Creativity and Innovation
Creativity has a common concept in our daily conversation. Creative thinking involves restructuring and dissecting our knowledge concerning something to achieve new perceptions into its nature. According to Baldacchino (2009), therefore, understanding one’s cognitive reality model can be an essential determinant of an individual’s capacity to think creatively. On the other hand, innovation involves introducing new services or products into a market. In this essay, we shall be reviewing why innovation and creativity have often played such significant roles in business development and success today and in the past. First, this essay will consider the concepts of creativity and innovation illustrating the differences between the two concepts. Further, the essay will discuss the roles played by creativity and innovation in facilitating business excellence. This will be important in illustrating why businesses are highly inclined to the notions of creativity and innovation. The section will determine whether the changing business environments, increasing market competitiveness, and technological developments have been putting pressure on businesses to be creative and innovative. This paper will similarly provide information on how companies can build corporate cultures that promote continuous evolution, creativity, and innovation. A number of examples will be used in demonstrating the practical applications of creativity and innovation in modern companies, plus how this has been influencing their business competitiveness and success.
The Concepts of Creativity and Innovation
Innovation is a term derived from Latin meaning ‘to make new’. In the business world, innovation, therefore, means the act of launching or introducing new products into a market. Further, it implies the process of developing new services or products, making incremental changes, introducing new ideas/methods or organizational improvements (Baldacchino, 2009). Innovation differs from invention considering that the latter means finding out or discovering (i.e. original thought). However, both innovation and invention are types of creativity although inventive abilities do not often lead to innovation. Thomas Edison, for instance, possibly among the most successful inventor worldwide with 1093 patents accrued to his name surprisingly was a non-successful innovator. Edison’s financial supporters always removed the individual from most of his newly found businesses, handing them over to professional managers.
Forster (2013) defined creativity as a person’s ability of synthesizing ideas in a new way or making unusual links between entities of knowledge such that it results in a very different interpretation or understanding of reality from the norm. The lateral thinking and creative abilities of most people are normally weakened or eroded by the formal learning/education received in secondary schools and universities/colleges. Educations in such contexts comprise lengthy and tedious learning processes and examinations tests. The majority of traditional firms similarly stress on the performance measurement and control instead of learning and creativity.
Although innovation has been considered very important in businesses, most managers and leaders have continually been skeptical concerning the business value associated with creativity. Undoubtedly, most of the daily work in companies is routine that involves a lot of efficient repetitions or fine-tuning the productive processes that have been successful before (Forster, 2013). Creativity and innovation means constant evolution and change, which many companies may find stressful and threatening. Nonetheless, business organizations must always welcome radical innovations to facilitate business success. During the 1990s, for example, Charles Schwab was forced to make a hard decision to transfer their business online. The company was well aware that such a move would reduce their prices by 60% (Forster, 2013). Other firms like Merril Lynch were hesitant in taking such an action. Consequently, this innovative move made Charles Schwab generate an obvious short-term competitive edge over their competitors.
Innovative companies, therefore, benefit in diverse ways in that they are more capable in adapting to change and respond more rapidly to environmental changes. Furthermore, such companies create a path for other companies to follow since they are market leaders, they have greater ability in discovering new opportunities than their competitors and their profitability is more consistent over long periods than the non-innovative firms (Baldacchino, 2009). Creative and innovative business practices have been evident in companies, such as Walt Disney, a US-based organizational. The success of this company has been largely attributed to their ability in matching great ideas with innovation and creativity plus their determination to promote smart business strategies. Great organizational leaders must have the vital traits that can allow their companies to be creative and innovative in today’s turbulent market. Such individuals must first be innovative and creative, and have integrity and a global thinking. Business leaders must have the ability of envisioning the future of their companies, which constitutes innovation. The individuals can identify new markets and new business opportunities. Vision generates from their ability to view the world in a new and different way while also linking the existing knowledge bodies to develop new ideas (Knight & Abraham, 2001).
