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Creativity and innovation concepts are very important at a personal or organizational level. These concepts are inseparable because they are dependent on each other. Research provides that innovative practices begin with creative thinking, and rigorous evaluation and management of creative ideas (Gurteen 1998). Changing business environments force individuals and organizations to become creative and innovative in order to meet their customer demands. This essay discusses the concepts of creativity and innovation. It elaborates creative thinking process and techniques that individuals employ in searching for innovative opportunities. Moreover, it discusses their importance in business organizations and the challenges managers and individuals face in their implementation in a business context.
Creativity is defined as the act of bringing into existence something new through imaginative ideas. It is a right brain activity that involves lateral thinking, whereby new ideas are generated by combining, changing, or reapplying existing ideas. New songs, new businesses, new artistic art, and new literature presents creativity in action. Therefore, almost on a daily basis, humans come across creativity. It is characterized by originality, imagination of ideas, and action on new ideas to create value. Creativity requires passion and commitment for one to organize his/her thoughts in a manner that would bring a new approach to a subject under study.
Jalan and Kleiner (1995) defined creativity as a process of being perceptive to problems, gaps in knowledge, deficiencies, and disharmonies. It involves identifying problems, looking for solutions, making predictions, formulating hypotheses about the gaps, and communicating the results. Creativity is a function of time because creative ideas take time to be realized. Moreover, original ideas emanate from original problems, or are remote from problems. This remoteness needs time (Harvard Business Essentials 2003). Creativity is necessary for organizations to identify problems that face them, so that they can find new approaches to solve them.
Heye (2006) denotes that creativity involves three components, which include expertise, creative thinking skills, and motivation. Creative thinking involves the way in which problems are approached to generate solutions. It actually refers to the manner in which an individual or a group systematically puts together new ideas into action. Creative thinking depends on individual personalities. Motivation refers to an inner passion and interest in doing something. Motivation helps individuals to face their challenges with a positive spirit while enjoying the work. In fact, people become more creative when they get motivated by other people, interest, satisfaction, and the challenge of work itself.
According to Bingham and Spradlin (2011), innovation is the process of transforming new thoughts into action. It is also defined as the successful exploitation of original thoughts or successful application of knowledge and techniques in new ways or for new purposes (Bessant & Tidd 2001). Innovation combines new ideas and knowledge to create goods or services that add value to the society. Without innovation, the existing organizational products, services or technology would become obsolete with time. Therefore, for organizations to remain competitive, they should embrace creativity that eventually leads to innovation. Innovation involves looking at things in a fresh way, understanding people, working hard, and willing to take risks. This is so because ideas become innovations only after they have been adopted and incorporated into individualsââ‚¬â„¢ daily lives (Lumsdaine & Binks 2007).
Innovation brings change to organizations, individual lives and the society. Therefore, the most important part of innovation is to convince people that the new ideas are useful and will be helpful in adding value to their lives (Bingham & Spradlin 2011). This is because many people are resistant to change. In a business context, innovation is defined as the process of introducing new products into the market, or the action of bringing changes to something already existing in the market by introducing new methods, ideas, or products (Lumsdaine & Binks 2007). Drucker (1985) provides that innovation is the act that gives resources a new capacity to create wealth. On the other hand, J Brown-Kamn (1984) defines it as the process of generating new ideas and making appropriate decision about them to create something useful. Overall, innovation is about creating new things that fulfill specific goals, or improve the value of life.
Innovation is very essential to individuals, organizations, and enterprises. It leads organizations to new dimensions of performance that bring competitiveness and value. Organizations that intend to be innovative should encourage the spirit of creativity by supporting and bringing together groups of multi-talented individuals to closely collaborate together, exchange knowledge and ideas and shape the future direction (Michalko 2006). It is very essential in entrepreneurship because it ensures creation of new products and services for customer satisfaction. This implies that innovation increases competitiveness through renewal, rejuvenation, and redefinition of the organizationsââ‚¬â„¢ markets, industries or businesses. Entrepreneurs depend on creativity and innovation to develop business ideas, marshal resources and introduce new products or services into the market. Besides bringing competitiveness, innovation enables entrepreneurs, to seize new opportunities and eventually convert them into new goods and services (Lumsdaine & Binks 2007).
Innovation takes several forms that are aimed at bringing value to individuals, groups, organizations and/or governments. For instance, it brings changes and improvements to techniques involved in increasing productivity. This lowers production cost as it increases demand for new products. Research provides that progressive innovation is predominant while radical innovation contributes to opening up of new markets. Actually, radical innovation result into increase in demand for goods and services, which creates employment and a need for investment (Pretorius, Millard & Kuger 2005).
Innovation helps organizational management teams to exploit potentials in human resources to create profit. Actually, innovation focuses on people, structures, technology and processes. Hence, it is a means through which individuals or organizations transform opportunities into workable, valuable, and marketable solutions. It involves introduction of something new that brings value or creates a positive impact in an organization. This may include introduction of new products in the market that satisfies customers more efficiently.
Despite creativity and innovation being advantageous, they can become disastrous if not managed well. This is because some innovations may become risky and difficult if the technologies involved fail to be translated into valuable products and services. Therefore, management of creativity and innovation is very essential for the success of an organisation. For innovation to result into competitiveness, different sets of knowledge and skills management must be encouraged. Innovation management involves careful examination of new ideas and evaluation of the impact the ideas are likely to create in an organisation or the society (Seelig 2012).
Pretorius, Millard, and Kuger (2005) provide that radical innovations may become risky if not managed well. If they fail, the organization may incur losses that may tamper with its profitability or position in the market. However, proper management may result in creation of new products that may increase the organizationââ‚¬â„¢s competitiveness. Systematic innovation management is the best tool that majority of successful organizations employ in managing innovation. It entails rigid development of the innovation strategy in line with the business strategy. This blending of business strategy and innovation strategy brings appropriate product or service design.
Organizations face challenges in their attempts to implement creativity and innovation. This is because majority of top managers, shareholders, and stakeholders fear change. As a result, they resist creativity and innovation because they are associated with change and instead settle at status quo. Ahmed and Shepherd (2010) denote that status quo has led many organizations to be overtaken by new radical organizations that have embraced creativity and innovation. This is so because creativity and innovation increases profitability and competitiveness.Organizations face challenges when implementing concepts of creativity and innovation if managers fail to encourage an environment that fosters them. Lack of a supportive climate as well as entrepreneurial attitude and practices kills creativity and innovation.
Motivation is a key incentive to creativity and innovation. Lack of this incentive in an organization discourages creative thinking and the subsequent implementation of creative ideas that could result into valuable products. Moreover, distrust in employee ideas as well as sidelining them when developing ideas and giving opinions about new systems compels them to repel innovative ideas developed by senior management. Hence, implementation of those ideas becomes difficult or fails along the way (Gurteen 1998).
Creativity and innovation may be associated with some risk and complexity especially if it is technological. The uncertainty of whether certain creative ideas or innovative process will result into successful creation of valuable products or services poses a challenge to organizations. Fear of whether an innovation can result into commercially important products makes organizations to draw back in supporting creativity and innovation, and instead maintain their obvious ways of operation. In addition, employees reserve their creative ideas instead of exposing them for fear that they might be punished if the ideas fail to become successful.
Creativity and innovation concepts are crucial in ensuring that organizations gain competitive advantage. An organization that does not support those concepts grows weak due to obsoleteness of the existing systems. Therefore, creativity and innovation bring rejuvenation and restructuring that make organizations alive and focused in the current rapidly changing business environment (Lumsdaine & Binks 2007).