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Creativity and a Shared Failure to Communicate
Posted on February 12, 2011 | Veronica Adams
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Failure to make the business case:

As discussed in previous posts, divergent thinkers have retained more of the natural curiosity we are all born with, often think of key questions, and frequently have ideas for creative solutions that might be extremely helpful.  But, unfortunately, organizations often don’t reap the benefits of their potential innovations when these haven't been presented with hard data and practical implementation blueprints.  In other words, when  innovators haven’t made the business cases. 

Frequently, creative thinkers fail to do this because either a) they don’t know how; b) they lack the confidence; or c) they fail to understand or respect the need.  This may have resulted because:

  1. They don’t tend to receive the same amount of mentorship as do those who eagerly follow along with things as they are and who display less "bothersome" inquisitiveness.  So divergent thinkers may not have the experiential foundation to know what is needed.  
  2. In addition to having received less managerial coaching, their previous attempts to share ideas may have frequently been disregarded or put down.  These factors impact their confidence.  

At the same time, many decision-makers have so bound themselves to linear analysis that, unlike the “stand-out” leaders in the IBM study, many are uncomfortable with ambiguity and are unable to process ideas that are open-ended.  Therefore, they don't allow themselves to consider the ideas of creative types who haven’t presented them within strong business cases.

 There is hope: A meeting in the middle:

Decision-makers need to become more receptive to creative concepts in their purer forms, even those that haven’t been presented with cost benefit analyses and all of the supporting data they feel more comfortable with.  It's these sorts of fresh and unpolished ideas that brainstorming is supposed to produce, although most people hold back in that process for fear of going out on a limb.  (Upcoming blog post!)  (However, it is highly unlikely that most managers will move beyond their comfort zones and increase their receptiveness to open-ended creative ideas and what they may perceive as greater risk until they receive pressure from their leaders or boards.)

 Creative thinkers need to partner with colleagues who have more experience with the primary evaluation criteria preferred by their managers and who can help them build the business case platforms for their ideas. A best practice for leaders is to initiate the creation of “incubator” partnerships among their staff in ways that combine differing skill sets and can produce solid proposals for innovative solutions.

 That’s a win-win-win!

 

 

 

 

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