During my Second Year of University, I secured a Placement position in East Yorkshire called Shepcote. A task I was given was to revamp the company website from scratch due to it being outdated. The creative experience that will be discussed through this report will be when a group of photographers came onto site for a day to take photographs that will be used for the new website. It was my job to accompany the photographers and ensure enough photographs were taken and to delegate people to the correct positions for photographs throughout the day, that products were both available and to select the correct products for the photoshoot. I was given complete freedom by all managers to make this project my own, including making all major decisions, apart from financial ones, and to make sure that the website was to the best standard possible. The creative freedom allowed by my managers did ensure that this task was down to my individual creative interpretation and process.
2. ANALYSIS OF CREATIVITY
2.1 What is creativity
Creativity is used to refer to the act of producing new ideas, approaches or actions (Davis & Rimm, 2004; Horowitz & O’Brien, 1985; Piirto, 1998; Sternberg, 1999. Studies have argued whether Creativity is either based off personal intelligence or down to the individuals brain, which will be discussed later in the paper. Inventors, Scientists and Artists mention that their creativity comes from their intuition, but they can never explain how it works (Boden, 1996). Glück, Ernst and Unger (2002) state that the meaning behind creativity may be different for people in their work as different lines of work require people to be creative in different ways.
Also, comparing the concept of innovation, would firstly mean accepting that there can be no innovation without creativity (Sarooghi, Libaers and Burkemper, 2015). As creativity involves the generation of novel and useful ideas, whilst innovation entails the implementation of these ideas into new products and processes (Sarooghi, Libaers and Burkemper, 2015).
During my creative experience, I was responsible for arranging both staff and products for the photography session. I created new ideas for product placement, group & individual photographs which would be edited and then placed onto the website. The aim was to create an attractive website and this process showcase both creative and innovative qualities.
2.2 Sources of Creativity
Hall (1991) proposes that there are five categories of creative sources: Grace, Accident, Association, Cognitive and Personality. The concept ‘Accident’ and ‘Personality’ certainly had parts to play in my creative experience as many of the individual and group photographs used for the website were unplanned, and individuals simply ‘being themselves’ made the photographs more creative. Once I realized that combining Divergent thinking in a professional work setting could potentially create better photographs, by removing the current environments constraints (Bilton C, 2006), I encouraged people to relax and bring out their personality in some of the photography resulting in professional but fun photographs.
In addition to this Unsworth (2001) described 4 types of creative types, illustrated by Figure 1. In respect to this figure, my creative experience can be explained as ‘Proactive Creativity’ which occurs when individuals, driven by internal motivators, actively search for problems to solve (Unsworth 2001). I was driven by wanting to impress other members of staff that I could take on the responsibility of the photographers and arranging the day for everyone involved. Before the day arrived, I ensured all members of staff knew the time schedule and their roles through the day to eradicate any confusion. Research suggests that a proactive personality increases individual creativity by influencing the environment and effects constructive changes (Fuller & Marler, 2009; Bateman & Crant, 1993).
Figure 1 – Matrix of Creative Types – Unsworth (2001)
2.3 The Creative Process
Previously, Wallas (1926) described the creative process containing four stages: Preparation, Incubation, Illumination and Verification. As time continued, this model was criticized due to it implying that the creative process is subconscious and cannot be taught or directed. Also, several authors have suggested that it is important to distinguish a problem-finding or problem-formulation phase in which relevant information is gathered and preliminary ideas are advanced (Amabile, 1996; Getzels & Csikszentmihalyi, 1976; Osborn, 1953). Problem finding involves recognizing that a problem exists, finding gaps, inconsistencies, or flaws with the current state of the art (Lubart, 2001, p.297).
More recent models have now incorporated further stages into the creative process such as Innovation Opportunity and Divergence, highlighted by Amabile (1996), Getzels & Csikszentmihalyi (1976) and Osborn (1953), and Convergence illustrated in figure 2. In Figure 3 I will compare the new creative process into my Creative Experience.
Figure 2 – Creative Process Then vs Now
Figure 3 – Adapted from Hesselbein and Johnston (2002) – My Personal creative experience
2.4 Creative Models
Ahmed and Shepherd (2010, p. 52) state that ‘without a doubt’ the centerpiece in the puzzle of creativity are people. So, it is essential for us to understand creativity at an individual level, which will be done firstly by analyzing Amabile’s (1983) Componential Model of Creativity. This model suggests that creativity at an individual level includes three ‘within-individual’ components being; domain-relevant skills (expertise in the relevant domain or domains), creativity-relevant processes (cognitive and personality processes), and task motivation (specifically, the intrinsic motivation to engage in the activity) (Amabile, 2012, p.3). In Figure 4 I will analyze this model by comparing it to my personal creative experience.
Figure 4: My Creative Experience – Amabile (1988) Componential Model
Secondly, I will consider the physiological explanation of individual creativity, which focuses more on an individual’s brain than individual’s intelligence. This is sometimes referred to as Personality/Attribute theory (Pervin and John, 1999; Kasof, 1995) The essence of this theory can be illustrated in Figure 3 where different parts of the brain are associated with different thinking modes (Ahmed and Shepherd 2010, p.54).
