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Managing Creativity, Design and Innovation Essay Example

During the last year holidays, I found a job in a restaurant aiming at earning money as well as improving my culinary abilities. Although the job was not rewarding enough as many would expect, I, nevertheless, enjoyed working for the restaurant since it gave me the opportunity to exercise my passion and acquaint myself with new skills and ideas in the cooking sector.

After two weeks of working, I noticed that despite the fact that the city had many foreigners and the restaurant was big it was rarely filled to capacity. My personal feeling was that the business was not making enough profit as it should have to since it only offered the common staple food to locals, which went unnoticed by people from other cultures. It, therefore, had not explored its full potential, and I shared this thought with some of my colleagues.

During our discussions, I suggested to some of them that the business could be better placed to make more profits if it diversified the range of cuisines offered as this would attract more customers from other cultures. Some of them criticised my idea while others thought that it was brilliant and encouraged me to propose this to the owner of the restaurant.

Upon suggesting my idea to the owner, he was impressed and asked me to come up with a proposal outlining how this would be actualized. Although the initial set up had challenges such as the high cost of training the staff and acquisition of new equipment, by the time I was leaving for school, the number of customers frequenting the restaurant had increased tremendously.

Analysis of the Experience

There are numerous researchers who have tried to define creativity and innovation either on grounds of research, using common knowledge or on the basis of their personal theories and assumptions. There is, however, no universally accepted definition explaining creativity and innovation. Although a variety of ideas, definitions and models of evaluating creativity exist, there are particular important characteristics associated with creativity that must appear in every definition (Richards 2007).

Following the reviews of several authors, creativity can be generally defined as the process, by which either a palpable or impalpable product is used to create a new and exceptional product that is unique to the person who invented it and meets the creator’s standards of measuring its purpose and value (Kaufman 2009). Innovation, on the other hand, refers to the invention and implementing new ideas. Both definitions reveal four vital aspects including new ideas, individuals, dealings and organized business or institutional settings.

In regard with my practice at the restaurant, my idea can be defined as creative and innovative because it presents all the characteristics associated with inventiveness. One of the characteristics that were presented through my experience was the presence of a new idea. As will be discussed later in this paper, there are many factors that may drive an individual to invent unique solutions. Similarly, it is clear from my story that as a result of the challenges encountered by the business, I felt that there was a solution; hence, I introduced the idea of offering a wide variety of cuisines in order to attract more customers.

Since this was a business with several stakeholders, they all influenced my creativeness differently. According to my story, some of them supported me, but others were of the view that my idea was unrealistic. However, the support from the owner and my colleagues appeared to be stronger, which predetermined the success in the implementation of my idea.

Another factor associated with creativity is the fact that the whole process often occurs in different settings and contexts such as organisations, businesses, schools or even among social groups. The ultimate aim of such ideas and innovations is to improve the performance of such institutions and organisations. In a similar way, the ultimate aim of my idea was to explore the full potential and opportunities that the restaurant had in order to make more profits.

Certain researchers are of the opinion that creativity is a mysterious concept because it has not been universally defined. They propose that, due to its imprecision, it is impossible to sustain productive inquiries and discussions concerning the concept. Proponents have, however, rebutted this idea on grounds that it is the very nature of creativity to seem vague and difficult to study (Richards 2007).

Another schools of thought claim that people who are creative are blessed with extraordinary gifts. They believe that this has only been seen in people who lived during the earlier decades. This notion has discouraged people from exploring and explaining this phenomenon and only encourages people to appreciate it. Most of them believe that since it is associated with charms, it is based on tricks.

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Such myths promote the idea that creativity is a scarce trait present in talented people and excludes the idea that creativity also entails doing things in a better way. Differences in the level of creativity are basically a matter of the style of thinking.

Richard (2007) further explains that some people believe that creative individuals are insane. The researcher says that creativity relies on the psychological procedures of neurosis and psychosis and is, therefore, a mental disorder. According to the researcher, only a disturbed mind can be creative. On the other hand, it is believed that creativity is healthy as it enhances the natural growth of an individual’s ability.

The process of creativity is a facet of creativity that suitably influences deliberate formation of new ideas. One of the early notions that propound on the procedure of innovativeness was suggested by Graham Wallas. He divided this concept into four segments as discussed below (Griffin & Morrison 2010).

During the preparation stage, the sensible mind focuses on the challenge to be solved. The individual analyses the problem keenly and collects the resources needed to tackle this problem. For this reason, after observing and realising that there was a problem in the restaurant, I undertook it to carefully analyse what the cause might be (Griffin & Morrison 2010).

