Business environment has become very dynamic today owing to the increasing globalization, competition and technological dynamism. Managers are moving from the traditional human resource management practices that believed that human beings or employees were just tools to ensure that goals were achieved. Human resource management has today become an integral part of management with employees being termed as the most vital assets of an organization.
While better pay and working conditions play a vital role in ensuring that an entity achieves its goals and objectives, creativity building among employees has been found to play a great deal in creating and enhancing product differentiation hence enabling a company increase its market share and profitability. The global and national markets have become very competitive with new companies being introduced almost on a daily basis. A business wishing to succeed as such has to differentiate itself as well as its products from that of its competitors, and creativity is an avenue towards achievement of such differentiation.
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Apart from differentiation, there are other many reasons why creativity is vital to a business (Hale, n. d). This paper will evaluate the reasons as to why creativity is an essential aspect of an organization today. Creativity-An overview Creativity is of late being acknowledged as an essential factor and a contributor to organizational success. Different authors define creativity differently as there is no single agreed on definition of creativity. It has been defined as a process through which the development of new ideas that drive innovation occurs.
Creativity has also been defined as the ability to develop or come up with different and new viewpoints pertaining to a particular subject. It entails breaking down and later restructuring the knowledge a person holds pertaining to a subject with the aim of gaining new outlook and insight of the nature of the subject in question. It is the formation of new combinations from associate elements which are useful in some way or which meet specific requirements. Creativity entails taking different concepts and later combining them so as to make something that is useful and new.
Creativity and innovation in most cases are used simultaneously by most people. This is because while creativity deals with generation of new ideas, innovation helps in actualizing those ideas or transformation of ideas to activities that are profitable or rewarding. Without creativity, it is difficult to have innovation in an organization hence these two words are used simultaneously. However, there are various distinctions between creativity and innovation (Anonymous n. d). We come across the concept of creativity in our daily lives and conversations.
We always hear and learn of creative people, read creative books and admire some of the creative object done by artists. However, regardless of our innate understanding of creativity, its nature still creates confusion. However, from the various definition so far formulated by researchers and authors, it can be deduced that creativity entails breaking down the already known concepts and knowledge and trying to join such elements to come up with a useful new ideas to solve a particular problem or a dilemma.
The ability of being creative can be determined by a person’s ability to understand his or her own reality cognitive model. When a person is able to understand how he thinks pertaining to a particular subject, then he or she can be creative in that field. Creativity occurs when a person is able to arrange or organize his thoughts in a manner that can lead to a different and much better understanding of the situation or subject being considered (Harvard Business School Press, 2003).
The entire process of creativity begins when one becomes sensitive to deficiencies, problems, missing elements, existence of knowledge gaps and disharmonies, identifies such difficulties and embarks on a journey to search for possible solutions. The process of solution formulation entails making guesses based on information gathered or coming up with hypothesis pertaining to the problems or deficiencies. A person then takes a step further to test and retest such hypothesis with the last step being communication of the found results.
Today’s business environment as mentioned earlier is characterized by dynamism and high competition that requires constant changes in operations and production processes. Creativity plays a major role in initiating such changes and in identifying blue oceans and market niches for a business. There are many reasons why creativity is essential to a business and organization today (Morris, n. d). Importance of creativity to a business Creativity is a vital and essential facet of business organization.
It is of importance particularly today as business entities are faced with the dynamism in global economy brought about by globalization and technological advancement. Competition has also been on the rise with new industries and businesses being introduced to the market almost on daily basis. It is thus essential for an entity to keep up with these changes so as to remain competitive and viable in the current market conditions (Styhre & Sundgren, 2005). Creativity plays different roles in ensuring that this is achieved. Some of the reasons why creativity is importance to a business include:
Problem solving Business environment is changing rapidly today thus posing major challenges to managers as well as employees. These changes require formulation of techniques that effectively tackle these problems effectively and efficiently without negatively impacting on the profitability and productivity of a business organization. While managing, problems emanate as new or different situations arise which require novel solutions. In most cases, it is almost impossible to view solutions to such problems by applying conventional fashion form of thinking.
Logical thinking that takes the existing knowledge and employs the inference rules so as to come up with new knowledge has been found to be ineffective in enabling managers become creative in finding novel solutions to current managerial problems. This has led to an increase in demand for creative problem solving techniques that uses associations and analogies to help come up with insights to the given problems (Ray & Myers, 1986). Unlike in the past, managerial problems have changed, becoming more complicated and without any precedence.
