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Creativity is the act of turning new, imaginative ideas into realities. It is a way to see things from new perspectives, to find patterns and connections between seemingly different things. If you have ideas and do not act on them, then you are imaginative not creative. But is possible to be creative in business?

According to Robert Sternberg,  “A product is creative when it is (a) novel and (b) appropriate. A novel product is original not predictable. The bigger the concept, and the more the product stimulates further work and ideas, the more the product is creative.” To deliver creative products, you must be willing to take risks, move through the discomfort zone, iterate, and learn from failures.

There are those that believe creativity has nothing to do with innovation. They say innovation is a discipline, suggesting that creativity is not. I disagree. Creativity is also a discipline and an important part of innovation. There is no innovation without creativity. And creativity and innovation share a key metric: value creation.

As products and services become more complex, we need creatives to lead the new waves of innovation and product development. These innovations can be in services, consumer products or corporate culture.  This will create the flexibility and speed needed to excel in the future.

And investing in creativity does pay for itself. Accord to Morrison, 1997 — Cited in 101 Activities for Teaching Creativity and Problem Solving, by Arthur VanGundy:

  • The Wall Street Journal reported that a two-year in-house creativity course at General Electric resulted in a 60% increase in patentable concepts.
  • Participants in Pittsburgh Plate Glass creativity training showed a 300% increase in viable ideas compared with those who elected not to take the course.
  • At Sylvania, several thousand employees took a 40-hour course in creative problem-solving. ROI: $20 for every $1 spent.
  • Hewlett-Packard invested over $2 billion in R&D in 1999 and generated more than 1,300 patent applications. Net revenue: $42.37 billion. (Source: HP 2000 Annual report).

It is important to keep in mind ideas may inspire but turning them into action drives impact. Lean into your creativity. Be creative and turn your ideas into reality.   And thrive.

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