Printer Friendly

Shifting the Organizational Mindset: Exploratory Evidence for the Positive Impact of Creativity Training and Strategic Planning.


Current Trends: Creativity as a 21st Century Skill

In January of 2016 the World Economic Forum held its annual meeting in DavosKlosters, Switzerland. Working under the theme of Mastering the Fourth Industrial Revolution members carefully examined current workplace trends and made projections about jobs in the future. One outcome was a prediction of the top ten skills necessary for success in the workplace in 2020 (World Economic Forum, 2016). Topping the list was Complex Problem Solving (see Table 1). Close behind, in the third position, was Creativity. The recognition that creativity and creative problem solving are crucial 21st century workplace skills is not new. Numerous reports from around the globe demonstrate a widely held view that creativity and creativity-related skills are among the most highly desirable job skills. The Conference Board of Canada, for example, isolated individual skills believed to make the most meaningful contributions to an organization's innovation performance. Chief on this list was creativity and problem solving (Conference Board of Canada, 2013 a). The specific skills and attitudes in this category included: identify problems and potential solutions, seek different view points, be adaptable and flexible, approach challenges creatively, and look for surprising connections (Conference Board of Canada, 2013b).

The above reports are not isolated examples of the identification of creativity related skills as fundamental for success in the 21st century workplace. Puccio, Keller-Mathers, Acar and Cayirdag (2016) reviewed nine reports that produced similar findings. Table 1 extends and updates Puccio and his colleagues' original summary of 21st century workplace skills. As seen in this table, every expression of the skills necessary for success in the modern workplace includes creativity or specific creativity-related skills (see items denoted in bold). Taken together these individual reports point to a clear trend--creativity and creativity-related skills are now recognized around the world as some of the most important workplace skills. This begs the question, if creativity-related skills are crucial to an individual's success in today's workplace to what degree do modern educational practices promote these skills?

The Research Setting: Sheridan College's Creative Campus Initiative

Colleges and universities are responsible for preparing students for personal and professional success. Given the skills necessary for success in a workplace increasingly defined by innovation and a world characterized by continuous change, there has been an emerging call for colleges and universities to do more to develop the creativity and creative-thinking skills of their students. In the United States, for example, a 2007 report released by the Association of American Colleges and Universities argued that student learning outcomes across the curriculum should include creative thinking, teamwork, and problem solving. The recognition of the importance of creativity in education, and specifically higher education has not been limited to the United States. Researchers and academics in Singapore (Tan, 2004), China (Chan & Ngok, 2011), and the Republic of Korea (Baker, 1996) have all espoused the relevance of creative thinking for students in the modern economy. Returning to North America, educational, business and government leaders in Canada have recently drawn a sharp focus on the need to better promote college and university students' creative-thinking capacities. For instance, both the Conference Board of Canada (2013b) and the provincial government in Ontario, Canada (Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities, 2012), have explicitly promoted the need for creative thinking in post-secondary education. As the provincial government report boldly envisioned, "Ontario's colleges and universities will drive creativity, innovation, knowledge, and community engagement through teaching and research" (Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities, 2012, p. 7).

Around the same time the provincial government articulated its vision for Ontario colleges and universities, Sheridan College, one of Ontario's largest post-secondary institutions, embarked on an ambitious strategic plan to institutionalize creativity. Building on its world-class reputation in creative programs and practices, Sheridan embraced a Creative Campus commitment to align its strategic direction with current trends that identify creativity as an essential life skill, a mindset, and an emerging cross-disciplinary area of study. The Creative Campus commitment is reflected in Sheridan's branding initiative under the "get creative" tagline, and is articulated in four broad areas: People, Programs, Place and Space, and Process. Sheridan's commitment extends, first and foremost, to a people-centered environment that values engagement, creative leadership, and ongoing celebration of people success.

With respect to student creativity, Sheridan developed an undergraduate certificate in Creativity and Creative Problem Solving, endorsed by the International Center for Studies in Creativity (Buffalo State). As the name of the certificate suggests, it prioritizes the very skills identified by the Conference Board of Canada (2013 a) and, more recently, at the World Economic Forum (2016) as essential to the advancement of innovation performance in the workplace. Over the four years of their degree program, students may select six courses that span a range of disciplines and subject areas in the fields of global culture, humanities, and social sciences; the curriculum seeks to develop creative and critical thinking competencies, alongside deliberate creative problem-solving skills, and to enhance the capacity of students to facilitate and lead the creative process. To date, more than 1,500 students have participated in Sheridan's creativity courses and over 100 students have completed the Certificate in Creativity and Creative Problem Solving.

