Creativity Research

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Everyone is desperate to come up with THE innovative, new idea that revolutionizes their field. But how are things like that done? Teresa Amabile heads the Entrepreneurial Management Unit at Harvard Business School and is the only tenured professor at a top B-school to devote her entire research program to the study of creativity and is one of the country's foremost explorers of business innovation.

Her Study:
In an interesting method of research, she collected daily "diaries" from 238 people working on creative projects in seven companies in the consumer products, high-tech, and chemical industries. The participants weren't made aware that "creativity" was what she was watching for but she dug for it by asking them about challenges they faced, what their work environment was like every day, and especially when they came up with solutions to problems. With nearly 12,000 entries to process the article states that Amabile and her team are still examining them but they feel they've already flipped 6 myths about creativity.

1. Creativity doesn't have to come from "creative types". Anyone with normal intelligence can be creative or spark the next great idea for your company.
2. Money doesn't motivate creativity. In fact, it seems that people who are busy thinking about bonuses or being paid are less likely to be creative. Most respondents in the study said they didn't consider their pay on a day to day basis. Their job is their job. She also suggests that people who are so worried about their pay are more likely to be risk-averse thinking they'll be punished if they try something new and out of the ordinary. "People are most creative when they care about their work and they're stretching their skills. If the challenge is far beyond their skill level, they tend to get frustrated; if it's far below their skill level, they tend to get bored."
3. Time pressure doesn't fuel creativity. Interestingly, most of the respondents thought that being on deadline made them more creative but her data showed the opposite. "Time pressure stifles creativity because people can't deeply engage with the problem. Creativity requires an incubation period; people need time to soak in a problem and let the ideas bubble up." I know that I've felt this with Graphic Design projects I've had in the past. The less time I have to do it, the more standard it is.
4. Neither fear nor sadness spur creativity. "There's a kind of virtuous cycle. When people are excited about their work, there's a better chance that they'll make a cognitive association that incubates overnight and shows up as a creative idea the next day. One day's happiness often predicts the next day's creativity."
5. Competition doesn't beat collaboration. "when people compete for recognition, they stop sharing information. And that's destructive because nobody in an organization has all of the information required to put all the pieces of the puzzle together." I've found it so helpful to have weekly critiques for my graphics class. It's always great to get a fresh pair of eyes on your work.
6. A streamlined organization does not make a creative organization. "Creativity suffers greatly during a downsizing...Every single one of the stimulants to creativity in the work environment went down significantly."

Overall, interesting things to keep in mind for whatever field you work in.

All info from:

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This page contains a single entry by knowl124 published on December 5, 2012 12:03 PM.

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