Innovations in Human History
10,000 BC to 300 AD
Neolithic to the classical antiquity era refers to the period from 10,000 BC to 300AD.Man’s technological rise started during the Neolithic period or the ‘New Stone Age’. Inventions like the polished stone axes served a key development since it facilitated large-scale forest clearance to establish farms. Agricultural discovery enabled bigger populations to be fed plus the shift from the nomadic way of life to the sedentist way of life. Consequently, this increased population plus the availability of labor that resulted in labor specialization subsequently. Advancement from the Neolithic villages to the modern civilization was advanced by the emergence of highly hierarchical social structures, war and trade among close cultures, labor socialization plus the need for a collective action towards countering environmental difficulties like the building of reservoirs and dikes (Dollinger, n.d).
Among the discoveries made during this period were the metal tools. Consistent improvement resulted in bellows and furnace, providing the ability for forging and smelting native metals like silver, lead, copper and gold. Copper was more advantageous to human beings than the previously used wooden, stone and bone tools. Native copper was possibly utilized almost at the beginning of the Neolithic period, approximately 8000 BC. Metal working finally led to the innovation of alloys like brass and bronze, around 4000 BC. Moreover, the application of iron steel like steel started around 1400 BC. Another innovation during this Neolithic period related to energy and transport. Sailboat used wind power and is the first use of wind power in history. The first ship sailing recorded was seen during 3200 BC related to an Egypt-based pot (Dollinger, n.d). Since the prehistoric periods, Egyptians possibly used Nile yearly floods power to facilitate irrigation activities over their lands, steadily learning to control much of the floods via deliberately built catch basins and irrigation channels. Early Mesopotamia people also learnt the use of river Euphrates and Tigris to facilitate irrigation. However, more extensive utilization of water and wind power demanded for an additional invention (Dodge, n.d).
Around 4000 BC, the wheel was invented possibly independently and almost simultaneously in Central Europe, Northern Caucasus and within Mesopotamia, presently known as Iraq. The earliest artifacts that had drawings depicting wheeled carts occurred around 3000 BC. They also indicate that wheels were applied in pottery production during the same period (Ameriska, 2003). Wheel invention altered different activities like war, pottery production and transportation. Later, wheeled wagons were discovered to help in ferrying heavy loads while the speedy potters’ wheels (rotary) allowed for the oldest mass pottery production. Wheels served as the energy transformer through windmills, treadmills and water wheels, which revolutionized the use of non-human sources of power.
300 AD to Present
The period defines innovations that occurred during the medieval age as well as the modern age. Innovations continued taking place throughout the Middle Ages, innovating things like horse collar, horseshoes, and silk during the first several 100 years following the Roman Empire downfall. During this period, medieval technology witnessed the application of simple machines like the screw, pulley and lever. The tools were joined to create more complicated tools including the windmills, clocks and wheelbarrow. The Renaissance period also developed most of such innovations inclusive of the printing press that allowed more communication. Consequently, technology became highly affiliated with science thereby starting a mutual advancement cycle (Wise, 1985). Technological developments during this period or era enabled a steadier food supply plus a greater access to consumer products. The Industrial Revolution started in the 18th century within UK, which was a period of huge technological discovery especially in the fields of mining, metallurgy, agriculture, manufacturing and transport. All such discoveries were facilitated by the steam power discovery. Technological discoveries advanced further through electricity harnessing to develop other innovations like the light bulb, and electric motor, among many others. Scientific advancement plus the innovation of other new concepts later on enabled the development of powered flight plus other advancements in chemistry, engineering, medicine and physics.
Technological increases have resulted in the building of skyscrapers plus huge cities where inhabitants depend heavily on automobiles plus other powered transportation (Wise, 1985). Further, communication improved greatly following the invention of telephone, television, telegraph and radio. During the late periods of the 19th century and the early times of the 20th century, transportation revolutionized greatly after the invention of train, automobiles, steam-powered ship and airplane. Indeed, the 20th century was a period of massive innovations in human history. In physics, innovation in nuclear fission resulted in the discovery of nuclear power and nuclear weapons. Similarly, other equipment such as the computers was invented, and afterward miniaturized using integrated circuits and transistors. All such innovations were under a technology known as information technology, which later resulted in the establishment of internet that steered the modern information age. In addition, humans have managed to conduct space exploration through satellites that were later on used in telecommunication. In the medical field, the developments led to innovations like the open-heart surgery and stem-cell therapy in addition to new treatments and medications.