A key component of the Creative Campus initiative was to align the organizational environment with the creativity content, learning objectives, and skills featured in the undergraduate certificate. As touted in transformational theories of leadership, organizational change is enhanced when leaders model the way (Harland, Harrison, Jones, & Reiter, 2005; Kouzes & Posner, 2002, Mumford, Scott, Gaddis, & Strange, 2002). Thus, it was believed that the goal of a creative campus would be most fully achieved when college leaders, faculty, and professionals modeled the attitudes and behaviors expected of students. With that end in mind, Sheridan embarked on deliberate training in the area of creative thinking and creative problem solving. In collaboration with the International Center for Studies in Creativity (Buffalo State), Sheridan hosted a series of creative problem-solving workshops to mixed groups of faculty and staff. Between 2013 and 2015 nearly 200 faculty, administrators and staff participated in a three-day Creative Problem-Solving program (Puccio, Mance & Murdock, 2011). The first day of training focused on foundational concepts that included: exploring the meaning and importance of creativity; receiving individualized feedback via the FourSight assessment tool regarding creative-thinking preferences (Puccio, 1999; Puccio & Acar, 2015); and application of the basic principles that promote effective divergent and convergent thinking. The second day of training featured an in-depth examination of the four fundamental steps within the Creative Problem-Solving process, based on FourSight theory (Grivas & Puccio, 2012), namely Clarify, Ideate, Develop, and Implement. FourSight theory is a contemporary expression of the Creative Problem Solving framework that originated with Osborn (1953) and has been tested and refined over a 60-year period (Puccio, Murdock, & Mance, 2005). Participants learned and applied a variety of cognitive strategies within each step, that is techniques designed to improve problem clarification (Clarify), idea generation (Ideate), solution development (Develop), and action-planning skills (Implement). During the final day of training, participants applied their newfound creative problem-solving skills to real-world challenges brought to the workshop by outside clients (i.e., either campus colleagues not enrolled in the training program or members of the local community).

Purpose of the Study: The Gap in Creative Problem Solving Research

Creative Problem Solving (CPS) has been one of the most widely studied applied creativity methods (Puccio, Firestien, Coyle & Masucci, 2006). Originally conceived by a prominent pioneer in the creative education movement, Alex Osborn (1953), CPS has enjoyed more than 60 years of ongoing development and research (Puccio, Murdock & Mance, 2005). Scott, Leritz and Mumford's (2004) meta-analytic evaluation of creativity training revealed that programs based on CPS, such as the one outlined in the previous section, were among the most effective in enhancing creative performance, divergent thinking, problem solving, and creative attitudes. In examining the positive impact of CPS, these authors noted, "The Creative Problem-Solving Program (e.g., Parnes & Noller, 1972; Treffinger, 1995) begins by describing the key cognitive processes underlying creative thought. Subsequently strategies for effectively applying these processes are described and illustrations of their application provided" (p. 383). A majority of these impact studies have examined the effects of these cognitive strategies on individuals, far fewer evaluated the impact of CPS training on groups (Firestien & McCowan, 1988), and, according to our literature review, no study has explored the degree to which CPS training has a measurable impact on an organization's environment.

It has been well documented that an organization's environment has a dramatic impact on its creative and innovative capability (Amabile & Gryskiewicz, 1989; Cummings, 1965; Ekvall, 1996; Puccio & Cabra, 2010). This stands to reason given organizations, as systems, inherently consist of complex environments, meaning there are many different elements and interactions occurring within the system that can both support and constrain a firm's innovation performance (Ackoff, 1999; Goldstein, Hazy & Lichtenstein, 2010; Wagner, 2008; Wilden, 1972). Given Sheridan's strategic focus on developing a creative campus, the present study sought to explore the degree to which creativity training might positively impact the innovation readiness of its work environment. Specifically, this study compared those who received CPS training against those who did not to determine whether training contributed to more positive views of the work environment. Moreover, as Sheridan's strategic focus was to become a more creative campus, if differences in perceptions of the work environment exist between those who participated in CPS training and those who did not, were such differences related to environmental factors most indicative of a creative organization.

