I was recently taking part in an online discussion about Creativity and Innovation when one of the contributors posted something that just stopped me in my tracks. There were a few words about how Creativity and Innovation are not the same (about the only thing we did agree upon) and some very logical and left brained words about how Innovation can be managed and then the line “Creativity cannot be managed”.
How come you cannot manage Creativity, but you can manage Innovation (which contains Creativity)? The rest of the article led me to believe that the author did not have a realistic grasp of the situation. As the person was obviously keen on following manuals to the letter, I had to agree that there is no manual for Creativity (one of my slogans as it happens), but we know enough to be able to manage creative and idea generating processes very successfully indeed.
There is much documentation on creative techniques for solving problems, generating ideas and making decisions. We know which ones work best for different types of working, and there are many guiding principles to help us set up our environment and ensure that creativity is nurtured. We know the best ways to capture ideas and share them, we can calibrate idea generation pipelines and we know the ideal characteristics for creative team members, creative teams and of those who try to manage them.
Better still we know how creativity fits into the process of Innovation as a whole, so how can anyone claim that Creativity cannot be managed? The answer lies in perspective. Many consultants and advisers think that Innovation is something that you do to a system i.e. you apply it by turning a handle and following the book rather than a framework and a set of behaviours that help you to innovate. Thus they get stuck when it comes to Creativity, you cannot just do it, there is no step by step guide to the whole process yet the principles I mentioned previously can be applied (within your individual context) to create a measurable and hence manageable system.