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Creativity training for business.

Creativity is increasingly valued by business organizations; many are making it one of their highest training priorities. Business Week reports that over half of the Fortune 500 Companies send their chief executives as well as employees from all other levels of the organization for creativity training.

What has sparked this interest in creativity training in business? The bottomline answer is that the most imaginative companies are the ones turning new ideas into dollars. In our competitive environment, organizations are recognizing that they have to be innovative or they will be left behind. The world of business today is characterized by:

* Technological impact

* Accelerating change

* Global economy

* Fierce competition

* Unstable, unpredictable and chaotic events

These modem day characteristics add up to one important point; no firm can take anything for granted. The only certainty in today's world is uncertainty. To deal with this situation, organizations need employees who are creative and flexible thinkers.

Progressive companies have realized that most business graduates are far from being creative. Paul Reichmann, chosen by his peers as Canada's top business person of the year in 1988, stated that liberal arts graduates are better re red for business in today's world than MBAs. Reichmann feels that liberal arts graduates more so than business graduates are creative because they have learned how to think freely. Lee Iacocca, another prominent person in business, feels much the same way. He has said "MBAs know everything and understand nothing-. Iacocca inferred that most business graduates have formulas for everything. Most of these formulas are worthless in the new age of business where creativity and innovation are required to succeed.

The emphasis of creativity in business is a recent phenomenon. In the past creativity was thought to exist in the realm of the artist and musician and not in the realm of the business person. With innovation being cited as one of the three most important factors for today's business success (along with customer service and employee leadership), creativity has been given more attention by companies. Innovative thinking is important for the success of both individuals and organizations. In a world which is changing at an unprecedented rate, ingenuity is needed to respond to the unexpected.

The concensus now is that creativity can be taught. The ability to come up with something new is generally not a function of heredity nor is it a function of an extremely high education. There is no magic associated with the skill of creativity. The ability to see more and come up with new ideas or solutions can be learned.

Creativity is a skill that can be developed by just about every employee. It is a thinking skill, not difficult to master. All creativity training involves is first making employees aware of some basic principles and techniques and then having them use these principles and techniques on the job.

What is crucial in implementing creativity training is ensuring that the work environment supports innovation. Many companies need to change their organizational structures before creativity training programs will be of any use.

The generation of new initiatives is what creativity in business is all about. There are many benefits to be gained by having an organization support creativity programs.

Fostering more creativity and innovation results in:

* New products or services created

*Improvements in current products and services

*Better and faster decision making

*Reduction in production and marketing costs

*Identification of new market segments

*Looking ahead to avert threats to the company

*New ways of promoting the company's services

*Better product differentiation to eliminate the competition

*Personal growth and wellness for employees

*Superior business performance and higher profits

The importance of having highly flexible and creative employees in today's world cannot be overemphasized. Paul Torrence, a prominent researcher in creativity, states: The genius of the future will be the creative mind adapting itself to the shape of things to come ... The skills of creative thinking must be recognized as mankind's most important adaptability skills. Such skills must become basic to the curriculum of schools, homes, business, and other agencies. - More business people, educators and government leaders must be made aware of the benefits of creativity in organizations. Organizations not interested in innovation will not stay viable in the new world of business for very long. Business organizations require a continuous flow of innovation for them to prosper in the sea of competition. This innovation has to come from highly trained, creative, and flexible employees.

Employee creativity is still largely an underutilized resource. Only a small percentage of organizations have incorporated training programs to develop and utilize this powerful resource. These are the organizations with an edge, most likely to prosper in the 1990's. They are also the most likely to still be around in the 21st century.
COPYRIGHT 1989 Canadian Institute of Management
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Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Zelinski, Ernest J.
Publication:Canadian Manager
Date:Jun 22, 1989
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