their own domain, but about life, the universe and everything. If you mean asking a bunch of questions hoping to find an answer then you’re talking about heuristics, something else entirely.

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