The Role of Creativity and Innovation in Businesses
Gain a Competitive Edge and Competitive Advantages
Innovation and creativity can produce competitive advantages while also acting as the basis of sustained innovation. The response speed to organizational problems, information structure, and free information sharing can form the foundation of developing such advantages (O’Reilly & Tushman, 1997). Most managers exploit, protect, and appropriate innovation while also creating time for groups as well as individuals to contemplate change and finance the human resources. In this case, familiarization and training required in turning ideas into implementation becomes crucial. However, only a limited number of competitive advantages last for long. Creativity and innovation promotes strategic intent where the outcomes are clear and the strategies of accomplishing them are flexible. According to O’Reilly and Tushman (1997), a company’s ability to enhance their existing skills and learning new skills is the most justifiable competitive advantage. In order to develop new competitive advantages, the senior management should demonstrate urgency, provide workers with the required skills for effective work execution, be customer focused, and allow companies to absorb each challenge at a time. The companies should similarly develop clear targets and review alternatives. Nonetheless, the goal of smart firms is to compete on an innovative level as opposed to an imitative one.
During the 1990s, innovation came to be regarded as a vital competency in organizations to boost their market survival (Forster, 2013). Most ordinary management methods have been in application by almost all big and medium-sized businesses within the industrialized world. Such techniques include the supply chain management (SCM), business process reengineering (BPR), total quality management (TQM), just-in-time (JIT), and outsourcing. To have a competitive edge, therefore, businesses have been seeking new ways of boosting their performance and enhancing the quality and uniqueness of products/services they deliver to the market. Business organizations have also acknowledged that the continuous application of conventional management techniques can result in inflexibility and rigidity. Forster (2013) observed that this is so despite the fact that they have been helpful in enhancing organizational efficiencies for the last 20 years worldwide.
Trends in today’s business world illustrate that knowledge, intellectual capital, and new ideas have become the core facilitators of competitiveness in businesses. According to Forster (2013), these emerging developments are being employed by modern businesses to generate competitive advantages for business success and market survival. Creativity and innovation, thus, are being preferred by businesses because they have been playing a critical role in generating competitive advantages, which enables firms to remain ahead of competition. Moreover, while internal processes and systems have become just a requirement for companies to gain access to the competitive business world, non-linear innovativeness has emerged to be among the key drivers for long-term wealth creation for most organizations. Merely creating one profitable product/service well is no longer adequate to compete in today’s markets. The development of a sound flow of new ideas and generation of new products/services that are relevant to the market is the key to success (Knight & Abraham, 2001).
Influence on Bottom-line Profitability and Performance
Innovation has been observed to have a great influence on the bottom-line profitability and performance of business organizations. For example, in the period 1984-1999, the top 20% companies within the innovation poll that is always conducted annually by the Fortune Company attained a double-fold of the shareholder returns. Forster (2013) stated that the most critical factor that differentiates high-growth firms from their low-growth counterparts relates to the weight placed upon strategic innovation. Boston Consulting Group conducted a study on 940 companies that demonstrated that 87% of the executives (respondents) believed that innovation is an essential factor in facilitating organic growth of a business. In fact, about 75% of those companies had plans underway to increase their investments on innovation. Among the most innovative firms discovered by this study were General Electric (GE), Sony, 3M, Microsoft, and Apple. The companies are highly committed in promoting and maintaining working cultures that greatly support innovation.
According to Forster (2013), the companies do this through attracting creative staffs, rewarding their innovations while also embracing their ideas and turning them into relevant/marketable consumer products. The companies align employees’ creativity with the high technical skills plus speedy execution of their ideas. Further, the companies are proficient in reconfiguring and initiating incremental improvements upon the company’s existing technology and products. Apple Computer, for example, successfully introduced their new iPod product. Although the basic technology used in producing this product was developed in 1999 at Compaq, Apple Company used the technology and developed their hard-drive capabilities. Upon completion, the company covered the product with an ultra-cool case and introduced the new product to the market as un-inevitable electronic consumer product. The product has further undergone additional improvements in terms of decorations to make it marketable. Apple also launched the iPhone product in 2007 and by 2009 (May), the company had created 27 more applications for professional, travel, and entertainment applications (Forster, 2013).
Long-term Organizational Success
Innovation and creativity are key drivers of long-term success because they boost a company’s ability to increase their business value. Moreover, the markets within which business organizations operate offer both a risk and opportunity for business to excel. According to Knight and Abraham (2001), markets offer opportunities if companies get it correct and pose threats if they fail, especially considering the strong competitive nature of the majority of industries. Taking the case of the Telecom Company market wars, Apple and Samsung have emerged winners due to their ability in leveraging powerful innovation machines. Through their respective innovative capabilities, the ultimate price in their marketplace has been evident. In the last two decades, there has been widespread literature supporting innovation and creativity as the primary drivers of longstanding business excellence, longevity, and adaptability. Business organizations that have always been successful and secured market leadership have affiliated their success with innovation. According to Forster (2013), the Fortune Company is among the key successful firms that have linked their success to continuous innovation. Moreover, all the world’s leading companies have always believed that the key towards remaining at the top in the market involves constant learning and innovation.
Ability to Manage Market Environmental Changes
Companies face many challenges and problems everyday, which may have a limited number of solutions. Creativity, thus, plays a critical role in enabling organizational management to make decisions that enable them to manage organizational changes that can allow them to overcome problems they face within the market environment. In identifying and solving most of the challenges that occur in business, it is of paramount importance to challenge the problem-solving abilities of the people in charge. In most cases, the creative procedures employed in approaching problems must be restructured as well as redeveloped to generate new ideas that can offer long-term solutions. Change is an inherent necessity in any business organization that aspire a better and a longstanding performance (O’Reilly & Tushman, 1997). Furthermore, a company should always be progressing.
Trying to always do things the same always without changing strategies used in the past could result in many challenging difficulties within a business environment that is always experiencing economic, cultural, environmental, and technological changes. Certainly, change has often been an ever-present phenomenon where all types of businesses must respond accordingly in order to survive and prosper in business (O’Reilly & Tushman, 1997). The rapid competition growth in businesses and industry has always been affiliated with the reason for companies to be creative. Many companies are consistently experiencing pressure to improve their products and change the old systems. Survival in today’s market environment and growth of businesses is directly related to their ability in developing and implementing new services/products and processes.
Among the basic aspects that determines a company’s success or failure is their ability to remain competitive within the rapidly changing business environment. Modern businesses with their emphasis on building bigger markets, competition, team working, and strategic planning has developed the need for new decision making and problem solving through creativity and innovation. Similarly, organizational managers are required to spot new and improved ways of solving problems. Specifically, most of the problems have limited or no precedents implying that only few ways of approaching such problems have been tested intending to obtain successful results. However, in order for a business organization to remain in business, responding creatively to problems is inevitable. Problems encountered by businesses can be found in both the internal and external environments (Knight & Abraham, 2001).
Internal environments can comprise issues like poor internal communication, poorly motivated staffs, inadequate planning, and financial problems. External problems can consist of slow economic growth, growing the company sales with the same pace as competition within the high-growth markets, managing new industrial entrants, coping with short-lived product lifecycles, and handling new technological developments (Knight & Abraham, 2001). Organizational changes facilitated by external or internal factors build a non-conducive work environment. Management in such organizations, therefore, should respond positively in such circumstances such that creativity becomes a basic requirement for effective leaders. Creative leaders are able to discover new problems and are particularly successful in managing new challenges that demand for new solutions that differ from the usual or routine traditional strategies. Such leaders have a strategic vision with high ability to inspire other people through their creative talents. Since creativity is a vital human resource, organizations should always try to maximize on such resources through developing and promoting work settings that freely allow creative talents to flourish.
