University of Phoenix
OI 461 Innovation, Design, and Creativity for a Competitive Advantage
Brandon S. Smith
February 25, 2008
The terms innovation, creativity, and design are frequently used in today’s business world and are essential in helping businesses flourish. Along with having a variety of meanings associated with these terms, innovation, creativity, and design are disciplines that span boundaries, and need to be understood in an integrated manner. These topics deal with curiosity, experimentation, dissatisfaction with the status quo, and the desire for continuous improvement.
Every business or organization exists to solve problems, which means that every business and individual has the opportunity to develop new solutions and resources for growth. Within a business, the terms innovation, design, and creativity are used frequently while associates are conducting business. In order to compare and contrast innovation, design, and creativity, one must understand the meaning behind the terms.
Innovation can be defined as a “frame of mind” and the act of developing an idea in its physical form such as a new product, service or process. It means finding solutions to problems. It can be categorized as a product innovation, things an organization offers, process innovation, and the way in which they are created and delivered. It consists of two components: implementation and creativity. Implementation is putting ideas into practice and is made up of three aspects: idea selection, development, and commercialization. It is about behaving differently, being organized, structured, and using a methodological and systematic approach which cannot be left to chance. Time is of the essence in some cases and one is required to work fast. Organizations need processes, procedures and structures to achieve implementation in order for projects to be completed in a timely manner. While implementation is putting an idea into practice, creativity is the fundamental business process of developing the basic idea from the beginning. Creativity is an essential part of innovation and is the act of developing an idea, thinking differently, being different, thinking laterally, making new connections, and development of an idea.
Creativity, whether applied for individual purposes or within a business context, is not necessarily a moment of inspiration, but rather is a culmination of an entire body of knowledge acquired by several years of refinement in the arts, history, sciences, and mathematics. Being creative is not just limited to a few selected individuals; it can be stimulated and supported through training, educating, and utilization in the right work environment and atmosphere. Creativity cannot be ordered (“ordained”) since it relies on basic motivation, enthusiasm, inspiration and knowledge. Companies must rely on raw data, but creativity and innovation only occur when data is combined with intuition (vonStamm, 2003).
Creativity is defined as grace (divine inspiration, ideas that comes to the mind), accident (serendipitous), association (lateral thinking and brainstorming), personality (a particular human ability, an intrinsic part of life and growth, natural talent which directs attention towards removing mental barriers and creativity), and cognitive (creativity is relies on normal cognitive process such as recognition, reasoning and understanding). Scientist such as Thomas Edison used a wide range of different filaments before developing a functioning light bulb. This emphasizes on hard work, productivity, and intense preparation. Some assume that creativity is not just something that happens to us, but that it is something that can be encouraged and perhaps even trained. But even when accepting that creativity can be learned, there are some people who are just more creative than others, and much research has been undertaken to identify what their characteristics may include.
Creative people have the ability to formulate new problems rather than depending on others to define them, and they have the ability to transfer what they learn across different contexts. Creative people come with a variety of different traits, including sensitivity, observation, fantasizing, imaginative, intuitive, original, energetic, and many other qualities (vonStamm, 2003).
Design is about looking at everyday things with new eyes and working out how they can be made better. It is about challenging existing technology and methods. Design is the tangible outcome, such as the end product of design such as cameras, cars, etc. It is a creative activity and is the process by which information is transformed into a tangible outcome. Design is the conscious decision-making process by which information (an idea) is transformed into an outcome, be it tangible (product) or intangible (service). It is about comparing alternatives to select the best possible solution, exploring, and experimenting. Design deals with grace (inspiration), association (application of procedures from one area to another), lateral thinking and brainstorming, and personality viewing creativity with our human ability. Design is about doing things consciously, and not because they have always been done in a certain way; it is about comparing alternatives to select the best possible solution; it is about exploring and experimenting. Designers usually share many or all of the same traits as creative people, because they usually involve much the same activities. (vonStamm, 2003).
The business implications for innovation, design, and creativity include, as an example, information technology. The I.T. industry has changed the way people can share ideas and information through the use of email, presentations, and video conference. People working in different organizations, on different continents can work on the same project either together at the same time or, if on different continents, during their respective working hours. For example, Ford Motor Company can hold project teams in several different locations and time zones while working together on one project, accelerating development time significantly (vonStamm, 2003).
As one can see, the business world can use the terms innovation, creativity, and design in very different, yet similar ways. Today, more businesses are starting to realize that each topic is needed to thrive and grow to be productive companies. Because of the new generation of people, each associate of a company is learning that in order to remain a great team member they will too need to become familiar with these terms.
von Stamm, B. (2003). Managing Innovation, Creativity and Design. Unites States: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.