To visualize the proposed purpose for this study we refer to Puccio, Mance and Murdock's (2011) Creative Change Model (see Figure 1). In 1961 Rhodes indicated that the study of creativity could be organized into four interdependent facets: person, process, product and press (environment). To theoretically depict how these facets interact to produce change specifically within organizational contexts, and more broadly society, Puccio et al. forwarded a systems model. Briefly, these scholars suggested that leadership behavior has a profound impact on the nature of the work environment. The work environment in turn impacts individual organizational members' creative characteristics (persons) and the degree to which they engage in creative-thinking practices (process). As interacting variables, Puccio et al. suggested that individual creative characteristics and creative-thinking practices also help to shape the work environment. These interactions within the organizational context produce creative products (i.e., solutions to problems, new product concepts and services, new business models, etc.) which, when adopted internally or externally, result in effecting change. Using Figure 1 as a framework for the present study, whereas numerous studies have shown the positive effects of CPS training on individual creative-thinking abilities and attitudes, see the intersection between person and process, scholars have not established whether such training might have a positive influence on the nature of the work environment (i.e., impact of process on environment). Sheridan's creative campus initiative provided a unique opportunity to determine whether CPS training enhanced employees' views of their work environment.


In response to the skills required for success in an innovation economy, Sheridan College devised a unique strategic plan aimed at promoting creativity among students while developing a culture of creativity on campus. With respect to the latter, Sheridan deployed CPS training as a tactic to foster a more creative mindset among administrative leaders and faculty and to provide these organizational members with creative cognitive strategies that might be adopted in their respective campus roles and responsibilities. For purposes of the present study, mindset was viewed in a holistic manner. Where Dweck's (2006) popular conception of mindset is primarily focused on how an individual's core beliefs relate to personal growth and development; Richards (2014) described mindset as a world view that shapes the attention, selection, interpretation, and utilization of facts, information, knowledge, and values used by people, organizations, and whole societies as they seek to enact their worlds. Broadly speaking the present study explored whether CPS training contributed to organizational change, specifically a shift in mindset, measured through employees' perceptions of the work environment. Few, if any, studies have examined the degree to which an organization can intentionally move its environment towards a more innovative orientation. Interestingly the inverse has been demonstrated; that is Amabile and Conti (1999) measured the erosion of a creative work environment before, during and after downsizing. Given the fact that past research has documented the positive effects of CPS training on individuals' creative abilities and attitudes, and in light of the contributions both leadership and organizational member behavior makes to the work environment (see Figure 1), the present study set out to determine whether CPS training would facilitate the development of a more imaginative and innovative organizational mindset (defined and described in the Method section).



The sample comprised 77 employees of Sheridan College in 2013 and 95 employees in 2015. Both samples consisted of Senior Executives, Directors, Deans, Associate Deans, and Program Coordinators (Faculty). Overall, the demographic profile of the sample was similar in both 2013 and 2015. For example, in 2013, 92% of the sample selected their age as ranging between 30-60+ years in age with 87% of the sample ranging between 0-15 years of service. In 2015, 98% of the sample selected 30-60+ years in age with 83% of the sample ranging between 0-15 years of service. For both the 2013 and 2015 samples the approximate average age of respondents was 51 years.

Measure and Procedure

The Organizational Growth Indicator (OGI) was used to assess the extent to which the work environment at Sheridan reflected a creative and innovative mindset. The OGI, initially called the Innovation Quotient Inventory, was developed by Richards (2014) as an empirical tool designed to quantitatively assess an organization's ability to grow through innovation and adaptive change. The OGI consists of 12 scales: 8 factors, named "orientations" and 4 additional factors identified as "principal mindsets" (see Table 2). The OGI assesses the culture of an organization in that it asks respondents to report on their observations and experiences of activities actually occurring within the organization, rather than opinions or attitudes which can be more transitory (Ekvall, 1996). Further, the OGI seeks to explicitly codify the organization's cognitive style by way of four principal "mindsets" that influence and support an organization's approach to innovation and organizational change (Richards, 2014). A "mindset" is an expression of how our minds practically work in action (Ryle, 1949; Weick & Roberts, 1993). Mindset can be conceptualized as incorporating underlying thinking and emotional predispositions, values and beliefs that influence the way individuals, and indeed organizations, "make sense" of their environments and enact their worlds (Weick, 1995). As such, the exploration of an organization's mindset incorporates elements of an organization's culture as well as articulates the organization's unique cognitive approach or stylistic preference for engaging with the world as its seeks to achieve intelligent action (Richards, 2014; Schein, 1999).

