Creativity and innovation are the two irreplaceable components of progress. Without creativity and innovation, our species would not have reached the technological levels it has reached.
Understanding and knowledge are also two extraordinary activities that distinguish us, but, while constituting the basis for our intellectual development, they remain ineffective without the constructive action of change and adaptation of reality to our needs.
But what exactly are creativity and innovation? Is there a difference between the two? And what comes first, creativity or innovation?
Creativity is defined as the tendency to generate or recognize alternative ideas or possibilities that can be helpful in solving problems, communicating with others, and entertaining ourselves and others. (Human Motivation , 3rd ed. By Robert E. Franken). It is the free elaboration of our imaginative ideas, which leads us to new and original visions. The very idea of creativity is that of the conception of an idea that was not there before. It is not the revisitation or the simple assembly of existing ideas, it is the formulation of totally new ideas. Creativity adds, does not reshape.
What about innovation?
Innovation is the physical and concrete realization of creativity. Innovation realizes and implements what creativity conceives, it is the engineering part of creativity. Thus, it is clear that creativity precedes innovation.
How can a leader guide this process?
Let's start by saying that a creative leader is also rational and that there is no contradiction between creativity and rationality. Rationality is a dynamic activity that develops on a continuum of understanding, creativity and logic, and the order in which these three elements alternate is variable. Often our creativity develops through a phase of enlightening understanding, or understanding, once logically codified, proves to inspire new ideas.
Creativity in a work group is nourished by cultivating an atmosphere of perennial curiosity and research. The team must feel encouraged to never stop at the first idea, but always look for new solutions. To do this, he must feel free, an indispensable prerequisite to guarantee the maximum expressive capacity of individuals. A leader must never "choke" the stimulus to creativity, rather he must guide and direct it towards the objectives and priorities of the team.
The next step is the one related to innovation, i.e. the practical implementation of new ideas. In a work team it is good to specify this difference and to make everyone's interest converge towards the "materialization" of creative activity. Without this phase the team work is abstract and inconclusive, becoming frustrating in the long run. Nothing is more rewarding than conceiving new ideas and seeing them realized.
What are the key conditions for having a truly creative and innovative team?
- Guarantee a climate of safety, trust and mutual respect.
- Maximum focus on the subject of the creative research activity. The more vague the goal, the more dispersed the team's activity will be.
- Guarantee and guarantee yourself maximum organization. Freedom of thought is best expressed in orderly contexts.
- Ask a lot of questions and be willing to listen. Do not be pressing, but do not give up asking and asking again if you think you have seen a possible good idea on the horizon. Your questions contribute, as in any healthy dialectical process, to focus your interlocutor on his own ideas.
- Let us take the time. Starting a creative research path by giving a deadline for the solution too close, does not allow you to complete the path in the best possible way. Furthermore, it is good that the meetings take place, giving the team members time to settle the partial results, proposing each time with new developments and new ideas. Obviously, sooner or later, you will have to give yourself a deadline.
- Once you have framed the idea you intend to develop, proceed with the implementation and development plan, through a series of action points that allow the effective innovative implementation.
A leader who does not encourage his collaborators to develop these skills is almost certainly destined to lose esteem and consideration.