Creativity and Innovation Management Competencies

Creativity and Innovation

Management Competencies

Creativity and Innovation are often used interchangeably, yet they are (and should be) separate and distinct.

There are six levels of competency required.

Creativity can be defined as problem identification and idea generation whereas innovation can be defined as idea selection, development and commercialisation.

From the above, it is clear that at least six management competencies are required (including one holistic).

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1. Problem Identification

Problem identification alone requires considerable expertise

Ask five people what the problem is and it is not unusual to receive six answers.

Customers, sales, marketing, designers, technicians, finance and management all have their own ideas regarding what the problem is.

Thus any problem identification session should include as diverse a variety of people as possible.

Further, people’s ideas about what the problem is are not static.

Their views change according to the information they have.

The process of information gathering is the first step in the problem identification process and the good decision-making process.

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2. Idea Generation

Before the group brainstorming session, it is wise to ask each contributor to research in-depth their perspective of the problem.

Thus when they arrive in the group session, their ideas and contributions are more mature.

With a problem to be resolved in mind, the idea-generating session begins.

This involves generating a large number of ideas as possible, a large number of diverse ideas and a large number of novel ideas.

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Competencies in Idea Generation Techniques

Competencies in idea generation techniques are a must

For example, creative versus critical thinking is used where ideas are generated without evaluation and then critically evaluated at a later stage, preferably in a polar opposite environment.

Creative thinking is best done in an environment with many stimuli, whereas critical evaluations tend to be more effective in conservative, corporate environments where factors such as the bottom line have more gravity.

3. Idea Selection

Idea selection involves just as many people as the previous sections.

All must input their arguments if the best decision is to be made.

Many more ideas are chosen than will actually make it through to the final commercialisation stage.

The Economist (2003) stated that 3000 bright ideas are needed for 100 worthwhile projects, which in turn will be winnowed down to four development programmes for new products.

And four such development programmes are the minimum needed to stand any chance of getting one winner.

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4. Development

Development is the prototyping, experimentation and funnel stage.

The best of the best ideas are put through a stage-gate process where their viability is tested.

There is a fine line. Keeping an idea in the funnel longer allows it to attain its potential but takes away resources that may allow other ideas to flourish.

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5. Commercialisation

Finally, commercialisation is the ultimate testing ground for decisions made thus far.

However, commercial failure is not necessarily disastrous.

Strategic, technical and other competencies may be learnt and may aid in the success of future endeavours.

Creativity and innovation infrastructures may blossom and that helps improvements in the product, process, positioning and paradigm levels.

Ridley Scott scored an early failure with Blade Runner but went on to great successes later.

This article was contributed by Kal Bishop, MBA

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