It’s interesting that creativity and originality are rarely mentioned in job ads. However, if you have a job or are pursuing a career, whether in business or the arts, creativity and originality will be indispensable to your success. It’s also worth noting that employers are increasingly citing creativity when asked what they value in their employees. It’s not just the preserve of designers!
Creativity vs Originality
Creativity is the ability to use imagination to come up with a useful and novel idea or product, while originality is the quality of being original or novel.
Originality implies being bold enough to go beyond accepted norms.Anthony Storr
Thus, creativity is the ability to produce, and originality refers to the content of the result.
It’s important to understand this distinction because.
- originality isn’t sufficient to ensure creativity, and
- creativity isn’t sufficient to ensure originality.
Creative Original Ideas Are Worth More
Original, creative ideas are worth much more than simply original ideas.
Creativity means developing multiple alternatives in search of a solution. An original idea in a new context is a good example.
Creativity is a process, a way of working. A creative process starts from a problem and usually leads to a number of different possible solutions.
Originality is about what’s produced and whether it is novel.
It must be said that originality is only one component of creativity. Intelligence, independence, risk-taking, imagination, and many other elements are associated with creativity.
However, this doesn’t mean that these elements taken together are synonymous with creativity!
Do I Have to be Creative and Original?
While I wouldn’t go so far as to say that creativity and originality are prerequisites for success, they do act as force multipliers in all phases of ventures.
Success is often associated with differentiation. In a crowded market, as most markets are, it’s extremely important to establish the difference between your product and that of your competitors in the minds of your potential customers.
If you don’t, success will likely prove elusive.
Whether as an employee or as an employer, if creativity and originality are lacking, things are likely to move more slowly and the end results are unlikely to be as good as they’d have been if creativity and originality had been applied to the tasks at hand.
There are some tasks that need to be memorized and where creativity and originality get in the way. By and large, these are low-difficulty tasks – the kind of tasks that will eventually be done entirely by machines.
A competitive advantage in business and in creative/artistic work comes when creativity and originality are brought into play, used judiciously, and valued as part of an ongoing process.
In short, creativity and originality used deliberately in the best professions and businesses ensure that you stand out from the rest.
Why Apple Stood Out
What made Apple one of the world’s leading companies wasn’t outstanding technical intelligence – although the company certainly has it.
What made the difference was magical design, coupled with an artistic esthetic that went into the products and their marketing.
The creative ideas that lead to success don’t have to come from extraordinarily talented people. They can come from anyone. Often, it’s just as important to recognize them (and a creative thinker!) when they come!
Smart leaders should strive to develop creativity and originality in their own actions and communications. This not only leads to more effective results but also serves as a role model for your subordinates to engage in creative work.
True originality consists not in a new manner but in a new vision.Edith Wharton
Good leaders are aware of the value of individual creativity and originality in their organization. They’ll try to encourage it and put systems in place to ensure that the truly brilliant things don’t get lost while making sure that employees aren’t afraid to take reasonable risks and find a new way to do things.
This is what creative leadership means.
Setting Creative Frameworks
Setting the right framework is one of the hallmarks of a truly world-class leader. Giving employees a set of rules invites failure. So if you want to succeed with creativity and originality, you’ve to be willing to think outside the box.
Two important questions you should ask yourself are:
- Do creativity skills give my company a competitive advantage?
- Are we fostering a supportive and creative atmosphere for the organization’s employees?
If the answer to both questions is “yes”, you’re probably on the right track!
Conversely, the experience of working in an organization where other values prevail is bleak and depressing. Believe me, I’ve experienced it myself. Even in big, blue-chip companies.
Complexity and Creativity
The increasing complexity of business, even as AI systems become more prevalent, means that creative and original ways to find solutions that work for both humans and machines become important.
It’s worth paying attention to this now before the future overtakes you!
It’s important to understand and be aware of the difference between ideation and innovation and the processes involved.
If you work in an organization or team, the first people you should keep in mind are those who have the talent and energy to make it happen. Those who can be counted on to turn the creative ideas that come their way into viable and sustainable innovations.
Ideas Need to Be Realized
If you’re working as a creative person, remember that ideas are always in demand; but they’re only real assets if you’re able to mobilize enough resources to ensure they’re successful. It’s all about making decisions.
Creativity and originality can also help with implementation.
A flood of creative ideas is of no use if some of them aren’t successfully implemented. Your job – whether as a creative or as a leader encouraging and guiding them – is to develop a process for identifying and then implementing the best creative ideas.
Implementation will help you beat your competitors!
How to Foster Innovation
One thing to consider is encouraging your colleagues to actually implement ideas. You can do this by creating an “implementation manager” position – either full-time or part-time. This person would ensure that the best creative ideas are implemented. This would include developing and overseeing a process to make this happen.
Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.Edward de Bono
Another idea would be a special award for the person who implemented a creative idea. Again, small rewards can be more effective than large ones.
In my experience, prizes that involve everyone equally are more effective, especially if the prize is a day off!
In other cases, it’s appropriate to bring in a designer to help implement an idea that may have come from the staff.
Always remember that it’s people who make ideas happen – ideas alone are empty vessels just waiting for someone to pick them up!
Innovation is where human creativity meets implementation! Creative outcomes are what matters. Getting there requires skill and fortitude.
Creative Skills That Matter
Fostering creativity and originality in the workplace or organization means fostering divergent thinking, critical thinking, and creative thinking skills.
It means creating an environment where employees feel they’re capable of finding non-obvious and unusual solutions to problems. This is a key difference between creativity and problem-solving.
In some organizations, there’s a selection process for creative ideas. In the best organizations, ideas are widely distributed, and everyone has the opportunity to vote for what they think is the best idea.
Some organizations offer a workshop to discuss the ideas. Others write a report outlining the pros and cons of each idea and disseminate it widely.
This is a good way to get the best ideas to the top.
Simply hiring or promoting people with high IQs doesn’t automatically lead to creativity.
Creativity isn’t the ability to produce new ideas, but the ability to come up with ideas that aren’t obvious.
It’s not about IQ.
Encouraging Creativity and Originality in Students
In an ideal world, creativity and originality would be fostered long before people enter a job or profession.
As Sir Ken Robinson said in his famous TED talk, it comes down to fostering creativity and originality in schools and among college students as much as possible.
One way to do this is to stimulate students with creative essay topics designed to generate original thinking and new ideas.
When you’re making anime, if you get all of your inspiration from anime… it’s going to lack originality and creativity, so I try to get my inspiration from different genres.Shinichiro Watanabe
The more students can believe in and trust their creative potential, the better. Especially in a world where such creative skills are valued.
Students need to be shown that acquiring knowledge isn’t enough to be successful. It’s the application of knowledge in a creative way that will make a difference in their future.
Whenever a student has the opportunity to make cross-connections between a topic and an adjacent topic and engage in lateral thinking, this should be encouraged. The best ideas often come from the intersection of things!