Figure:5 Left Brain/Right Brain influences on Creativity – Ahmed and Shepherd (2010)
The illustration portrays that the left side of the brain is primarily more Convergent thinking (Accurate, logical, leaves no room for ambiguity) whereas the right side of the brain is primarily more Divergent thinking (more spontaneous, produces multiple answers to questions, makes unexpected combinations) (Cropley, 2006, p.391). During my creative experience a combination of both Convergent and Divergent thinking can be seen throughout. I created a schedule for the day to show to both management, staff and photographers which used analytical, rational and imaginative skills, using more left than right side of the brain in this case. Whereas creating photographs with both people and company resources used more imaginative, spontaneous, propositional skills, using more of my right than left side of my brain.
2.5 Creative tools & Techniques
De Bono (1995) argued that Creativity is not a mystery or a gift, but is a skill that can be learned and applied. Creative tools have been produced to help the quality output, which can be applied to either the individual or group scenario.
I will firstly consider Edward de Bono (1970) six hat system which is used to help tap into different aspects of our brain. The ‘six hats’ are metaphorical hats which a person can put on or take off indicating a type of thinking that is being used. This is illustrated Figure 6.
To summarise Figure 6, the White hat focuses on factual information, the Green hat focuses on new creative possibilities, the Black hat symbolizes critical thinking, the Red hat looks into hunches and what people ‘feel’, the Yellow hat is a benefit analysis and focuses on the positives and finally, the Blue hat is the general observer of the six-hat thinking system, ensuring all hats have been used. During my creative experience the following hats were used:
White – We needed professional photographs to use on the website. The shoot was one day, and I had planned who was going to be in what photographs to be efficient on the day. All the things needed from the photographer were communicated before the event, so I knew of all the immediate facts.
Green – I used lateral thinking to create new ideas as this is a process of creativity (de Bono, 2010). I understood how we currently promote our staff and services and thought of new innovative ideas to further promote and advertise them through our photographs. Using new ‘action shots’ to promote our services and new profile shots for staff.
Black & Red – I understood that certain staff may not want to be in photographs and that some products may be photographed subject to availability. Another limitation was whether for some group shots and seeing if customers wanted their product being photographed to be promoted for our website.
I did not consider all of the hats in this creative process and if I were to include Yellow and Blue, I could’ve considered what other benefits this photography session could have brought the company and that I have thought of all of the ‘hat scenarios’ during my creative process which could have created a better creative output.
Figure 6: The Six Thinking Hat Method, Edward de Bono (1970)
During the photoshoot, there were many moments of group brainstorming between myself and the photographers regarding ideas for product/people placement. This approach was adapted into the SCAMPER creative thinking technique, which is a checklist of idea-spurring questions (Michalko, 2010) adapted into an acronym. Figure 7 explains the acronym of SCAMPER and I will then analyse the key parts of the acronym that directly link to my experience.
Combine – This question allows you to think of ideas that you can combine to create a better product. The photographer during their visit mentioned they wanted to bring out a bright and professional look over the company which I accepted and wanted to adapt into the session. I also wanted to get some professional profile shots of the main management team in the office to advertise who they were and their roles onto the company website. We combined these ideas by taking all profile shots outside of the building with a bright and colourful backdrop to create bright and professional profile shots for management, which my managers appreciated and accepted.
Magnify – This question allows you to assess the current product/services you have and decide whether you want to change them in any way to maximise its potential. A company goal agreed on at the start of the creative process was to advertise all services which were not currently being advertised on any platforms. I made sure the photographers captured every business activity which I could then advertise on our website and social media pages.
Eliminate – This question makes you think of what can be taken away from a product to better enhance it. During our photography session we agreed to strip all products of its packaging, to make it more attractive in the final pictures.
When I presented the final photographs to management I also explained the ideas behind them. I did this, so I could gain approval and feedback of ideas and that typically people are better at choosing an idea/ solution from an array of ideas/solutions than they are of developing creative solutions to a particular problem by themselves (Santanen, Briggs and de Vreede, 2000, pp.1).
Figure 7: SCAMPER – A Creative Thinking Technique
The SCAMPER Creative Thinking Technique cannot be seen throughout my Creative experience and if it was applied throughout then I believe I could’ve thought of multiple new ideas on promotional pictures to use on our website and social media. According to researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the human brain can process entire images in as little as 13 milliseconds and Images have the power to connect with people instantly and emotionally (Ellis, 2017).
3. CREATIVITY IN ORGANISATIONS
3.1 Importance of Creativity to a Business
McLean (2005) suggests that creativity in business supports the quality of life for every person. He also states that ‘Creativity, as expressed and brought to life through organizations, plays a critical role in society’ (Mclean, 2005, p.226), which considers the external view of the importance of Creativity to a business. But the ability of businesses to develop successful creative innovations, which management practices can likely enhance, whether in the form or products, services, or the processes that create them, has become increasingly essential to the competitive advantage and long-term performance which is more of an internal view of importance to Creativity to a business (Mumford, 2000; Hitt, Ireland & Lee, 2000).