At the incubation stage, an individual adopts the problem and it becomes part of his or her unconscious mind. Connections within the mind are made spontaneously and profusely (Griffin & Morrison 2010). In my case, upon realising that there was a problem, I observed the surrounding and felt that something was missing. I subconsciously viewed the foreigners living in the area as an opportunity, which was something that no one could easily see.

The verification stage entails putting the solution into practice if it appears viable. For this reason, after consulting other employees and proposing my idea to the manager, they thought that it was worth implementing to see what the outcome would be. According to this model, none of these stages overlapped and one could not go back to the previous stage (Griffin & Morrison 2010).

Although this has been the basic model for over eighty ages, other models drawn from this model have been proposed to fill the gaps. For instance, George Polya, a mathematician from Hungary suggested a model between 1887 and 1985 that added a stage for post-verification. During this stage, the individual mainly reviewed the solution before implementing it. Another model that was presented by Philosopher John Dewey in 1952 included the pre-reflective stage, in which the preparation and incubation stages in Wallas’ model appear (Griffin & Morrison 2010).

Sources of Creativity

In order to further explain the concept of creativity, many researchers have dedicated their time towards establishing the sources of creativity in a person. The subsequent discussion explains a few arguments that have been proposed by different people.

According to cognitive psychology, the combination of knowledge, creative thinking and motivation gives rise to creativity. Knowledge includes the thoughts that a person puts together to introduce new ideas that can solve a problem. Creative thinking entails an individual’s way of facing problems and is often determined by the individual’s personality. Lastly, motivation is a vital aspect of creativity and is dependent on the passion and interest that an individual has for his or her work. Amabile and Kramer (2013) tried to explain this in form of a diagram as indicated below.

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From my experience, it is clear that my idea originated from a cognitive process as stated above. My knowledge of the surrounding area and the people living in that area came to mind once I thought of the problem that the restaurant was experiencing. As a result, the suggestion of diversifying the types of foods offered for sale was highly influenced by the knowledge and expertise I had.

I also employed creative thinking skills by choosing to view the problem from a different perspective and use the surrounding circumstances as an opportunity but not a weakness. Above all, I was highly motivated by my passion for cooking and by the support I received from some of my colleagues and the owner of the restaurant. On the other hand, a few of the employees were not generally concerned with the question of how the business could be improved and they thought that my idea was preposterous given that it required too many resources and hard work to achieve. This represents the external environment that influenced my creativity. Since most of my motivation originated from within myself, the negative energy from other employees did not stop me.

When seeking a solution to the problem, I employed the creativity tools that assisted me to form a new idea. One of these tools includes brainstorming, which was proposed by Osborn in 1953. Through this tool, an individual invents numerous thoughts, alternatives and resolutions to solve a problem. The more the number of ideas an individual can establish, the more creative they are when solving problems. This tool assists a group of individuals to put their thoughts together and generate a common idea (Osborn 2008). For instance, in my case, I applied this tool by consulting my colleagues in order to find out their points of view as well as engaged the manager in the process of finding a solution.

For purposes of enhancing creative thinking, the verbal checklist tool should be used. This technique assists an individual invent different ways of looking at things by creating a list of queries about a current service, procedure or product. This list is meant to lead the person towards developing a way of modifying or improving an existing service or produce. In 1971, Elberle established an acronym called SCAMPER as a guide to coming up with a checklist. This stands for Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Magnify, Minify, Put to, Eliminate, Reverse, and Rearrange. Generally, using this tool, the person identifies the product or service to be modified, suggests changes according to the verbs and reviews the changes to establish which one is the best. Although this technique is not clearly brought out in my experience, it could have helped me in coming up with even more creative and better solutions and alternatives (Osborn 2008).

Proactive questioning is another tool that enhances flexibility. It broadens and gives direction to an individual’s way of thinking. It also helps one consider ideas that they have failed to previously consider.

The Importance of Understanding, Supporting and Managing creativity

It has been stated that the only constant thing is change, everything else is permanent. It is in this regard that modern businesses ought to acquaint themselves with tools sharp enough to deal with the challenges that are brought about by their rapidly changing environments. Businesses have become complex and more difficult to conduct in the wake of these challenges and the ever increasing competition (Davies & Michael 2005). It is, therefore, imperative for CEO’s and other business leaders to understand support and manage creativity so as to reap its benefits in the rapidly changing environments.