The version of the OGI used in the current study consisted of 48 items that measure 12 dimensions of the work environment (see Table 1). These dimensions are assessed through such items as "Responsible risk-taking is enabled in our organization" and "We form collaborative communities to foster innovation." Participants used a five-point scale, ranging from 1 (never/almost never) to 5 (always/almost always), to express the degree to which they believed their workplace reflected each item.

The number of items for the 8 orientations varies, ranging from a low of 3 for the collaborative and leadership orientations to a high of 9 for the innovative orientation. The number of items ranged from 4 (Analyze) to 7 (Imagine) for the four principal mindsets. Each of the four mindsets shares different number of items from theoretically associated orientations. For example, the Resolve mindset contains 5 items from the Learning and Innovative orientations. The OGI possesses strong internal reliability as seen in the alpha coefficients associated with samples collected in 2013 and 2015 (see Table 2).

The OGI was initially administered in 2013. All Sheridan employees who were classified as Senior Executives, Directors, Deans, Associate Deans, and Program Coordinators, received an e-mail invitation to complete the OGI via Survey Monkey. This message stated that the purpose of the measure was to "assist organizations to determine their overall ability to innovate." A total of 77 employees completed the online measure representing a response rate of approximately 45%. The OGI was readministered in 2015, a full 16 months after the first administration in 2013. Again, all employees in the categories identified above received an e-mail invitation to complete the online measure. Ninety-five employees, a response rate of approximately 50%, submitted their completed OGI via a proprietary web-based platform.

The OGI was administered to gain insight into the current and evolving mindset at Sheridan, meanwhile CPS training, as described earlier, was adopted as a means to promote organizational change. Starting in 2013 three-day CPS workshops were offered twice each year to groups of about 25 employees, i.e., administrative leaders, faculty, and staff.


To test the main purpose of this exploratory study, analysis began by comparing OGI scores for employees who participated in CPS training versus those who did not. In the 2015 administration of the OGI respondents were asked to indicate whether they had attended the three-day CPS workshop. Table 3 shows the descriptive statistics for those who participated in CPS training (n = 58) and those who did not (n = 37), along with analysis of the difference in their perceptions of the work environment as measured by the OGI. Analysis of the total score for the OGI showed a much more positive view of the work environment among those who experienced the creativity training, t(93) = 2.35, p < .02, d = .54). Consistent with the overall perceptions, an examination of the eight OGI orientations showed significantly more positive perceptions for those who went through the CPS training for six scales (i.e. Creative, Innovative, Collaborative, Connective, Cultural and Leadership). As noted previously, the OGI assesses four organizational mindsets, i.e., Align, Analyze, Imagine and Resolve. A comparison between those trained and those not trained in CPS showed one significant difference among the four OGI mindsets. Here those trained in CPS reported a significantly more positive view of the mindset most conceptually related to Sheridan's goal to become a more creative campus, that is the Imagine scale, t(93) = 2.62,p < .01, d = .54).

Subsequent analyses explored other factors that might have contributed to different perceptions of the work environment beyond the creativity training. This examination began by determining whether employees surveyed more recently, 2015, had different perceptions of the work environment than those who completed the OGI in 2013. Table 4 shows the descriptive statistics for the administration of the OGI in 2015 and 2013. Examination of the mean scores between the two administrations shows positive increases across all orientations and the four mindsets; however, statistical analysis revealed non-significant differences on all scales and the OGI total score.

The previous examination relied mainly on two different groups of participants who completed OGI in 2015 and 2013. Within this data set there were participants who completed OGI in both 2015 and 2013. While the nature of the data collection made it impractical to match all 2015 to 2013 responses, it was possible to isolate 21 individuals who completed the OGI both in 2015 and 2013 (see Table 5). To explore the extent to which participants' overall view of the work environment shifted, a total score comparison was calculated and results showed a non-significant shift, t(20) = 1.09, p = .289, d = .30). An examination of the eight orientations showed one significant change, an improved perception between 2013 and 2015 for the Strategic orientation. Analysis of the four mindsets showed a significant positive change for the Resolve scale.

The final analysis examined whether previous experience with the OGI, that is in 2013, contributed to more positive views in 2015 when compared to those who completed the OGI only in 2015. In other words, did prior exposure to the OGI scales create an expectation of more positive perceptions of the work environment? Table 6 shows a comparison between the 2015 results for those who completed the OGI in 2013 versus those who completed the OGI in 2015 only. This analysis showed no statistical difference for any of the OGI scales when comparing those who had taken the OGI in 2013 versus those who had only taken the OGI in 2015. In other words, prior experience with the OGI seemed not to account for differences in perception in 2015.


