Tapping into creativityOn 1 Jun 2003 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. Aart Goud and Godelieve Spaas argue the case for embedding innovation intomanagement development programmes, drawing on examples from Rotterdam School ofManagementCreativity is more than simple brainstorming. It is part of a comprehensiveprocess of innovation which sees ideas being generated and the process beingaccepted. This comprehensive view ensures that powerful ideas are not strippedof their energy in subsequent project phases. To achieve this in our management development (MD) programme sessionsdedicated to creativity, we encourage executives to consider innovation intheir own organisations in two different ways. We offer them new stimuli, thenget them to reflect on processing those stimuli. People, information, surroundings and methods are four different stimuliwhich can induce creativity. Here we will consider each briefly: People We set up diverse project groups. We have experimented withgroups that were uniform and those that were pluriform in terms of cognitivepreferences and expertise, leading to various levels of effective results.These allow line managers to set up a sufficiently diverse innovation team onthe shopfloor. Information Apart from traditional brainstorming methods, we opt forchallenging hidden assumptions. This reveals an organisation’s preferred way ofoperating and attempts to redirect it towards new business ideas. Changing surroundings This liberation, although requiring substantialmental effort, results in what are often groundbreaking innovations. Awell-known example is the success of the US-based carrier SouthWest Airlines,where executives were inspired by Formula 1 motor racing. The extremely shortpit-stops prompted them to consider how they could optimise their planes’maintenance, allowing them to enhance the effectiveness of their fleettremendously. Different methods By using metaphors, for example, executives canexpress what was previously impossible to put into words. In one programme, weused a tape of how cellist Yo Yo Ma collaborated with a choreographer on amusic-dance production. This served as a metaphor for people from differentdisciplines working together, without which innovation would be impossible. Using information from other disciplines and combining it with one’spersonal experiences is only possible when specialists from various disciplinesare open to new information. This requires them to think more freely andoutside the mental frameworks of their own discipline. ReflectionExecutives must be able to process all these new stimuli to allow forinnovation. So we have also incorporated reflection on these stimuli within ourMD programmes. We recognise that executives process stimuli in different wayswhich reflects on the creative process. We use the Ned Herrmann model tocharacterise each executive’s cognitive processing preferences. The graph (left) illustrates four cognitive preferences and relates them tothe accompanying repertoire of behaviour. It allows executives to analyse thebest way to kick-start the creative process for him or herself, enabling themto contribute in a natural way to their work environment. Such an analysis canapply equally to a single individual participant right up to complete businessunits participating in the MD programme. Executives have experimented with diverse stimuli and their processing ofthem. This allows them to gain insight into their personal, natural creativestyle and teaches them how to influence the creative process. As the programmesproceeds, executives start to extend lessons learned to other sessions withinthe programme. Embedding creativity in MD programmes creates a win-win situation for bothregular sessions and those specifically dedicated to creativity.