Creativity = Competitive Advantage?
Creativity may be the best source of competitive advantage, but is it ignored?
Posted September 9, 2011
I have been energised by a debate with a friend... He is an experienced, wise and knowledgeable assessment and development specialist. I put it to him that organsiations must begin to take creativity seriously. He agreed, but countered saying...
"My discussions with clients will rarely focus on creativity not by my choice but by theirs. Strategy, leadership, communication, delivery are all there but creativity tends to take a back seat"
I would like to hope that this state of affairs suggests both a problem and an opportunity.
The problem - successful firms large and small, require a constant stream of new ways of working. From the shopfloor to the boardroom. From products, to processes, to services to concepts. I don't want to argue that we should be constantly seeking radical innovation - but stagnation is surely to be avoided?
Creativity lies at the heart of the development of these new ways of working - by encouraging all staff to be open to opportunities and empowering people to solve problems.
No creativity = stagnation = no innovation
The opportunity - We all know the figures on the firms that are most admired and most successful (Googles, Apples, Red Bulls, etc.) - at the heart of their success lies a willingness to develop and encourage creativity across all levels of the firm.
A piece of research I conducted recently investigated examples that link creativity to success.
One highlight from the The Ernst & Young 2010 Connecting Innovation to Profit study concluded that...
“the ability to manage, organise, cultivate and nurture creative thinking is directly linked to growth and achievement”
Might we argue that the opportunity lies in companies that normally eschew creativity, to take it seriously? Again - not that they should ignore "Strategy, leadership, communication, delivery" - but consider creativity alongside these factors.
The key questions being...
Does your company talk about the importance of creativity and innovation?
Are creativity and innovation mentioned in the mission, vision or values?
Do your assessment and development activities live up to the rhetoric?
You might be missing out on a key source of competitive advantage if they are not...
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