Creativity is a prerequisite for innovation. What characterises creative persons? How can companies make creativity flourish? Øyvind L. Martinsen at BI presents his findings.
KNOWLEDGE @ BI: Creativity in Organizations
Man has survived because we have always managed to find new ways of adapting to changing and challenging surroundings. Our creativity will now be tested as we try to handle the climate challenges.
Creativity is a prerequisite for innovation, which is again the key to innovation and productivity that earns companies money.
”There is nothing ”mystic” about creativity. It is all about creating useful new thoughts, ideas and products, and I mean useful in the broadest sense of the word, and it can be useful now or in the future,” points out Associate Professor Øyvind L. Martinsen of BI Norwegian School of Management.
In his research, Martinsen tries to find out what characterises creative people. At the same time, he tries to find answers to what leaders and companies can do to make creativity flourish in their organisations.
A talent for creativity
The first principle that leaders who want to increase creativity should apply is to actually desire and genuinely want to generate more creativity. This is easier said than done, and has an impact on the leadership role.
”Obviously, some people have a greater talent for creativity and a more creative personality than others. Companies must identify applicants with creative talents during the employment process,” says Øyvind L. Martinsen.
According to Martinsen, creative people are characterised by above average intelligence, they are flexible, like the thought of new ideas and have a well-developed ability to come up with new ideas.
Open to new experiences
The BI researcher has conducted a study where he identified the personality traits of inventors. Furthermore, he has studied research of typical personality traits of developers, scientists and artists.
A common trait for all four groups of creative people is that they display a high degree of openness to new experiences. Another characteristics is that they have a vivid imagination and a wealth of ideas (associative orientation ability). Whereas artists display a high degree of neuroticism (low emotional stability), inventors, developers and scientists are often more emotionally stable.
None of the four types of creative people covered by the study are particularly easy-going. They can be both stubborn and competitive. Whereas artists tend to be quite unsystematic, both entrepreneurs and scientists display a strong methodical ability in their work.
Climate for creativity
However, employing creative people is not sufficient. Companies must also implement measures that stimulate creativity.
”Working environment and the inner motivation of the employees are vital in order to trigger more creativity,” states Øyvind L. Martinsen.
While researching creativity, Martinsen identified six important factors that will help stimulate creativity:
Employees must find their work tasks challenging
Employees must have a positive experience cooperating with their colleagues
The senior management must show that they support creativity in practise.
Employees must have a good relationship with their immediate supervisor
Intellectual stimulation and variation must be promoted
The will to take risks and flexibility
Creativity can be learnt
Luckily for those without a creative streak, ”it seems that it is possible to learn methods and techniques to become more creative,” says Øyvind L. Martinsen.
However, these methods will not have a long-term effect if employees do not find the working environment positive and stimulating. Nor will they have a long-term effect unless their supervisor and the senior management show that they actively support creativity.
Source: BI School of Management