Saturday, July 26, 2008

Creativity INC - Building an Inventive Organization

Hot Books In Creativity
Creativity Inc. - Building an Inventive Organization
Jeff Mauzy and Richard Harriman
Reviewed by Marysia Czarski

Both Jeff Mauzy and Richard Harriman work for Synectics that is considered a top notch consulting firm who specialize in business creativity and innovation. Their book, Creativity Inc., is a thorough review, breakdown and in may ways an argument for the necessary components to produce a company that is both creative and innovative on a long term basis so they can grow and prosper. They share four dynamics which they say are critical: “motivation, curiosity and fear, the breaking and making of connections, and evaluation.” (p.7) Ultimately these are the dynamics that will provide the pathway for both individuals and companies to reclaim, dust off and use creativity and innovation. In doing this, Mauzy and Harriman have segmented their book into three overarching areas, Creative Thinking, Climate and Action. In this review, I am going to highlight some of the points that I found most interesting and valuable from reading this book, and then give my reaction to this.
Creative Thinking
The root of creativity is defined by motivation in this book. As the source of this principle, Amabile is quoted in reference to her work on intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. We are reminded that intrinsic motivation is the more important of the motivations to be present in an individual and company, as motivation driven by rewards (extrinsic) has finite value. Mauzy and Harriman define curiosity as the aspect of the search for knowledge and sense. It’s the ingredients to have us experiment, inquire, ask questions, and scratch our heads and ponder! And as one engages their curiosity, it can increase uncertainty and in some cases enlighten an element of fear. In the process of creativity, it’s critical they assert, that we confront the risks head on and not freeze up or stop in the fear of the unknown or failure which are natural internal responses.
As we have often heard in our studies, creativity is destructive. Specifically though, we are talking about the destruction of rigid sets of assumptions about what can and can’t be done in a particular place, situation, or circumstance. Basically, assumptions inhibit the making of vital connections which are the pathway to creative output. It’s here where Mauzy and Harriman overview what I believe to be a big part of the work of Synectics, making connections. They briefly mention the discovering of Velcro which came from the replication of the burr after one man was walking in the woods with his dog. Evaluation is most successful when time, the possibility of mistakes, and apparent irrelevance and foolishness is possible and embraced.
Creativity begins with ones self, and the emphasis on being creatively fit is explored. This comes from knowing ones self, and then embracing the four aspects fore-mentioned. Mauzy and Harriman don’t expect companies to know how to integrate and become these important elements, therefore they recommend training for today’s business people to challenge how they are currently operating, what they know, how they think about their own thinking and how they make decisions. A call to action for those of us in the field!
Climate is defined as “the common collection of behaviors and expectations.” (p.88) Creative climates nurture the individuality of the person, which allows for the unleashing of intrinsic motivation and they provide support and patience for supportive evaluation. It recognizes that both structure and conversation can be intentionally designed to enhance the collective creativity of an organization, and that it needs to be managed day in and day out. The authors don’t fail to mention we must, as individuals, discover what the creative climate is that we need to be most creative. Therefore this is an important exploration for both person and company.
Action is about the methods that Synectics uses to cause creativity with their clients. It’s about generating ideas purposefully and bringing those ideas to life. Mauzy and Harriman review the many methods they use to generate creative ideas which include the elements of divergent and convergent thinking. They dig into the how to make it come to life. They are detailed and explicit about the structures needed in this very important aspect of commercializing the idea, and ultimately making it into a valuable innovation.
My Reaction
This was a wonderful book to read. I found there was a fantastic balance of framework and examples provided for the principles being presented. I took a lot of notes from the book, and could probably provide at least ten pages of key aspects. I also found that the key principles of this book were very consistent with the work we’ve been doing in our Master’s program, therefore it provided a further confirmation of our work, and its value both for us as individuals and for the companies and communities we work and live in. This would be a good and valuable read for anyone interested and committed to growing, influencing and bringing about positive change in every aspect of living and leading.

No comments: