Contrary to common perception, creativity can be made tangible, measurable and useable. In terms of measurement, benchmarking and improvement, the first step is to decide on definitions, the second is to decide on methods of measurement and finally, to monitor each measurement for improvement.
Definitions of creativity are not elusive. In fact, the number of definitions helps the analyst better define creativity and refine its management:
a) Coming up with original ideas.
Misleading. It can be compellingly argued that all new ideas are actually evolutions of previous ideas. Implies a break from the past.
The recombination of existing elements to form something new. Thus creativity is not something completely new but relatively new. Offers a practical method. For example, Synectics ? the practice of taking two elements and consciously creating new links and elements from them.
c) Novel and useful solutions.
Does not imply a complete break with the past and introduces the concept of applicability. Can be extrapolated to arrive at creative and critical thinking. Where creative thinking is used generate a large idea pool and critical thinking is used to reduce that pool to feasible ideas. Implies that creativity can be measured according to degrees of novelty. Someone who expands on Einstein's Theory of Relativity is not as creative as Einstein was as the ideas are not as novel.
d) Expressing unusual thought. Experiencing the world in novel ways. Effect significant changes in culture (Csikszentmihalyim, 1996).
Implies creativity has practical, expressive and cognitive elements. Closer to the common perception of "artist."
e) Producing a number of ideas, a number of diverse ideas and a number of rare ideas. The most thoroughly "scientific" definition and practical on a quantitative level.
f) Creativity as problem identification and idea generation and innovation as idea selection, development and commercialisation. Provides a good distinction between creativity and innovation. Implies a number of differing competencies are involved and also implies the universality of creativity ? we are creative on some level as we all solve problems.
Other definitions, measurement and benchmarking techniques are covered in depth in the MBA dissertation on Managing Creativity & Innovation, which can be purchased (along with a Creativity and Innovation DIY Audit, Good Idea Generator Software and Power Point Presentation) from http://www.managing-creativity.com. You can also receive a regular, free newsletter by entering your email address at this site.
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Kal Bishop MBA, is a management consultant based in London, UK. He has consulted in the visual media and software industries and for clients such as Toshiba and Transport for London. He has led Improv, creativity and innovation workshops, exhibited artwork in San Francisco, Los Angeles and London and written a number of screenplays. He is a passionate traveller. He can be reached on http://www.managing-creativity.com