AuthorMark Mendenhall, Laurie Hillstrom

Page 149

Creativity is an imaginative process that results in the creation of something new, be it a product, a service, or a technique. In his book Managing Creativity, John J. Kao of Harvard Business School observes that creativity is "a human process leading to a result which is novel (new), useful (solves an existing problem or satisfies an existing need), and understandable (can be reproduced)."

Creativity involves the merging or synthesis of differing concepts into a new concept that did not previously exist. Because creativity reflects the process of integrating diversity into new realities, many researchers have been interested in the skills necessary to be creative in one's work. Personality characteristics associated with people who are creative in nature include: openness to experience; being able to see things in unusual ways; curiosity; the ability to accept and reconcile apparent opposites; having a high tolerance for ambiguity; possessing an independence in thought and action; needing and assuming autonomy or self-reliance; a healthy level of nonconformity; a risk-taking orientation; persistence; sensitivity to problems; the ability to generate large numbers of ideas; flexibility; openness to unconscious phenomena; freedom from fear of failure; the ability to concentrate; and imagination. All of these skills reflect the complexity of trying to measure and predict the creative process. It is a multidimensional and often complex phenomenon that does not easily lend itself to social scientific investigation.

Many management scholars and social observers have argued that in order to stay on the cutting edge of an industry, companies must be able to respond quickly to market opportunities and threats, utilize the ideas of their people more comprehensively, and create new products and services more quickly and efficiently. All of these conditions require the creation of new ways of doing things within the company. Thus, some observers have argued that companies need to develop cultures that foster creativity rather than suppress it. Although this argument has been made by many management scholars since World War II, during the 2000s the rapid pace of technological change within the business world made the issue more cogent than in previous decades. In fact, an American Management Association survey of 500 CEOs, reported in Psychology Today, selected "practice creativity and innovation" as the top factor in...

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