While many reports on trends relative to workplace skills have touted the importance of creative thinking, few educational institutions have dedicated themselves to the systematic advancement of their students' creativity capacities. Furthermore, we would argue that it is even more rare for a college or university to institutionalize creativity in a way that features creative thinking both as a student learning outcome and a major goal for organizational development. This dual focus, both on students and institution development, aligns with the Latin proverb "Cura te ipsum," more commonly expressed as "heal thyself'. Rather than simply restricting creative thinking and creative problem solving to classroom contexts and program curricula, Sheridan has attempted to distinguish and transform itself through applied creativity. The present study explored the degree to which Sheridan has been successful in effecting change relative to the goal of developing an institutional mindset reflective of a creative attitude. Transformational leaders model the way (Kouzes & Posner, 2002; Puccio et al., 2011); with this in mind this exploratory study examined the degree to which members of this educational organization believed their work environment reflected an increasingly more creative mindset. Future work will need to explore the impact of Sheridan's creativity courses and curricula on student creativity. To that end, the present study represents an important first step in establishing an organization-wide mindset designed to promote creative thinking, a campus environment that reflects and reinforces the creativity principles and content encapsulated by Sheridan's creativity courses and undergraduate certificate program. Returning to Figure 1, in theory and practice, when the organizational environment embraces a more creative mindset, in this case an educational institution, the organization should be in a much stronger position to promote the creative capacities of all its members. In keeping with the needs of the 21st century (see Table 1), Sheridan'a ultimate goal is to examine and document the impact of the creative campus initiative on its students.

A key tactic in Sheridan's larger creative campus strategy was to engage institutional members in a professional development program founded on CPS. While numerous studies have highlighted the impact of CPS training on individuals, little work has examined the effects of CPS training on an organization and in particular whether training can improve individuals' subjective experiences of the work environment. Lowenberger, Newton and Wick (2014) provide a detailed case study of the effects of CPS training within a British Transport Police department. Their thorough report provides a narrative description of the practical benefits of CPS training, specifically highlighting the creative outcomes produced by this training (i.e. 600 new ideas generated, 52 in the pipeline, and 13 implemented). This research team went on to describe, but only in general terms, the perceived positive effect CPS training had on the work environment. As Lowenberger et al. observed, "Early indications clearly suggest a climate more supportive of creativity and innovation within the existing organisational structure" (p. 196). The present study extends this line of thinking by providing empirical evidence for the potentially positive impact of CPS training on employees' experiences of their work environment.

The moderate effect size for the OGI total score (d = .54) comparing those who participated in CPS training with those who did not, indicated that those who went through the creativity training had a more positive view of the work environment. A closer examination of the OGI scales for 2015 showed that those who received the CPS training had significantly more positive views on six of the eight orientations (i.e. Creative, Innovative, Connective, Collaborative, Cultural and Leadership). With the exception of the Connective scale, which focuses largely on the extent to which technological systems support an exchange among employees, the environmental facets associated with the OGI orientations seem to align conceptually with the attitudes and skills imparted during the CPS training. Not surprisingly, those who experienced the CPS training were much more likely to say that the Sheridan work environment encompassed processes and skills aimed at deliberately facilitating creative thinking (Creative orientation). More broadly, those who went through training were also much more likely to hold the view that the environment at Sheridan encouraged new thinking (Cultural orientation), actively supported innovation (Innovative orientation), and promoted increased levels of cooperation across work units (Collaborative orientation). Finally, those trained in CPS had a more positive view of leadership, indicating that they believed leaders at Sheridan engaged in behaviors that supported growth and transformation (Leadership orientation). All of these dimensions of the work environment closely relate to the kinds of behavior and thinking emphasized during the CPS training. With respect to the Connective scale, while it has a focus on the use of technology to support collaboration, it also captures the extent to which information flows freely in support of knowledge sharing and effective decision-making. This aspect of the Connective scale is reflected in the general spirit of the collaborative exercises used during the CPS training, which was to promote cross-functional problem-solving efforts. To that end, participants often commented on the rare opportunity the training provided to share and interact with others outside of their respective departments.