Working Cultures that Promote Continuous Creativity, Evolution & Innovation
Most innovative companies today have recognized that they cannot depend on the few innovators or geniuses to help in creating new ideas. For this reason, such companies are fostering working processes and practices that promote creativity, cross-fertilization, and quick dissemination of ideas (Knight & Abraham, 2001). The companies are also creating working cultures that attract and win creative individuals into the company. Theoretically, this sounds like a viable proposition but practically most firms still struggle in converting research and development (R&D) funds and their employees’ creativity into marketable commodities or services. For example, Apple Computers constantly invests less on R&D yet they outperformed other companies that spend huge funds in such investments in terms of corporate success through factors like profit growth margins, revenue growth, and the total returns on shareholders.
According to Forster (2013), this was a sure proof that innovational success is not based on the total amount spent but rather the way the funds are spent. Companies that have greatly aligned cultures and vastly aligned innovation strategies tend to generate a higher growth in enterprise value and higher profit growth in comparison to organizations with low alignment degrees. Innovative organizations like Apple create working environments and cultures that support and foster the development of new ideas across their workforce. The company has also learnt that the generation of new ideas should be the responsibility of every employee regardless of position or level. All employees are considered valuable assets that can and should always contribute towards the company’s growth.
The Analysis of Apple Computers
Hiring Creative Individuals and Mavericks
Building an innovative company culture is simpler if a company can attract and retains creative individuals. Majority of modern employers are recognizing this fact, thereby making this form of recruitment a priority. According to Forster (2013), most business organizations today are seeking critical and creative thinkers because they acknowledge them as basic assets to the growth of their businesses. Some employers have even been shunning job applications from new graduates on claims that such persons lack creativity, communication skills, innovative abilities or capacity to think independently. Nevertheless, other innovative firms are seizing such opportunities by recruiting such graduates to introduce fresh thinking and new ideas into the organization.
Apple Computer is among the most innovative companies globally. The company invests much of their time in their selection and recruitment processes to ensure they get the best talent without much consideration on their culture, gender or age. Moreover, every company that aspires to innovate successfully must recruit, promote, and work with people with different abilities. Such companies should always understand their preferences and weaknesses so that they hire persons that can complement such gaps while exploiting a company’s strengths.
Understand Innovation and Creativity
As a manager in an organization, it is critical to understand breakthrough, creativity and lateral thinking. Further, it is also important to know how such factors differ from the ordinary form of thinking that is normally characterized by what people do daily at their workplaces. Company leaders should always appreciate and embrace creative ideas from their employees and convert such ideas into concepts that can be developed. The market potential for such ideas should be assessed as well as the feasibility, and later developed into a product that can be marketed and advertised to reach the final consumer. As senior managers strive for greater business efficiency, it is important for them to learn how to put up with stupid ideas because they serve as the basis for a well performing pipeline for innovation (Forster, 2013).
Managers should know and understand that securing good ideas that can boost product/service quality will require the company to generate many small ideas. Indeed, this is a vital insight considering that revolutionary and huge innovation breakthroughs are rare. Organizational managers should have strong listening systems, which can help to capitalize on the most ideal ideas or employees’ micro-innovations since only such will have the largest impact upon one’s business. Apple Computer’s leaders clearly understand the essence of innovation in promoting their business. The company invests heavily in research and development in their efforts to promote innovation through discovering opportunities that require new ideas. Apple has always been shifting their innovation gear intending to produce more and more new products plus ideas on how to improve their current products. The development of new computer products like Mac Mini, iMac and iPod, plus others has made Apple Computer among the most popular high-tech companies worldwide. Indeed, the company hires talented people that have passion in producing the best things globally and their employees are very hard-working and highly value the products they produce. The products are both hardware and software, which are the greatest innovations worldwide (Pottruck, n.d).
Brainstorming can also help in promoting an innovative/creative culture in an organization. However, the brainstorming process must be guided by some ground rules as well as follow-ups to ensure useful results. The process requires a systematic, structured and result-based strategy to generate new ideas or solutions that are worthwhile. Companies that aspire to promote an innovative culture should provide rules that ensure new ideas are not criticized in a brainstorming setting. All ideas whether workable or not should be discussed and recorded because all world innovations developed from such ideas. The brainstorming technique should focus on the quantity of ideas rather than quality (Forster, 2013).
