Creativity means using your imagination to create ideas that will add value for the organisation and/or stakeholders. It is about:

It is vital that you are able to lead creativity and encourage idea generation so that your team and organisation find new and better ways to solve problems, especially when there is no previous experience of the issue, and so no guarantee that logical or tried and tested approaches will work. Creativity will also help your organisation to deal successfully with a rapidly changing economic, technological or cultural business environment.

What is creativity?

Guilford (1950) identified two different ways of thinking:

  • Convergent thinking – coming up with one right logical answer
  • Divergent thinking – associated with creative thoughts; the capacity to access memory and find unique and numerous answers

When confronted with a problem, in divergent thinking, you look from many perspectives, search for different ways of solving the problem, and come up with many different ideas, some of which may be quite unconventional and often unique. You see the relevance of different or unrelated things that others cannot see, and you can accept contradictions. Divergent thinking has four components and you can develop each of them to enhance your creativity:

The Creative Self

If you have ideas, you are imaginative; if you act upon those ideas, you are creative.

Psychologists have found that measures of intelligence do not explain highly productive creative thinking. If you are a creative thinker, you are willing to investigate many different approaches to an issue. Even after you have noticed a promising option, you are prepared to explore other less obvious, or unconventional ones. George Land (1998) found that, as we grow up, our creativity can become buried, perhaps by:

  • the influence of adults
  • learning about the importance of rules and regulations
  • education teaching us the value of logic and structure, and our knowledge becomes an extension of what we already know, rather than being really new.

Typically we learn non-creative behaviours. This means we must develop our creativity:

Generating ideas is a crucial work skill, and everyone can be creative. However, ideas do not appear by chance. You need to be curious, enquiring and actually look hard for ideas, opportunities, possibilities, answers or inventions. There are many techniques that you can practice to force your mind to break old patterns of thought and identify new possibilities. This will help you to become more open-minded, and to think differently.

Managing the Creative Process

As a creative leader you actively search out new problems and you are successful in handling new challenges. You have vision and you are able to inspire others by your creativity. Creativity is an important human resource and you need to encourage a positive work environment to help it to flourish in your team. Most successful innovations happen through creative collaboration by combining ideas, with many false starts and missteps. Discussion, debate, argument, diversity of thought and conflict are therefore part of the creative process. You make sure that decision making is integrated so that opposing views are combined into new ways.

The creative process has five steps, not necessarily in a cycle; sometimes you may go back and forth between each of the different stages:


Many tools are available to help you manage this process. Possible obstacles that you may need to  overcome include:

Fast paced industries develop new ways of boosting their people’s creativity.  Hack days (hackathons) were introduced by technology companies as a way for developers to get together, collaborate and synthesise in creating new products or features, often working all night writing the code to bring their ideas to life. Some examples of approaches used to encourage creativity are on the next page. Professor Pin (2015) of IESE, the graduate business school of the University of Navarra, gives three tips for managing creative team members:

Amor, M & Pellew, A (2016). The Idea in You: How to Find It, Build It, and Change Your Life PenguinGuilford, J.P. (1950). Creativity, American Psychologist, Volume 5, Issue 9, 444–454.Land, G & Jarman, B (1998). Breakpoint and Beyond: Mastering the Future Today HarperBusinessPin, J. R. (2015). How To Manage Creative Geniuses Available from: [Accessed 13 November 2017] Proctor, T (2013). Creative Problem Solving for Managers Routledge



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