Given these results for the orientation scales, and the nature of the CPS training, perhaps it should be anticipated that the greatest effect size for the OGI mindsets was found for the Imagine scale (d = .54). Those who went through the CPS training perceived an organizational mindset that was oriented towards discovery through applied imagination, tolerance for the unknown, and willingness to learn and grow through experimentation. In essence, it would seem that the impact of the CPS training related to the organizational mindset most conceptually aligned with, and sensitive to, creativity training.

Limitations, Interpretations and Conclusion

Due to the pragmatic limitations of working with an organization going through strategic change, it was not practicable to employ a research design that randomly assigned participants to training or involved the use of a placebo treatment to measure the effects of the 'real' treatment (i.e., CPS training). As a consequence, it would not be prudent to draw precise cause-and-effect conclusions relative to the impact of CPS training on employees' perceptions of the work environment. However, some rival plausible explanations for the results of this study can be, and should be, explored and dismissed. For example, a comparison of those who completed the OGI both in 2013 and 2015, against those who completed the OGI in 2015 only, showed no statistically significant differences. Moreover, all effect sizes were trivial (i.e. d ranging between a low of .02 and a high of .19). This analysis would indicate that prior experience in completing the OGI in 2013 appeared not to influence results found in 2015, therefore further highlighting the assertion that it was the training that contributed to increased scores for the matched participants who completed the OGI in 2013 and 2015.

Another rival plausible explanation could take the form of the recency effect, that is participants who went through the CPS training might have recalled key principles from the course content and associated those principles with the items on the OGI. In other words, differences seen in subjective perceptions of the work environment could have been caused by immediate recollection as opposed to longer-term and sustained change occurring in the work environment. We would argue that this was unlikely as the shortest duration between CPS training and the administration of the OGI in 2015 was over a four-month period; that is, the most recent CPS course occurred in October of 2014 and the OGI was re-administered in March of 2015. Moreover, as the three-day CPS course was offered in May and October of 2013 and 2014, it is likely that most of the 58 respondents who indicated they had gone through CPS training did so nearly a year or more before completing the OGI in 2015. The duration between training and the OGI may indicate that observations of a more positive environment were not merely the result of simple recall, but likely the result of a positive shift in the individual's experience of the work environment as related to participation in CPS training.

The above points relative to alternative explanations for the findings of the present study notwithstanding, we do remind the reader that the exploratory nature of this study and its small sample size do not make strict cause-and-effect conclusions possible. For practical reasons the present study was unable to match a larger number of respondents across the pre- and post-administration of the environment measure. If possible, future studies would be wise to include a repeated measures comparison between time one and time two, with the CPS training occurring in between. The inclusion of a control group within the same organization, that is a set of employees who do not receive CPS training, would do much to isolate the degree to which such training promotes a positive perception of the work environment.

Even with such research designs organizations are complex and direct connection between training and changes in employees' perceptions of the work environment may prove to be elusive. In the present study, for example, it could be reasonably argued that it was not the CPS training alone that contributed to more positive perceptions of Sheridan's organizational mindset. Rather, it could be suggested that since the training took place within a larger creative campus initiative, that it was the interaction between the training and the organizational strategy that fostered a shift in the organizational mindset. The catalyzing effect of the CPS training is supported by the fact that all employees who completed the work environment measure in 2015 were exposed to the same strategic plan and communications pertaining to Sheridan's strategic imperative to become a creative campus. Perhaps as a catalyzing agent the CPS training provided participants with a tangible experience that helped them to better understand the aspiration to become a creative campus. Culture, in part, is defined by common concepts, stories, principles, and language. The content of the CPS training provided such artifacts of a creative culture. Moreover, the collaborative learning experiences associated with the CPS training were likely to reinforce shared meaning of a core set of concepts, stories, principles, and language. The content of the CPS training embodied the spirit of Sheridan's strategic plan--to be a creative campus--and the cross-disciplinary problem-solving efforts that occurred during the training served as a palpable model for the benefits of creative collaboration. Rather than the CPS training alone as the cause for a positive shift in organizational mindset, it is possible that the CPS training interacted with and served to catalyze transformation that was embedded in an organizational vision, strategic plan, and history. Organizations, like organisms, evolve; perhaps the deliberate deployment of the CPS training within the context of Sheridan's strategic plan helped to accelerate the evolution of this educational institution. It would be interesting for future research, if possible, to investigate the comparative effects of CPS training in an organizational setting guided by a larger strategic imperative aimed at creativity, such as was the case for Sheridan, versus an organization in which such training is conducted without the auspices of a strategic mandate to achieve a more creative culture.

