The Decline of Corporate Creativity?




Harvard Business Review recently posted another fascinating note on The Daily Stat, which pointed to an Encyclopedia Brittanica (They’re not dead… yet!) article entitled “The Decline of Creativity in the United States: 5 Questions for Educational Psychologist Kyung Hee Kim.

The focus of the article is on childhood creativity, and measures such as the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking (TTCT), that indicate that American Children have been significantly declining in creative thinking over the last 20 years.

Much blame is laid on videogames, TVs, absent parents, etc..

But laying blame won’t help anyone, and wringing our hands won’t either.

To Innovate or Not To Innovate (is NOT the Question)

I’ve been involved explicitly in Innovation Management work for about the last 6 years, and arguably, much of my professional life in the last twenty years has been in applying the worlds of content management, knowledge management, process management, search, taxonomies, and newer memes like Enterprise 2.0 in innovative ways to the vast majority of companies who still have not even become aware of, yet alone mastered, any of these areas.

Innovation doesn’t happen in a vacuum – it happens for one or more reasons – not simply because of a mandate to “innovate more” (closely tied with “collaborate more” – both rallying cries are likely to cause more pain than to solve pains).

Innovation needs context, and a reason to exist as a motivator for change, whether Big I Innovation (Innovation as most people define it – i.e. “Big Bang Edison-like Innovation”), or small i innovation (improvement – which is also necessary, and not done nearly enough).

What’s been fascinating to experience in the last 6 years, is a remarkable shift in attention for the need, hell bent at times, to finally ACT on a desire to “be innovative” within organizations.

Are You an Innovator?
(Hint: The Answer is *always* Yes…)

Honestly, we could debate for hours, days, months… decades, about where the blame should sit for lack of corporate creativity. For me, I prefer Innovation Action over raw Innovation Talk.

Even though my background is as a musician (Berklee College of Music is what brought me to Boston oh so many years ago), and I’ve always thought of myself as a “creative guy” – I made a fatal mistake in my creative career.

I thought I didn’t need “creativity tools” – didn’t need to collaborate with others to be creative – and that my “natural talents” and my, myself and I, were all I needed.

Turns out… that’s a great foundation – but to do innovation WELL… to do innovation repeatedly… to do it on a significant scale… we need better tools – not (necessarily) technological tools, but thinking tools. The tools that we were never taught in school, no matter how many degrees you have lining your wall.

Your Future Innovation Ability Starts Now

I will have more posts coming up on this topic – in the meantime, if you feel your innovative capacity, as a person, as a team, as a company, are not being adequately tapped – what is your plan to turn that problem into an opportunity? Any particular approach you’ve used to successfully unstick innovation pipelines? Comment below – the more awareness we can generate, the better the State of Innovation will be, in whatever context you’re working within.

If you’re interested in a half-day to two-day innovation workshop to change the way you create your innovation teams, and arm them with the best creative problem solving and decision making tools – join over 5,000 adults (and 20 million kids – seriously), who have taken advantage of the material in our innovation training.

Request a Free 30 Minute Innovation Assessment

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