Moreover, brainstorming works best because it promotes diverse thinking through deriving ideas from all directions and from different perspectives. Organizations, for instance, can create teams whose members should have diverse technical skills, personalities and competencies. Companies should give their staff freedom, space and time to think freely to produce new ideas. After brainstorming the new ideas, companies should capture and retain the ideas even when their immediate applicability is not clear (Forster, 2013). Through the whole process, negative thinking and attitudes that can discourage innovative thinking has to be shunned. Furthermore, new ideas cannot survive under negative attitudes. At Apple, brainstorming is among the major strategies the company employs to generate and discuss new ideas. The company’s culture involves conducting ad hoc or impromptu meetings comprising of six people. Such meetings are called upon by an individual or any employee that thinks he/she has discovered the most innovative idea and wish to discuss it with the group to get their opinions concerning the same. The innovative spirit within Apple encourages brainstorming practices among all the company’s staff especially the inspiration of the CEO (Pottruck, n.d). Team members love sharing new ideas with their co-workers to find solutions to problems being faced by the company. The senior management, therefore, has played a key role in encouraging brainstorming behaviors as a way of fostering innovation while also building an obsessive culture that has remained both enigmatic and inspirational. The tremendous/remarkable teamwork at the senior management level filters down teamwork throughout the company. Apple assigns a number of teams/groups to work on a particular project, where each team competes to develop something new that is very innovative. Apple meetings have been unique because the company allows anyone to speak out and brainstorm anything that crosses the mind.
Build Entrepreneurship and Innovation into the Company’s Culture
According to Forster (2013), developing an innovative and creative culture also requires a company to build their innovation into their corporate culture as well as in the management practices. Without granting talented employees the freedom to innovate or encourage their ideas, such persons may switch to competitors with such ideas or establish their own businesses. Apple has acknowledged this potential among their talented staffs. The company gives their employees the freedom to innovate while also integrating the innovative behaviors within their operating culture. In fact, Apple Computers has been named among the leading innovative companies globally (Pottruck, n.d). The company’s lengthy reputation as a highly innovative organization has played a critical role in their market competitiveness. Apple highly discourages self-satisfaction and complacency. In spite of their business excellence and profitability, the company has been devoted in seeking new ways of making money and creating new products and innovations. The company encourages people across all organizational levels to submit their suggestions and ideas.
Based on Apple’s case, it is evident that creating innovative cultures in organizations require substantial investments of resources and time on employees. After recruiting the appropriate persons, a company must avail the most suitable culture, incentives and environment that can promote innovation across the entire workforce. Individual companies have to learn to embrace even the bizarre ideas and maximize on employees creativity. Organizations also must invest in the most recent creative software while also fostering cross-functional communication and dialogue. Supporting and rewarding innovation is similarly a great step towards boosting an innovative culture within a firm (Forster, 2013). Customers can also be a very good resource in promoting an innovative culture of a company. In this case, an organization can generate new ideas from their customers while at the same time networking with other companies. Indeed, business organization must learn how to maintain a competitive edge in terms of generating new ideas that can impact on their market position.
Forster (2013) stated the following:
For larger and more complex companies, who may not be able to innovate as quickly as their smaller, nimbler competitors, systems have to be put in place to disseminate new ideas quickly. Company wide gatherings, cross-functional teams, formal brainstorming sessions, job placements and formal two-way and cross-functional communication systems can all help with this. This might also require a more systemic approach to storing new ideas, knowledge and intellectual capital on easily accessible data and web-bases. In many companies, research centers have been long-established as key drivers of innovative ideas, products and services. (p.355).
Apple develops a creative and innovative culture beginning from the top (managerial levels). In this company, innovation is managed effectively through collaboration, corporate culture and committed leadership. Apple’s motto, ‘think different’ motivates all organizational members to be innovative. The company also recognizes, motivates and protects all innovators within the organization. Similarly, innovators are rewarded in monetary or recognition terms. Indeed, the company has made huge investments of resources into innovation to promote creativity (Pottruck, n.d).
