Thinking Managers

Edward de Bono of asks whether creativity is expected in your organisation, or whether it is simply desirable?

Expecting Creativity

In surveys I have carried out among executives attending my seminars, more than 90% say that creativity is expected – but nothing is done about it. Much lip-service paid to creativity – but little serious action.

This is perhaps understandable. If things are going well, why is creativity needed? If things are going badly then who has the time for the uncertainties of creativity?

Some people enjoy the challenge of creativity and achieving a new idea. Their number would be much greater if education made a genuine effort to foster creativity. Lots of people have become adept at at learning ‘the rules of the game’ and then following those rules.

If creativity is regarded as an inborn talent that some people have and others do not, then only creative people are sought. If creativity is regarded as the ‘skill’ of using information in a patterning system like the brain, then we realise that everyone can develop the skill of creativity.

A key factor to creative effort is confidence. If you have succeeded in having creative ideas in the past, you will be much more willing to make a creative effort. You will know from experience that new ideas are possible. You will have experienced the joy and achievement of having a new idea. This can act as a powerful motivation. In fact, it can be too powerful, and people want to do everything in a new way.

You should make creativity an ‘expectation’ in your organisation. At the end of every meeting, a chairperson could allocate the last 15 minutes to ‘anyone who is exploring a new idea’. If no one has anything to say, then they are not doing their job.

You can produce a creative ‘Hit List’ of areas that need new thinking and make it visible to everyone. Executives should be expected to work on items from this list, either as individuals or as team members.

Usually, the CEO or someone senior sets the tone of the expectation. It needs to become ingrained in the corporate culture.

It is not a case of putting new ideas into action. This is the desired result but the effort to have ideas is the important first step. You should be exploring new ideas constantly. Powerful ideas will follow. Having ideas must be considered an achievement and a worthy ambition.

If you make ideas an expectation, then having new ideas becomes part of the ‘game’, and people will make an effort to have new ideas. Once they start having them, their confidence will grow and eventually you will have a creative organisation.

About the author
Edward de Bono is the world's leading authority in the field of creative thinking and the teaching of thinking as a skill.

  Edward de Bono