Previously in the report I stated that the three components that contribute to creativity are Expertise, Creative thinking skills & Motivation in the componential model (Amabile, 1983). Figure 8 describes that the componential model feeds into the innovation of a business, again, being affected by 3 factors: Resources, Management practices and Organisational Motivation. This also shows that without Creativity, there can be no Innovation (Sarooghi, Libaers and Burkemper, 2015). It is crucial for organisations to understand that the working environment affects individual/team creativity. During my creative experience, I was allowed complete freedom during this task. Whereas if I had a supervisor or had been placed in a team I would have been restricted with my creative output, which would affect the final product.
Figure 8: Impact of the Organizational Environment on Creativity (Amabile 1996)
3.2 How can businesses understand, encourage/kill & manage creativity?
For business to firstly understand creativity, they must have strong leaders to help promote it. Leadership is about articulating visions, embodying values and creating the environment within which things can be accomplished (Richards & Engle, 1986, p.206). It is also about creating the right innovation culture where leaders inspire the creative potential of all employees (Leavy, 2005, p.38). To understand how businesses can either encourage/kill creativity, I will consider 3 of the 6 general categories of managerial practice that can affect creativity both positively and negatively: Challenge, Freedom, Resources, Work-group features, Supervisory encouragement, Organisational support (Amabile, 1998). I will only analyse 3 of these categories with references to real life business examples as I believe these are the most relevant.
This category refers to allowing people to make their own decisions. Amabile (1998) discusses that managers need to understand that their inclusion into discussions will not entirely enhance creative output, and can sometimes hinder it. In addition to this, allowing freedom for employees will increase their intrinsic motivation, especially in challenging tasks (Amabile 1998). Adobe currently promote a positive corporate culture by avoiding micromanagement of their employees and allowing total creative freedom. They trust their employees and managers support their ambitious challenges throughout the process (Marmol, 2016).
Amabile states that encouragement from the organisation certainly fosters creativity, but it is truly enhanced when the entire organisation supports it. Which can be done by information sharing and collaboration, which both support creativity and supports creative thinking (Amabile, 1998). Hyatt Hotels focuses on employee development and promoting and focus on empowering their employees (Flint and Hearn, 2015). All employees are called ‘associates’ and are encouraged to listen to each other and guests to create new solutions to problems rather than from a script. This has created an intrinsic motivation for employees, which has resulted in Hyatt having a high employee retention in a high employee turnover market (Flint and Hearn, 2015).
The two main resources that businesses use that affect creativity are time and money (Amabile, 1998). It is essential that when deciding what team members will be involved in a project, along with the budget and time given to complete the project, that businesses can either support or kill creativity in this process (Amabile, 1998). Facebook devote part of its resources to supporting Creativity, for example: open working environments, stock options and laundry services (Marmol, 2016). They understand that this will encourage better communication among staff and encourage growth and personal learning (Marmol, 2016).
Creativity is an extremely diverse and complex idea to truly understand. It can be looked at from a Cognitive or Psychological level with numerous studies supporting both sides. To many people, creativity means different things compared to others (Glück, Ernst and Unger, 2002). Creative tools and techniques are extremely valuable when analysing creativity at both an individual and group level.
It is essential for business to firstly understand the process from creativity to innovation, illustrated through Figure 6 as it emphasises creativity feeds innovation (Amabile 1996). They must also appreciate that the individual is the centrepiece to Creativity (Ahmed and Shepherd, 2002, p. 52) and businesses must learn to harness creativity through their employees as it affects both internal and external factors (McLean, 2005; Mumford, 2000; Hitt, Ireland & Lee, 2000). Furthermore, Organisations should learn that creative people thrive in creative environments, organisations must strive to ensure that their environment is as nurturing as possible towards enhancing the resident creative collateral (Flynn et al., 2003)
Organisations should be able to utilise their creativity in their employees and learn how to manage it through prior analysis performed in this report. They should also appreciate that unlike users of products/services, the professionals in organisations should be able to utilise creative techniques listed previously to come up with truly novel and promising ideas that might be appealing to broader parts of the market and might therefore lead to successful new products (Ulrich, 2007; Ulrich and Eppinger, 2008).
Another approach to fostering creativity is the opposite of the above analysis. Creating a network between consumer and organisation collaboratively can result in innovative success, which is sometimes called Opportunity Identification or Idea Generation, where the organisation interacts with its potential customers in the form of surveys and focus groups (Flynn et al., 2003). An example of this is Disney created ‘kid-centric’ focus groups where they went to numerous local schools to interview children regarding new Disney characters for upcoming productions. The most recent result of this is the recent ‘Sofia the First’ animated tv series being produced (Frei, 2017).