Ensure Constant Communication across the Organization
Most cutting-edge firms create work environments that inspire employee interactions plus a free ideas flow. In such companies, employees meet regularly to interact and discuss their ideas with their co-workers. Apple Company does this in a highly conscious manner mainly because they know such an atmosphere foster’s innovation and creativity. Enhancing a company’s innovative capacity implies a key company commitment towards a multi-channel systemic communication (Forster, 2013). Attaining and retaining an active learning and innovative practices demands for information sharing plus open communication. Businesses that aspire to foster learning and innovation must increasingly and actively listen to their young employees. This category may further include individuals that interact closely with the customers plus all fresh employees because they come with fresh minds that can devise very productive ideas.
Constant communication is one common practice that has promoted innovation at Apple Company. The practice was advanced by the company’s CEO (Steve Jobs) in efforts of developing a more innovative company. The CEO developed a strong communication and collaboration culture that cut across the entire workforce regardless of the rank (top to bottom). Executive staff sessions are held every Monday and an all day strategy sessions on Wednesday plus endless session for product review (Pottruck, n.d). All the newly developed ideas or products are passed across various departments including marketing, distribution and engineering, amidst others until they satisfy the established standards. Apple’s senior management was always open to newly developed ideas regardless of the origin. The creative spirit within Apple Company is outstanding throughout the company’s headquarter (Carlifonia).
Innovation at the company generates from individuals meeting up within the hallways or making calls to one another even late night to share a new idea/new ideas. The company’s employees are always aggressive in seeking new solutions to problems being faced at the business. Apple conducts impromptu meetings of six individuals gathered by another individual who thinks he/she has discovered the most innovative thing ever and desires to know what the colleagues think. Such behaviors indicate the high level of openness and flexibility among the company staffs to be creative as well as innovative. The company’s CEO similarly contributes greatly towards the organization’s innovative spirit whenever there is an opportunity. The CEO spends a considerable time in sharing new ideas with the company’s OS X team as well as with the team in-charge of the iLife applications (Pottruck, n.d).
Training Employees to be Creative
Some skills developed by employees for improved creativity can be enhanced through training. Generally, training individuals for more creativity follows three major steps. To begin with, training starts by promoting openness towards new ideas (Forster, 2013). Most good ideas are never developed because they divert from the present way of doing things. Increasing one’s creativity requires an individual to open up to new ideas or even go beyond the ordinary thing. Some organizations promote openness through sending their staffs on thinking expeditions, which are trips whose design places people in challenging circumstances to enable them think differently or become more innovative.
Secondly, a company should take time in understanding the problem. Significant ideas seldom come to people that do not completely understand the problem being faced. However, taking considerable time to evaluate the different facets of an issue can enable a person to develop creative solutions (O’Reilly & Tushman, 1997). Lastly, companies should promote diversity in thinking. Divergent thinking includes considering new approaches in solving old problems. Therefore, an organization can decide to teach people or employees different tactics in relation to divergent thinking to give room for problems to incubate and then set the stage to facilitate the development of new creative ideas. For instance, a morphological assessment of a problem entails the identification of basic elements and blending the elements in different ways systematically (Forster, 2013).
However, trainings at Apple follow a unique approach in the company’s pursuit for increased innovation. The company similarly exposes employees to new challenges to motivate them to be creative. Such challenges inspire and instill a fresh spirit for innovation. Employees are often pro-active and curious concerning the future and are always ready to learn new things that make their lives so thrilling and exciting. For this reason, Apple does not necessarily provide learning and training program but allows employees to learn things by themselves through the challenges/problems they encounter everyday at their workplace. Employees are allowed to develop themselves without the ordinary development programs. Therefore, Apple employs that approach to train their employees to be innovative and creative (Pottruck, n.d).
Building a Creative Work Atmosphere
Every organization that wishes to create an innovative and creative culture should take concrete steps in transforming the working environment in a way that promotes creativity. One key way an organization can do this is through providing autonomy. Notably, people tend to be particularly creative when given liberty of controlling their individual behaviors. In this case, autonomy empowers employees to make decisions. Similarly, it is important for organizations to expose employees to their creative counterparts or co-workers (Pottruck, n.d). Moreover, workers are more likely to develop creative abilities when surrounded by other innovative/creative individuals. Employees surrounded by creative individuals get an inspiration to become creative as well since they can learn the relevant skills from creative people. The possibility of developing creative abilities depends on the degree of supervision such a person experiences from his/her supervisor (i.e. high supervision-low creativity). This means that employees who feel that their bosses are constantly watching, evaluating and controlling them tend to be reluctant in tapping creative opportunities due to fear of failure.
