It is often the case when a new blog starts, that the author wishes to preface their noodlings, thoughts and cognitive ejaculations with some kind of proviso - I'm no different. Not in that respect anyway!
So... lets start with the cap doffed in the direction of fairness, egalitarianism and inclusivity. There are no two ways about it. Creativity rules. Period. "Creativity" in nature drives evolution and in the human animal it is at the heart of our advancement as a species. Be that in terms of art, science, technology or (sometimes!) politics. My academic and practitioner colleagues whose passion it is to investigate the art of schoolchildren, understand how creative activities can help with rehabilitation or recovery from tragedy and trauma are brilliant. Thank you for making a difference.
However, I have a grubby confession to make... No, this is not about to turn into a 12 step programme - but more on that in my future posts..! My confession is this. I am interested in profit (mine, hers, his, yours, theirs...). There... I said it (Starting to feel better already). I know, I know, as an academic I'm supposed to find some lofty philosophy, some holier-than-thou proclamation about how my interests, motives, passions and sensibilities collide to make the world a better place (more on that later too). Nope... I am an applied psychologist in a business school. I love creativity as an academic subject, but I have a desire to help organizations harness creativity to make money, improve ROI, turn a profit, increase efficiency - I think you get the picture. I won't pretend to be shame-faced about this proclivity, no siree! Returning value for shareholders is (at the moment) the motivating force behind organisational activity. Personally, I believe that the leaders of our nations missed a great opportunity to make some swathing creative changes to our world when we were at our lowest ebb in this recession. They could have reorganized our economies to be more concerned with stakeholders rather than just shareholders, they could have incorporated ecological, environmental or sustainability issues into the changes too. Alas they did not.
Now... for some reverse engineering, after-the-fact, post-hoc rationalization. If you will, an effort to show how creativity in organizations is at the root of the noble efforts of those people who use creativity for "the greater good". Here is my argument for a way of rationalizing creativity, profits and social advancement.
Fact: Creative businesses, that successfully promulgate innovation, intrapreneurship and entrepreneurship make more money.
Fact: More money for the organization means more money for the tax person (let's not add sexism to my rampant commercialism!).
Fact: Successful businesses are also more able to provide jobs, which in turn reduces the burden on the state.
Ok, you think... So what?
Killer Fact 1: More jobs, means more people earning, which in turn means more people to charitably fund the important research and interventions that use creativity to help people and advance our societies.
Killer Fact 2: More profitable organizations are in a better position to fund charity directly (Bill and Melinda Gates anyone?)
Killer Fact 3: More money for the tax person allows for more funding for research and development councils to support the benevolent applications of creativity research.
So there is my grubby secret and my reasoning for why helping organizations be more creative will ultimately benefit society. If anyone tries to tell you different. Perhaps you can tell them to "Fact off!"
I hope you will join me over the following months while I run through a few little ideas about how we can make the most of creativity in organizations. We'll start with some clarification, move on to consider individuals and teams, before finishing with some thoughts about organizational climate and culture.
In fact, I will be asking you to join me on my 12 step programme for creative organizations...
See you soon...
Mark Batey CPsychol. PhD
is a Creativity Specialist at Manchester Business School, UK
For more insight and discussion... Join the Psychology of Creativity LinkedIn group