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Tim Millett
Published by Tim Millett
18 March 2014

A particular area of interest of ours revolves around the concept of creativity and how it can be applied in the work environment. Having read a number of books by Edward de Bono on the subject we have learnt that probably the biggest obstacle to the discovery of creative solutions to problems lies in the age old issue of time.

Indeed, many of de Bono's creativity techniques revolve around the allocation of time to the creativity process. And this can be in relatively tiny little snippets of time, as in his "Creative Pause" and "Simple Focus" techniques, to more involved chunks of time as in his "Random Input Technique".

So, if creativity is so easily applied, why don't people take the time to concentrate on creativity in the work place? In answering, a few ideas come to mind:

  • Firstly, successful creative thinking processes usually lead to change in some form, and people are, in principle, wary of change. This happens for a variety of different reasons including fear of the unknown, bad experiences in the past with change and, potentially, a loss of control in the changing environment. In order to encourage people to actively participate in a culture of creativity these fears associated with change have to be addressed.
  • Secondly, creativity is not necessarily seen as an expectation. If creative thinking is to be encouraged within the team, then leaders need to clearly communicate that contribution of ideas is not only encouraged but is an integral part of their role as a member of the team. And in turn if this expectation is to be acted upon, then leaders need to celebrate new ideas - even if those ideas do not lead to an actual innovation.
  • Thirdly, creativity is often left to chance. In order to actively encourage, and even manage, idea generation the creativity process should not just be accidental but rather needs to be formalised (if that doesn't sound like a contradiction in terms). As an example of this in de Bono's "Six Thinking Hats", time in meetings needs to be dedicated to creative effort through Green Hat Thinking.
    Of course sometimes thinking can be an end in itself, but in the business world usually the objective of thinking is to produce a result through the choice or design of a course of action. In this situation, creative thinking is just the first step. The second step which turns the thinking into innovation requires follow through - action - of some kind.

As de Bono wrote in his book "Serious Creativity":

"There is nothing more marvelous than thinking of a new idea.
There is nothing more magnificent than seeing a new idea working.
There is nothing more useful than a new idea that serves your purpose."

Part of the role of the leader is to build a culture where creative thinking is embedded in the team's DNA, and where the best ideas are followed through to become innovation.

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About the author:

Timothy Millett's training roles have seen him deliver programs across Australia, Asia, Europe, Africa and America ensuring cultural sensitivity as well as a broad base of experience in lecturing, teaching and training.

A graduate of the Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne, Switzerland, his hospitality career spans management and director positions in Front Office, Guest Relations, Public Relations, Food & Beverage and Training with organisations including the Regent of Melbourne, The Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group and Mövenpick Gastronomy. He was also a founding staff member of the internationally renowned Blue Mountains International Hotel Management School in Australia.
Tim is currently the Director of Training and Development at iperform, an organisation that specialises in Sales and Service, Leadership and Effective Personal Organisation programs.


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