In conclusion, in a world increasingly driven by innovation, where a vast majority of organizations include the word "innovative" in their mission, vision or values (Rosenberg, 2008), few organizations set out to institutionalize creative thinking and problem solving as a way to achieve higher levels of innovation. For far too many organizations "innovation" is merely a buzzword rather than an espoused value (Puccio & Cabra, 2010). The strategic work carried out at Sheridan provides a rare example of an organization that has moved beyond rhetoric and endeavored to transform itself into a more creative organization. Moreover, within this context it would seem that a professional development program founded on CPS has contributed to the positive perceptions of an organizational mindset characterized by imagination and a sense of what is possible. Perhaps the positive outcomes at Sheridan will serve as an example, in general, for those organizations that wish to truly become more innovative. And, more specifically, in the field of post-secondary education, perhaps Sheridan might be a model for those educational institutions interested in better preparing students for work and life in the 21st century by enhancing their creative thinking and problem-solving skills.


Ackoff, R. (1999). Ackoff's best: His classic writings on management. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.

Amabile, T. M., & Conti, R. (1999). Changes in the work environment for creativity during downsizing. Academy of Management Journal, 42, 630-640.

Amabile, T. M., & Gryskiewicz, N. D. (1989). The creative environment scales: Work environment inventory. Creativity Research Journal, 2, 231-253.

Association of American Colleges and Universities (2007). College learning for the new global century. A report from the National Leadership Council for Liberal Education & America's Promise. Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges and Universities.

Baker, M. (1996, December 6). Rooting the rote out of learning: South Korea wants creativity in its education system, not uniform ways of thinking. The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved from

Chan, W. K., & Ngok K. (2011). Accumulating human capital while increasing educational inequality: A study on higher education policy in China. Asia Pacific Journal of Education, 31, 293-310.

Conference Board of Canada (2013a). Skills make innovative companies. [WWWnews release 13-108]. Retrieved from

Conference Board of Canada (2013b). Innovation skills profile 2.0: The skills, attitudes, and behaviors you need to contribute to innovation in the workplace. Retrieved from

Cummings, L. (1965). Organizational climates for creativity. Academy of Management Journal, 8, 220-227.

Dweck, C. S. (2006). Mindset: A new psychology of success. New York, NY: Ballantine Books.

Ekvall, G. (1996). Organizational climate for creativity and innovation. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 5, 105-123.

Firestien, R. L., & McCowan, R. J. (1988). Creative problem solving and communication behaviors in small groups. Creativity Research Journal, 1, 106-114.

Goldstein, J., Hazy, J., & Lichtenstein, B. (2010). Complexity and the nexus of leadership. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

Grivas, C., & Puccio, G. (2012). The innovative team: Unleashing creative potential for breakthrough results. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Harland, L., Harrison, W., Jones, J. R., & Reiter-Palmon, R. (2005). Leadership behaviors and subordinate resilience. Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies, 11, 2-14.

Kouzes, J. M., & Posner, B. J. (2002). Leadership challenge (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Lowenberger, P. A., Newton, M., & Wick, K. (2014). Developing creative leadership in a public sector organisation. International Journal of Public Sector Management, 27, 190-200.

Mumford, M. D., Scott, G. M., Gaddis, B., & Strange, J. M., (2002). Leading creative people: Orchestrating expertise and relationships. The Leadership Quarterly, 13, 705-750.

Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities (2012). Strengthening Ontario's centers of creativity, innovation, and knowledge. Ottawa, ON: Queen's Printer for Ontario. Retrieved from

Osborn, A. F. (1953). Applied imagination: Principles and procedures of creative problem-solving. New York, NY: Scribner.

Parnes, S. J., & Noller, R. B. (1972). Applied creativity: The creative studies project: Part II--Results of the two-year program. The Journal of Creative Behavior, 6, 164-186.

Puccio, G. J. (1999). Creative Problem-Solving preferences: Their identification and implications. Creativity and Innovation Management, 8, 171-178.

Puccio, G. J., & Acar, S. (2015). Creativity will stop you from being promoted--Right? Wrong! A comparison of creative thinking preferences across organizational levels. Business Creativity and the Creative Economy, 1, 4-12.

