Creativity can be defined as problem identification and idea generation whilst innovation can be defined as idea selection, development and commercialisation.
There are other useful definitions in this field, for example, creativity can be defined as consisting of a number of ideas, a number of diverse ideas and a number of novel ideas.
There are distinct processes that enhance problem identification and idea generation and, similarly, distinct processes that enhance idea selection, development and commercialisation. Whilst there is no sure fire route to commercial success, these processes improve the probability that good ideas will be generated and selected and that investment in developing and commercialising those ideas will not be wasted.
Ideas from the most embarrassing experiences of life
The Economist (2003b) states that 3000 bright ideas are needed for 100 worthwhile projects, which in turn will be winnowed down to four development programmes for new products. And four such development programmes are the minimum needed to stand any chance of getting one winner.
From the above it is clear that a large number of good ideas are required before the innovation process can truly begin. Given that the bright ideas themselves would have been chosen from a larger pool of general ideas, the problem becomes one of maximising idea generation before idea selection begins.
One of the most useful methods of generating large numbers of ideas is the use of frameworks. Frameworks or models break up a whole into relevant component pieces. For example, the simple PEST model breaks up macro analysis into Political, Economic, Social and Technological elements, thus creating four pathways.
There are obviously many, many uses for frameworks.
One of the most useful – used by television executives when theyre thinking of developing programming – is to break up the human life span into fifty or a hundred key moments. They then elicit five or more key events within each key moment, one of them being the most embarrassing thing that could happen at that moment. The whole thing turns out to resemble one giant mind-map or family tree type diagram.
As innovations are very much related to problems faced by individuals and solutions for them, this approach also seems to work well in new product development.
These and other topics 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/
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Kal Bishop 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/