The Importance of Creativity & Innovation in Business
Often, we think that only those who produce work such as art or music are creative, but creativity and innovation are important in all roles and in all organizations. Before we can cultivate greater creativity and innovation in our organizations, we need to be able to define it within a business context.
Creativity is the production of novel and useful ideas or solutions. Innovation is often used to indicate change, and includes developing new creative processes, establishing strategies and using different business models.
Given these definitions, it’s easier to imagine how we can be creative and innovative in various types of roles. For example, finding a cost cutting measure is a creative solution or applying a proven business model in one line of business to solve a challenge in another part of the business, is innovative. Looking at challenges differently and re-framing obstacles by seeking input and points of view from a wide range of perspectives inspires creative problem solving.
HR teams can support a culture of innovation and creativity in many ways.
How Human Resources can Support a Culture of Innovation
Human resource management connects with innovation on two levels: the organization in general (e.g., building an innovative organization with a creative climate) and specific innovation activities, projects and/or stages (e.g., staffing, teamwork, leadership, employee creativity, career development).
An recent HR survey (Add in reference here) revealed four key factors of a corporate culture that support creativity and innovation:
- Leaders visibly promote new ideas from all areas of the organization;
- Entrepreneurial and risk-taking behaviors are encouraged;
- Growth as a result of innovation is considered as important as cost reduction;
- Learning from mistakes is important, with toleration for failure.
Unfortunately, according to HR executives, innovation is not typically considered a high priority in their organizations. From an HR point of view, certain factors could better support innovative initiatives, such as improved systems for knowledge management and dissemination;identification of skills needed for innovation; and integration of skills gaps into recruiting criteria.
Other HR practices that create an innovative and creative environment include:
- Hiring employees who embrace uncertainty and ambiguity
- Hiring employees from different backgrounds (academic, experience, geography, etc.) to improve diversity of thought
- Providing training on creative thinking techniques
- Rewarding and recognizing employees who demonstrate creativity and innovation