Read this. Creativity is a funny thing. Similarly with innovation. It is that intangible quality or movement that we recognise when we see it or feel it … but find it difficult to systematise. And while there are whole industries dedicated to creativity and innovation and the book shelves are packed with how-tos, step-by-steps and self directed courses — the essential key to creativity continues to elude us.
The business world loves innovation and creativity. The lexicon of innovation fills our annual reports and press releases, it slots into the collateral and brochureware of our marketing departments, squeezing any substantive meaning out of the words. It is a dead-end game.
But while the business world loves innovation and creativity, it is designed not to unleash innovation but to stifle it. Those charged with driving innovation and creativity within an organisation are often sidelined for promotion and described as "square pegs" or of needing to "grow up". Furthermore, innovation champions tend to achieve in spite of an organisation, not through its support … the accolades landing only after a tenacious leader has succeeded in overcoming the barriers, solved the political, cultural and work-related problems and emerged on the other side, weary yet exhilarated.
And despite the realities of creativity and innovation, despite the commercialisation and amateurisation of creativity, there are still thousands of new graduates lining up for work in what can loosely be called the "creative" industries. Why would this be? Why would common sense dictate that any smart, inventive and driven professional keep well away?
The truth is, that in any enterprise (commercial, artistic or otherwise), there is a need for a wide range of skills, expertise and personality types. And while organisations employ techniques and tests to help quantify and qualify "staff" or "resources" or even "personalities", like many things, our skills and interests are malleable and resistant to categorisation. The "square peg" of Monday can also be the "round hole" on Tuesday — slipping into the different roles dependent upon occasion. This type of Creative Chameleon is not only a business asset, but also a strategic differentiator. Have you seen one of these in your business? They are stranger and more imaginative than you might guess.