October 12, 2006
Different creative ideas are the essential ingredients in innovations, especially in an R&D setting. Thus, it is imperative to scan the environment for different opportunities that will answer the needs and wants or provide technological solutions to present and future market problems. For creativity to occur, chaos is needed, but a chaos that is structured and focused. This follows the Law of Entropy, where all things tend to become disordered. Sufficient energy, creativity for this matter, is needed to establish order and systematic operation. The combination of creativity and innovation requires the drive and the perseverance to develop these creative ideas into implementable solutions or systems.
People are creative to a certain extent and creativity can be developed. Imagination, which is innate in almost every person, is the foundation for this belief. The difference in creativity lies on the following factors: aptitude, environmental exposure, positive reinforcement and support. Educational attainment and the quest for intellectual development are important, as these will determine the field of specialization where a person can be highly creative. The information gathered is the core source of creativity. Environmental exposure creates a positive reinforcement as people, by nature, conform to their environment. It creates an invisible force that pressures people to perform especially when in the company of achievers. In connection with this, the support system provides the necessary financial, moral and technical support that a person may need to boost his creativity.
The creative process consists of four phases. The first phase, Background or Knowledge Accumulation, provides the academic background. This, perhaps, is the most important phase since this will provide the strong foundation for creativity. Therefore, one must invest highly on knowledge building activities. The second phase is the Incubation Phase where one processes the information gathered, subconsciously. Though, if one is really dedicated to idea generation, this will be a conscious effort as you try to seek for answers and solutions to your questions and problems. The next phase, the Idea Experience or eureka factor, is when the solutions are incrementally discovered. This may come immediately or may take some time when a problem or an opportunity is identified and may come as a surprise in your daily routine. The last phase is the Evaluation and Implementation. This phase puts the idea into action and modifies continuously the plans and solutions, as this is the try-test-revise stage.
One characteristics of a creative person is his/her imaginative minds that creates and recognizes relationships in the environment. The functional properties of these relationships are further developed to satisfy the needs and provide solution to problems. At this point, both the logical and analytical thinking are put into operation. The ability to recognize opportunities is another important characteristic of a creative mind. The logical and analytical thinking create a whole new perspective for the creative person, thus, instead of being discouraged, the challenging problem is highly motivating. The ability to take the risks provides tremendous personal growth that a person is willing to pay for its price. Hence, a creative person is also open to change and is willing to commit mistake and extract the learnings from it. He/she is not afraid of uncertainty and ambiguity, in fact, welcomes these as challenges in his/her endeavors. A creative person is not indifferent and apathetic, as he/she is sensitive to the needs and problems of his/her surroundings.
A creative environment must also nurture creativity. Support system in the management must provide benefits, material and/or nonmaterial. The culture must be set in order to enhance the creativity of the people. Thus, continuous human resource development program must be put into place. Performance evaluation must include creativity indices to measure creativity and development of personnel.
Reference: Hirisch and Peters, 1995., Entrepreneurship: Starting, Developing and Managing a New Enterprise, 3rd. ed.