Creativity Myths

Sustained myths about Creativity and Innovation lead to confusion, bad practice and bad decision making. Some of them include:

1. Creativity requires Creative Types

While some theorists assert that there are creativity traits such as tolerance for ambiguity and intolerance to conformity, these assertions are countered by the fact that traits are hard to identify and are not stable nor transferable across situations. Further, motivation is a critical factor. Additionally, creativity is a cognitive process and thus measurements like "she looks creative" are poor benchmarks. All the research shows that everyone can produce novel, useful, varied, diverse ideas and looking for certain types to come up with them reduces total valuable output.

2. Money is the best Motivator

Material reward is a synergistic extrinsic motivator. That means that it is a factor that enhances intrinsic motivation but may not in itself cause maximum creative effort and output ? there are at least six other motivators that are as valuable. Additionally, the exact level of material reward very positively correlates to that received by peer groups.

3. Time Pressure drives Creativity

Yes and no. There are at least three conflicting forces:

a) Time pressure increases creative output. By forcing idea production, setting goals and incremental deadlines, a greater number of ideas are produced than if a "do your best" approach is taken. This action benefits from the positives of prolific production and other processes.

b) Time pressure may be a non-synergistic extrinsic motivator. It reduces the level of engagement in the endeavour and inhibits intrinsic motivation.

c) Short-term time pressure does not allow the mind to engage in the endeavour at various cognitive levels. It does not allow rich ideas to formulate through the process of incubation.

4. Competition outperforms Collaboration

Competition causes many people to shut down and introduces many negatives such as core and peripheral groups, politicking and restriction of information. Collaboration, on the other hand, allows the intellectual cross pollination that is the raw material for good idea generation.

5. Creativity and Innovation can be used interchangeably

The terms Creativity and Innovation are often used interchangeably but they are, in fact, separate and distinct. Creation can be described as problem identification and idea generation whilst innovation is idea selection, development and commercialisation. The distinctions alone lead to numerous conclusions. Among them is the fact that:

a) Creativity and Innovation leaders require at least six different competencies (including one holistic) to even begin Managing Creativity and Innovation (actually, many more are needed).

b) Both Creativity and Innovation require different structures, processes and skill sets.

c) Workshop facilitators should split sessions into distinct parts and formulate frameworks and processes to maximise output at each level.

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These and other topics are covered in depth in the MBA dissertation on Managing Creativity & Innovation, which can be purchased at http://www.managing-creativity.com

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You are free to reproduce this article as long as the author's name, web address and link to MBA dissertation is retained.

Kal Bishop MBA
Kal is a management consultant based in London, UK. He has consulted in the visual media and software industries and for clients such as Toshiba and Transport for London. He has led improv, creativity and innovation workshops, exhibited artwork in San Francisco, Los Angeles and London and written a number of screenplays. He is a passionate traveller.

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