Defining The Issues Of Creative Thinking Commerce Essay

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Creative thinking can be defined in different ways, Jones (1972) states that it combines originality, sensitivity and flexibility towards various ideas, thus breaking away from thought patterns, opening up to different and productive sequences which in turn can lead to satisfaction. Another view is, where creativity is seen as a production of new and useful ideas that may be generated by a single person or a group (Amabile, 1998).

The evidence of creative thinking in an organisation has to be clarified. According to Harris, Montegomery and Levine (1996) there are few constants in today's modern business environment to rely on by management, except for the need for change. As a result, creativity is also needed within an organisation to find new ways to act in business and find creative solutions and products. This is also stated by Martensen and Dahlgaard (1999) who say that excellence in innovation demands quick reactions to new market conditions and customer needs. It is important to see the possibilities that can arise from constantly looking for creative solutions and continuous improvements. As creative thinking is essential for an organisation, it is important to know how to support and build a creative environment.

Andriopoulos (2003) mentions six paradoxes for managing creativity, one of them being that employees' passions should be supported, though financial goals should be achieved. This statement leads to the next paradox of Andriopoulus (2003) which suggests challenging employees and building confidence. This can be fulfilled by the involvement of employees in multiple and diverse projects. The last paradox recommends to take incremental risks, but to break new grounds, which means that calculated risk must be considered during an experimentation phase.

Einstein (in De Witt and Meyer 2004, p. 68) stated "Imagination is more important than knowledge." Therefore, organisations should support imagination skills which can be achieved in different ways. One approach to do so is suggested by a consultant, who says that foreign travels and adventures should be realised. The consultant arguments that you can only output what comes in, hence the more experiences you make the more creative you become (Andriopoulos, 2003). 3M practices another way to target creativity, there is not one, but the whole organisation is the R&D department and it would take six to seven years to an idea (De Witt and Meyer 2004). Obviously, 3M investigates a lot of trust into its employees. 3M has proven that its innovations are creative - trust in employees can be assumed as a major approach when supporting creativity.

As mentioned earlier, imagination is essential when it comes to creativity. Nevertheless, imagination also has an impact on the opposite of creativity, logic as "it is a fallacy to believe that strategic options follow more or less logically from the characteristics of the firm and its environment. Strategic options […] are dreamt up. Strategists must be able to use their imaginations to generate previously unknown solutions (De Witt and Meyer, 2004).

"Logics are deeply rooted, underlying assumptions that are used to frame thinking, decisions, and processes" (Horn, 1983, p.1). Logically thinking people quantify, analyse and make use of linear, logical thinking. It is important for managers to engage in logical thinking as they need to make their thoughts explicit to be checked and evaluated (De Wit and Meyer, 2004). The evaluation of these ideas helps to overcome own cognitive maps and become trapped in a mind-set. Argyris (1977) argues that it is not until 'theories of action' are made implicit, that they can be tested for accuracy and amended. Each step has to logically follow the next. Logical conclusions can only be drawn with a sound argumentation. Logical following of steps and constant revaluation avoids emotional interpretations and hinders building false models of reality.

Logical thinking is supported by analytical skills where strategists have to meticulously go through a great amount of data (De Wit and Meyer, 2004). The rational approach to strategy prefers a planned and top-down approach (Whittington, 2001). The emphasis is on long-term, explicit and deliberate conception of goals as well as logically dropping actions and resources from original objectives (Chandler, 1962).

For Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffet decided not to invest in the boom of the companies in 1991, but in companies like Coca-Cola. He decided to stay in the circle of competence and maintain what they know best. He stuck to his principles to only invest in industries which are stable and fully understood. Although share prices plummeted, he refused to be brought off course. By 2001, the boom started to retreat itself and the share price of Berkshire Hathaway increased again. Buffet has been able to put emotions aside and pursued rational reasoning (In De Wit and Meyer, 2004).

"Logics pose the problems, provide the languages for explaining and understanding them, and determine their solutions. Logics give people their 'reality', the truth, the way things are" (Ford and Ford, 1994, p.758). Sense is being made in what we see with a particular logic (Weick, 1979). If too much emphasis is put on intuition rather than on analysis, a person or company can step into the pitfall of common cognitive biases or also known as 'extinct by instinct' (Langley, 1995). Logic can even be seen as creativity when one has different logics at hand and can choose between different alternatives (Ford and Ford, 1994).

The drawbacks of logical thinking are that people are used to applying specific logics and basic assumptions become granted (Ford and Ford, 1994). Once assumptions are settled in the mind, they are usually not questioned or reviewed. These logic frameworks can dominate the thinking of a company and influence the innovation and decision process (Prahalad and Bettis, 1986). Additionally, in reality, rational or logical approaches are rather uncommon (Mintzberg and Westley, 2001). Rational planning is the mean to achieve the classical strategy of achieving profitability (Whittington, 2001).


When developing strategy, should companies really make use of creativity rather than logic? Creative and logic strategy development both have their reasons for existing. It is often argued to make use of either one or the other. However, to be most effective, both should be used. Creativity is the driving force for innovation whereas logic is the driving force for making strategy clear and explicit.

Whether to use creativity or logic as the starting point depends on the position and environment of the company. Also, where is the company heading to, what are the long term goals? If a company seeks to engage in a sustainable change and gain competitive advantage through innovation, creative development should be sought. As Jones (1972) states, old patterns should be broken. However, logic should be applied as well as this is what will actually keep the company going. Logic will demand the creative ideas to be made explicit, which implies that they will have to be evaluated, and checked (De Wit and Meyer, 2004). If no logic was used, creativity would find no end.

On the other hand, companies can focus on logical strategy development which is more useful for engaging in incremental change. A constant revaluation of the strategic goals is undertaken and adjustments can be made (De Wit and Meyer, 2004). The environment and company resources are analysed to gain competitive advantage by having insights and full knowledge. However, creativity cannot be disregarded. Creativity is what sparks change and moves companies into new markets no matter how logical the previous steps might have been.

To sum it up, it cannot be said that creativity rather than logic should be used in strategy development. The business situation and surroundings determine which direction is more suitable. In the end however, both creative and logical strategy development have to be applied and combined. This unique combination in itself can also create a competitive advantage or core competence.

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