Here are a few "lessons learned' from this process:
- Creativity and innovation are not synonymous. Innovation is, by definition, the result of individual creativity and social processes that allow the creative products or processes to be implemented and disseminated. We can talk about individual creativity - but not individual innovation (1).
- Since innovation is a a team or organizational concept, individual workshops to "teach people to become more creative" are unlikely to work in isolation.
- Efforts to build an "innovative organization" should involve interventions at team, leadership, and organizational levels. Consider reviewing the general organizational climate as well as available rewards, constraints, and resources.
In other words: Building an "innovative organization" is hardly possible if one only focuses on "individual creativity" workshops. These workshops, however, can still be useful. For instance, we're including in ours a review of a participant's unique path to creativity - his or her talents, personality traits, values, and expertise. One could also use workshops to support the development of innovation related competencies such as relationship building, information sharing, and making connections.
The last competency - making connections - brings me back to the main topic of this blog. It's impossible to be efficient if we constantly branch out of our areas of expertise. Thing is - making connections is at the heart of innovation. Amazing ideas come from the "odd bridges" that we build between our fields and others', between the immediate, the practical, and the "I'm not sure how on earth I'll use this" pieces of information.
So here are two questions to readers of this blog:
1. How much time do you dedicate to "impractical" or "out of your area of expertise" topics?
2. Once you "branch out" into different areas, how do you then bring yourself back and... make it simple?
(1) de Sousa, F., Pellissier, R., & Monteiro, I. (2012). Creativity, innovation, and collaborative organizations. International Journal Of Organizational Innovation, 5(1), 26-64.