This has been as a result of the changing face of business environment brought about by globalization and technological advancement. Changes in needs and demands of consumers as well as employees have also posed a major difficult to problem solving for managers. For satisfactory solutions to be found to such managerial problems, creative insights are required (Harvard Business School Press, 2003). Creativity as such is an essential tool that helps managers come up with new solutions to problems facing their businesses today. Leads to innovation, invention and increased competitive capability
Technological advancement, high competition, economic integration and changing needs of consumers and employees have all made innovation and invention inevitable, integral and important aspects of any business wishing to grow and survive in today’s national and global markets. Businesses have to look for ways to remain competitive while remaining relevant in the current business markets. Creativity offers the solution to this problem. One of the major ways to increase market share and competitive capability is by creating differentiation between a company goods and services from that of its competitors.
This is only achieved if an entity has creative employees. Creativity as mentioned earlier is the key towards invention and innovation. Creativity entails coming up with new ideas or ways of doing things that are only unique to an organization. Creative thinking enables individuals view a product in a different light and come up with ways to make it more appealing to end users. It helps a company create a blue ocean for its products thus gaining a competitive edge against its competitors. Creativity is precedence to innovation and invention and a prerequisite to competitiveness and survival.
This is another reason why it is essential and important to a business organization (Styhre & Sundgren, 2005). Apple is a perfect example of information technology companies that have achieved tremendous market shares and competitive advantage as a result of encouraging creativity. The company was the first to introduce the Apple iPod to the market, a gadget that was not known prior to its invention. Apple computer has been able to stay ahead of its competitors courtesy of its creative workforce. Apple iPod is today the most widely used digital music player around the world. Appealing to consumers’ needs and wants
Company growth, survival and competitiveness are only achievable if its products are able to meet both the intrinsic and extrinsic needs and wants of its customers. Customers are the ultimate judges of the worth or value of a service or product. Creativity enables a person to view a product different and to come up with ideas that can aid in improving its usefulness and be of more value to the end users. It enables a company to evaluate the different methods that can be employed to improve the quality of a product and service to meet the existing and future needs and wants of a customer.
It also helps in creating product differentiation and in soliciting product loyalty. Without creativity, it is impossible to come up with new product designs, new products or improve the quality of existing products. Creativity as such is essential to a business organization as it ensures that needs and wants of its customers are satisfactorily met (Anonymous n. d). Change driver Change is an inevitable aspect of any business with prospects of growth and survival. Change is an “ever present phenomenon which businesses have to respond to if they want to stand a best chance of survival and prosperity”.
Change initiation and management has in the past been a major problem to most managers. Creativity acts as a change driver and helps in ensuring that change is implemented effectively and efficiently. As stated earlier, creativity is the ability to diagnose or see problems or deficiencies and to restructure knowledge so as to come up with useful and new measures of solving such problems or deficiencies. This process of creative thinking always results in change implementation and management. Change is a necessity that is intrinsic in all businesses and organizations wishing to improve their performance both in short and long term.
With rapid technological, economic and cultural changes being experienced today, a company cannot retain its status quo and at the same time be effective in its productivity. Such changes exert pressure on a business to move from its old production systems to newer and more efficient ways as well as an improvement of or introduction of new services or products. Creativity plays a major role in ensuring that such changes are implemented or achieved in an organization hence acts as a change driver hence it is essential in a business (Ray & Myers, 1986). Improves employees motivation and job satisfaction
Employee motivation is essential in ensuring that a company meets its objectives and goals. Motivation is the driving force that makes a person to want to perform a task or carry out his or her duties effectively. Motivation increases pleasure of doing a task and it can be both intrinsic and extrinsic. It’s the nature of human beings to desire to come up with, and implement new methods of doing things or to perform tasks and also to experiment with new ideas. Creativity is innate to individuals although it can only be actualized in real working environment if the correct tools and resources are provided.
Organizations that encourage creativity are characterized by a highly motivated workforce (Harvard Business School Press, 2003). One of such example is Southwest Airlines Company. This company allows its employees to exercise autonomy while performing their tasks and encourages them to try out new ideas. The company invests heavily on its human resource and in return, the employees are highly innovative while dealing with customers and while delivering their services (Henry, 2002). This was real evidenced after the 9/11 terrorism attacks in the United States.
While other airlines were laying-off their workers, Southwest Airlines Company employees were willing to work extra hours and receive lesser pay. The company did not lay off its employees. Such loyalty and employees dedication to the company have been possible due to the high levels of autonomy and creativity encouraged by the management of this airline. Creativity is a major motivating factor hence essential to an organization as motivation determines the output and productivity of employees as well as their commitment and loyalty to an entity. This also helps in reducing labor turnover which can be very costly to an entity.