For this reason, such individuals have a tendency of playing safe simply through imitating what is being done by others. Employees that are not monitored closely by their bosses tend to be increasingly willing to experiment new ideas, thus enjoying the benefits of working at close range with creative colleagues. A creative working environment similarly allows cross-pollination of ideas (O’Reilly & Tushman, 1997). Individuals working solely on one project suffer great risks of becoming stale while people that work on various projects will most probably meet different people thereby having an opportunity to apply one idea generated from a previous project. Organizations should also commit in making jobs interesting because people tend to be more creative when they enjoy their work. Pottruck (n.d) observed that companies, therefore, can promote creativity by improving the level at which tasks are interesting by making it fun. Such a culture allows individuals to be themselves, take risks and have fun, thereby unleashing their creativity. It is similarly important to set personal creative goals. Freedom of making individual decisions generates huge benefits especially when people develop individual creative goals.
Additionally, having fun also creates a good environment for creativity. An incentive is vital whenever an organization desires to build a good environment for creativity. Most companies today, therefore, are promoting creative thinking through offering opportunities for employees to have fun when carrying out their tasks. Diversity is also a key ingredient of an attractive work atmosphere that can boost creativity and innovation. For this reason, companies should also be committed in promoting diversity in their organizations (O’Reilly & Tushman, 1997). Whenever firms have a diverse workforce in terms of factors like ethnic background or cultural groups, their way of thinking concerning various situations within a company similarly differs. Such differences are critical because divergent thinking is considered a key component of creativity. Thus, organizations that have ethnically different workforce tend to have corporate cultures that permit creativity to flourish. The majority of today’s successful multinational firms attribute their excellence to the adjustments made in efforts to streamline harmonious working together among diverse people, an activity that helps in boosting creativity. Apple Computer highly promotes diversity within their workforce. The company uses this strategy to boost their innovation ability because they believe that a workforce from diverse backgrounds think differently. Therefore, diversity at the company is intended to develop new ideas and interpretations (Pottruck, n.d).
Further, companies should support creativity at high levels of an organization. Top executives, supervisors and team leaders must motivate workers to take up risks to develop opportunities for creativity including accepting failure. Apple’s innovative culture has been highly promoted by the company’s senior management. Steve Jobs was at the forefront of making Apple the pioneer of creativity and innovation for many years. The senior management’s commitment towards innovation has made Apple’s hardware and software engineers provide a wealth of innovation, talent and creativity to their jobs. Their individual creativity has made the company very effective in developing new exciting products. Apple’s CEO has always demonstrated an infectious enthusiasm and willingness of making the most innovative products. Apple fosters innovation in its business processes, products, customer satisfaction, business models and leadership. Apple’s culture plus their eminent customers, employees and partners are the key drivers of innovation at the company. Such behaviors have contributed greatly towards the business growth through grabbing every opportunity accessible. The company believes they always have to meet their customers’ needs by providing revolutionary products. Apple creates new products that are difficult to imitate thus increasing their competitiveness at great levels. The firm operates under the motto, ‘think different’, which motivates all the workers at the company to be innovative (Pottruck, n.d).
The above discussion has analyzed the important roles that creativity and innovation has always played in the development and success of businesses. Creativity and innovation plays a vital role in businesses including influencing their long-term success, gaining a competitive edge and competitive advantages, influencing the bottom-line profitability and performance as well as increasing a company’s ability to manage environmental changes in the market. The discussion has used the Apple’s case to demonstrate how companies can build or develop working cultures that promote continuous creativity, evolution and innovation. Among the named ways that Apple uses to promote a workplace culture that promotes innovation are having a creative work atmosphere, hiring talented persons, constant communication and brainstorming, among others.
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