One of the benefits of inventive thinking is that it aids in establishing new solutions to new circumstances. Martin and Sally (2007) posit that thinking conventionally in a logical sense obscures the discovery of solutions to the new challenges posed because such thinking is based on only what is recognised. Logical thinking has proved to be inadequate, which implies the increasing need for creative employees and managers. In my case, conventional business methods such as aggressive marketing, price reduction among others would have probably made a change, but not as much as I witnessed over a short time. I thought “outside the box”, which led to different results. When Fred Smith, a university student, the founder of FedEx invented the idea of real time parcel delivery, most shipment experts including his own professor dismissed him saying the costs would be too high, but he stood his ground. Today FedEx is one of the leading international corporations in parcel delivery because Fred Smith chose to think out of the box (Florida, 2006).

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Luthans, Carolyn and Bruce (2006) suggest that it has been internationally accepted that a company that embraces creativity is likely to have a competitive advantage over the others. In organisations where the creative performance of employees is encouraged, enhanced output in relation to competition is likely to be witnessed. In the restaurant where I worked the employees, particularly the chefs are in control of their work and all the workers are treated equally. This is the reason some of them encouraged me to pursue my idea and suggest it to the owner who is a very friendly person.

Another reason why managers are obliged to embrace creativity is that they are faced with a raft of challenges that are equally important, but the solutions to such problems are few, which minimises the chances of getting some of them solved. Some of the challenges that can be addressed by creative thinking include effective utilization of the managers time, increasing staff motivation, better satisfaction of client’s requirements, improving the product’s appeal to clienteles, among others. I observed some of these challenges in the restaurant where I worked. British Airways in the 1980s embarked on some creative such as boosting staff morale by a profit sharing arrangement, installation of TV cameras at the point of disembarking to allow for customer complaints, new passenger lounges and interiors for the planes. This enabled the company to persist in the wake of very high competition in the airline business.

When changes within the organisation occur, an uncertain environment for both the company and employees arises. To deal with such anxiety effectively, the top management has to engage its creative department for solutions. Leaders who are deemed to be creative look to solve such challenges by means other than the conventional orthodox strategies (Slater, Tomas & Eric 2010). In my case when the implementation of the idea suggested began, most of the workers were cynical and thought that they would lose their jobs, but the owner assured them that none of them would be laid off. Instead, he engaged a chef who was an international expert to train us on how to prepare a diverse number of dishes.

Creativity and innovation are used interchangeably although the two terms are not identical. As discussed above, creativity entails the mental capability to conceive different and unrelated ideas connect them and come up with better methods of doing a particular task, which can also include coming up with a new invention altogether. Steve Jobs the CEO of Apple Corporation can be said to be creative since he invented new products and perceived unrelated ideas such as a GPS, iTunes, web browser, a camera and a phone to come up with the iPhone.
Conversely, innovation is the process that transforms those creative ideas into tangible substances, the effect of which is to change the status quo progressively. Innovation can either represent a forward step in the advancement of a concept or a totally new way of doing something or movement of the concept into the next phase. Apple Company can be said to be innovative because they construe and implement the creative ideas to come up with quality products.

Conclusions and Recommendations

From the above discussion, it can be deduced that despite the fact that different researchers have tried to define creativity and innovation, there is no universal definition used to describe it. When, however, describing what creativity is, different researchers have agreed on certain characteristics that must appear in their definitions. These include new ideas, individuals, dealings and organized business or institutional settings.

As it has been stated above, different schools of thought have tried to explain the concept of creativity in different ways. While some argue that creativity is only exhibited by people who are geniuses, others believe it can be achieved by anybody. Some scholars think that it is a mental disorder, and others actually think that creativity should be encouraged since it is healthy for the mind.

The process of creativity is described as a procedure that occurs in four main stages including planning, development and confirmation. This process will, however, be made more productive if the tools of creativity such as brainstorming, proactive questioning and verbal checklists are used. There are many sources of creativity as described above but the most important aspect is intrinsic motivation and passion besides knowledge and creative thinking skills.

Since the business environment is changing drastically, it can be concluded that creativity and inventiveness can be useful in helping an organisation face the challenges currently encountered by other businesses. It also helps them stand out among the rest. It is, therefore, highly recommended that employers and managers create an opportunity for its employees to create new inventions. It is also important to give such employees the support they need in order to explore their ideas. In fact, every business enterprise should create an inventions and creativity department for this purpose.


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