Major issues in encouraging creativity and supporting creative people Creativity is a process that requires deliberate and the goodwill of the management for it to be incorporated in the culture of an entity. However, even as the move towards encouraging a creative culture increases, managers today are being faced with a number of problems in their endeavors to encourage creativity and support individuals who are creative. Some of these obstacles and issues include: Organizational structure The organizational structure of a company is a major determinant of the level of creativity in such a company.
Different organizational structures have different impacts on the attainability and establishment of a creative culture. Managers managing organizations with hierarchical and bureaucratic structures have difficulties in encouraging and supporting creative people. Creativity usually occurs in a working environment that is characterized by increased employee participation and communication between the management and the workforce. It also thrives in areas where employees are allowed to exercise autonomy over the performance of their work.
Bureaucratic organizational structures places more emphasis on control and hierarchy hence does not give employees a chance to determine how to conduct their tasks. This form of structure also highly regards authority and slows down the decision making process and resources allocation. It is also adamant to changes hence creating a working environment that does not foster creativity. This is a major issue facing managers today in their endeavors to encourage creativity and support creative individuals in the workforce (Bilton, 2007). Anxiety and fear of failure
Another major obstacle to creative thinking and creative problem solving is anxiety brought about by fear of failure. Creativity entails coming up with new ideas and testing their viability in solving real life issues. Failure is a natural outcome of creativity and as such, creativity entails taking risks. Most organizations do not embrace a risk free culture hence there are high tendencies of creativity avoidance by employees. Managers today have a difficult task in creating a culture that is risk free and that would encourage employees to be creative.
Another issue related to fear of failure that is facing managers today is how to encourage and teach employees to think differently. Creativity only occurs if people are willing to break away from their traditional thinking and begin ‘thinking outside the box’. However, to make people change their thinking strategy is a difficult task for managers. Failure is part and parcel of creative thinking (Harris, n. d). Difficulties in handling criticism In most organizations today, creativity has not been attained due to negative criticism which has left many creative persons disoriented and unwilling to try out new things or ideas.
New ideas are usually criticized since most of them appear unfeasible and childish. This in turn leaves individuals feeling discouraged and demotivated to implement such ideas. Criticism also discourages other people from coming up with new solutions or ideas. This has been a major problem with most managers and it stems from fear of failure and existence of a risk conscious organizational culture. Changing such a culture is a major hindrance to managers wishing to encourage creativity and creative individuals in an organization (Henry, 2002). Lack of resources
Lack of resource is also a hindrance to managers wishing to encourage creativity and support creative persons in an entity. For creative thinking to be achieved, an organization should produce all the required resource including financial and other physical equipments. Creativity can only be actualized if the ideas are made real via implementation. Lack of resources kills the employees’ morale to be creative hence hindering creative thinking. Another aspect that accompanies creative thinking is research and development. Organizations that are not committed to research and development hinder creative thinking (Sternberg, 1999).
Poor communication Poor communication is another obstacle to creative thinking and an issue that managers are being faced with as they try to encourage and support creative persons in an entity. Communication is an avenue via which employees have the opportunity to share information with the management pertaining to current problems and opportunities available to an entity. It is through effective communication that managers are able to brainstorm for solutions thus encouraging creative thinking. Poor internal communication however has made it difficult for managers to encourage employees to be creative (Harris, n.
d). Conclusion Creativity plays an essential part in enhancing the productivity and growth of a business organization. This is because it entails coming up with new ideas to solutions brought about by internal and external environmental forces. It also enables an entity to come up with new production methods as well as products and services that meets the demands and needs of the consumers. It is apparent from the above discussion that without creativity, it is difficult to achieve growth, survival and improve the competitive capability of an entity.
Although there are various obstacles to creative thinking, managers should endeavor to instill a creative based culture in an organization characterized by high levels of communication, some degree of tolerance to failure and risk taking and a participative and integrative form of organizational structure. Creativity can only be achieved if an organization is willing to provide a working environment that is conducive as well as the necessary resources. Reference: Anonymous n. d, Creativity and its importance in business, Retrieved on 2nd June 2010 from, http://cw. routledge.
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Harvard Business Press, ISBN 1591391121 Henry, J. 2002, Creativity and perception in management, SAGE, ISBN 0761968253 Morris, W. n. d, A Survey of Organisational Creativity, Retrieved on 2nd June 2010 from, http://www. jpb. com/creative/OrganisationalCreativityMorris. pdf. Ray, M. L. & Myers, R. 1986, Creativity in business. Doubleday, ISBN 0385233760 Sternberg, R. J. 1999, Handbook of creativity. Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0521576040 Styhre, A. & Sundgren, M. 2005, Managing creativity in organizations: critique and practices. Palgrave Macmillan, ISBN 1403947686
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