Creativity & Innovation

By: Iain Chalmers
Managing Director of The Holst Group.

The biggest challenge when looking at creativity and innovation is understanding the difference between the two. It is such a misunderstood area that even business leaders have trouble distinguishing between the two.

One of the rising stars of Indian business, Nandan Nilekani, president, CEO, and managing director of Infosys Technologies, recently spoke about the need for Innovation at the WEP in Davos.

He spoke about two two things to create an innovative culture:

  1. Innovation requires diversity. You need to bring together different kinds of people to get new ideas.
  2. Innovation requires borderless thinking.

I (Iain) understand what he means, but he is not talking about innovation, he is talking about creativity. There are many definitions of innovation – here are two:

“the successful exploitation of new ideas” (Department of Trade and Industry, UK).
“change that creates a new dimension of performance” Peter Drucker (Hesselbein, 2002)

According to Wikipedia there are over 60 definitions of creativity – no wonder we’re confused.

So, here are my two definitions:

Creativity = the pure generation of new ideas.

Innovation = the implementation of any idea.

Innovation does not start until the creativity process ends. You can see this in the following model:

Creativity vs. Innovation

To be truly creative the mind needs to be stretched to beyond its normal conventional thinking. Lateral Thinking techniques are particularly effective at shifting ones perception of what is possible. It is from within a large number of ideas that the real value is found.

However, even more important is the technique used to group, sort and ‘harvest’ the implementable ideas. Distilling a large group of ideas down to a manageable number will drive innovation forward, rather than put it in the ‘too hard’ box.

As one of the longest standing partners of Dr Edward de Bono in the world, The Holst Group:

  • Sets the stage for companywide innovation
  • Sharpens critical thinking skills that maximise talent
  • Simplify processes and reduce complexity
  • Help build innovative thinking and learning organisations

Famous for techniques such as Six Thinking Hats® & Lateral Thinking, Dr de Bono is constantly developing new training workshops like Simplicity®, Focus on Facilitation™ & Innovation on Demand.

Visit The Holst Group for more information.