I have often heard it said that the company which stands still, dies. This is true for all organisations and for us as individuals. Life is about evolving and adapting to change but for many, it is actually about driving change.
There is no doubt that creativity and innovation are primary sources of competitive advantage. As William Pollard once said,” What you did yesterday will not be sufficient for tomorrow”. Both creativity and innovation lead to higher overall success because they can create more value. Both are connected and mutually dependent.
Creativity is about exploiting the potential of the mind; it is about thinking in new ways and interpreting the world from different perspectives. Creative people are flexible and driven from within. They are usually passionate about what they do. Creative people are disruptive insofar as they are consistently focusing on improvement and their creative mindset drives their efforts.
A creative mindset can look at the world differently and interpret it differently. Creativity is essential for innovation because both are about creating novel solutions to problems or challenges and both require thinking outside the box. An innovative mindset requires a person to be open-minded, receptive, organised, productive, and results-driven.
Innovation is about changing systems, processes, structures. It can be about developing new products or services which can give a competitive edge and sustain business viability. Innovation requires agility and needs creative people to make connections, generate solutions or new opportunities.
Entrepreneurs, by their nature, are innovators with strong creative instincts and aptitude. This is why so many of the best leaders are innovators-they lead change. A good leader should be the catalyst for creating an innovative environment and this is particularly important for any competitive sector such as business, sport, and politics. Innovative leaders take risks and do not let the fear of failure paralyse their drive to lead change or seek innovative solutions to problems.
Creativity and innovation are important for business success in the medium to long term. The World Economic Forum has indicated that around 85% of productivity gain arises from investment in innovation. Indeed, the disruptive nature of digitalisation has established a new paradigm around change, which is fueled by the current rate of technological innovations which are driving change at unprecedented speed.
Creativity in business needs to be planned and managed. Innovation is the manifestation of creativity in business and real innovation can transform the way we live and work. It can be incremental or radical but innovation is always an essential part of evolution and survival.
Leaders, therefore, must always seek to promote an innovative culture. It is creative leaders who drive innovation by being the champions of change. Creative leaders know that successful innovation requires a creative workforce. Creativity inspires collective thinking and open minds so leadership teams should be encouraged and empowered to experiment and innovate. They must know that mistakes and failures are part of experimentation and a necessary part of the innovative process: they are integral to the learning process. Many innovations are the result of prior learning from failures.
Disruptive technology companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon understand that from failure comes eventual success because failure encourages further adaption and innovation. Because we all have an anti-failure bias we tend to avoid failure but this should not be at the expense of experimentation and innovation. Innovative mindsets can accommodate failures because they teach us to modify and adapt. Failures are a necessary part of the innovative process.
Lack of innovation has led to many high-profile failures in the commercial world. Kodak, a leader in photographic film for much of the twentieth century, did not adapt to the disruptive impact of digital technology and collapsed in 2012. Nokia was once the global leader in mobile phones but didn’t adapt quickly enough to the smartphone with its added multi-functioning data software. When they did decide to compete it was too late as they had lost their competitive edge and surrendered their market-leading position in 2013 (it still exists with a vastly diminished market share).
Lack of innovative leadership sits at the heart of under-performing entities. Innovative leaders need to have sustainable, innovative ideas around which they can motivate people to turn ideas into reality. Creativity, motivation, innovation, and inspiration are critical elements of success. Innovative leaders are trusted and their vision of the future must inspire others to follow and act to support that vision. Good communication skills are essential for building that support and for setting out the parameters of the necessary innovative strategy.
In the business world, the stark message is always to innovate or die. Innovation demands an innovative, risk-taking mindset. As the innovation economy is changing rapidly, organisations need to develop and embrace open innovation as a way of life or become innovation laggards. The world is one of constant change like a moving escalator where competitors strive to get and remain upfront, to remain relevant, and to maintain competitive advantage.
Creativity fosters a successful and healthy working environment that promotes innovation, change and opens up new opportunities. Creativity is all about imagination and innovation is about implementation. New ideas, which can disrupt the status quo, are successfully implemented and thereby assist the entity to keep pace with change and exploit new opportunities. Creativity and innovation are essential for survival and continued success. There’s a way to do it better, find it- Thomas Edison.
( Feature photo; My Life Through A Lens; Unsplash.)