There is too much emphasis on creativity nowadays, on getting « ideas » like there was a lack of it. People are not creative, people don’t have ideas, we should built creative organizations. This is what I hear or read almost everyday: « Creativity is what we need to innovate ».
However, when you talk to CEOs of small and medium companies, they have plenty of ideas, if you talk to employees they have tons ideas. We are creative by nature, we are made to adapt, to find solutions.
I have been reading a very interesting article on Harvard Business Review Blog about creativity. It explained that the problem is not that organizations were not creative, it is because they were not selecting the good ideas due to a bias induced by an uncertain environment.
So the issue is not about having ideas, it is about recognizing the good ones. And I will go further than this by saying recognizing good ideas and making them right.
Most of the latest successful innovations were made based on « old » existing ideas or products. Those companies outperformed by their implementation of existing ideas.
Creativity is not an end in itself
The danger of creativity is that we lose focus on making it happen. Talking about creativity alone is nonsense, then you should talk about Art or Philosophy.
I see many workshops organized for the sake of creativity, without putting it into the context of innovation and what it takes for an innovation to succeed.
By focusing on creativity, there is a risk of starting off a race for the most creative idea or the idea no one had before. This will lead to missing the obvious solutions and losing time. Creativity is not an efficient process, it requires a lot of time. And time is something we don’t have in our world (unfortunately).
Forget about creativity as a competitive advantage
Creativity is not what will provide you a competitive advantage. Don’t be too presumptuous, there is probably someone on earth who already had the very same idea before you did. If it is not the case, then it is a bad idea.
Someone told me: « with research and development you can be the first ». Yes, it is true but research and development is not about having an idea, it is about solving a problem.
Stop being creative and start solving problems!
Creativity is not the start of an innovation process, it is something you can use all along the innovation process to solve the problems you will face.
You don’t need workshops to be creative. Creativity is in an ongoing process that comes in when you face constraints.
So my advice is start first with a problem to solve and then get creative about it if you don’t find the solution.