Puccio, G. J., & Cabra, J. F. (2010). Organizational creativity: A systems perspective. In J. Kaufmann & R. J. Sternberg (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Creativity (pp. 145-173). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Puccio, G. J., Firestien, R. L., Coyle, C., & Masucci, C. (2006). A review of the effectiveness of Creative Problem Solving training: A focus on workplace issues. Creativity and Innovation Management, 15, 19-33.

Puccio, G. J., Keller Mathers, S., Acar, S., & Cayirdag, N. (2016). International Center for Studies in Creativity: Curricular Overview & Impact of Instruction on the Creative Problem-Solving Attitudes of Graduate Students. In C. Zhou (Ed.), Handbook of Research on Creative Problem-Solving Skill Development in Higher Education (pp. 186-211). Hershey, PA: IGI-Global.

Puccio, G. J., Mance, M., & Murdock, M. C. (2011). Creative leadership: Skills that drive change (2nd Ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Puccio, G. J., Murdock, M. C., & Mance, M. (2005). Current developments in creative problem solving for organizations: A focus on thinking skills and styles. The Korean Journal of Thinking & Problem Solving, 15, 43-76.

Rhodes, M. (1961). An analysis of creativity. Phi Delta Kappan, 42, 305-310.

Richards, B. (2014). Innovative organizations as capable cognitive systems: Development and validation of the innovation quotient inventory (INQ-I) (Order No.3610891).

Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Full Text. (1500847861). URL

Rosenberg, M. (2008, March 17). Innovation and creativity--beyond the mission statement. Retrieved from

Ryle, G. (1949). The concept of mind. London, UK: Barnes & Noble Books.

Schein, E. H., (1999). The corporate culture survival guide. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Inc.

Scott, G. M., Leritz, L. E., & Mumford, M. D. (2004). The effectiveness of creativity training: A meta-analysis. Creativity Research Journal, 16, 361-388.

Tan, A. G. (2004). Singapore's creativity education: A framework of fostering constructive creativity. In S. Lau, A. N. N. Hui, & G. Y. C. Ng (Eds.), Creativity: When east meets west (pp. 277-304). Singapore: World Scientific.

Treffinger, D. J. (1995). Creative problem solving: Overview and educational implications. Educational Psychology Review, 7, 191-205.

Wagner, C. (2008). The new invisible college: Science for development. Washington, DC: Brookings Institute Press.

Weick, K. (1995). Sensemaking in organizations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Weick, K. & Roberts, K. (1993). Collective mind in organizations: Heedful interrelating on flight decks. Administrative Science Quarterly, 38, 357-363.

Wilden, A. (1972). System and structure: Essays in communication and exchange (Volume 2). London, UK: Tavistock Publications.

World Economic Forum (2016). The future of jobs: Employment, skills and workforce strategy for the fourth industrial revolution [WWW document]. Retrieved from

Sources from Table 1 (from left to right):

Carnevale, A. P., Gainer, L. J., & Meltzer, A. S. (1990). Workplace basics: The essential skills employers want. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

The Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills. (1991). What work requires of schools: A SCANS report for America 2000. Washington DC: U.S. Department of Labor.

Wallis, C., & Steptoe, S. (2006, December 18). How to bring our schools out of the 20th century. Time, 50-56.

Wagner, T. (2008). The global achievement gap: Why even our best schools don't teach the new survival skills our children need--and what we can do about it. New York, NY: Basic Books.

Trilling, B., & Fadel, C. (2009). 21st Century skills: Learning for life in our times. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Davies, A., Fidler, D., & Gorbis, M. (2011). Future work skills 2020. Palo Alto, CA: Institute for the Future and The University of Phoenix Research Institute. Retrieved from

Otani, A. (2015, January). These are the skills you need if you want to be headhunted. Retrieved from

World Economic Forum (2016). The future of jobs: Employment, skills and workforce strategy for the fourth industrial revolution [WWW document]. Retrieved from

National Association of Colleges and Employers (2016, April). Employers identify four "must have" career readiness competencies for college graduates. Retrieved from

Mary Preece, Yael Katz

Sheridan College, USA

Brett Richards

Connective Intelligence, Inc., USA

Gerard J. Puccio and Selcuk Acar

Buffalo State University of New York, USA

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Gerard J Puccio, International Center for Studies in Creativity, Buffalo State University, Chase Hall 248, 1300 Elmwood Ave. Buffalo, NY 14222 USA. E-mail:
Table 1
Review of Skills Necessary for Success in the Workplace

Workplace                     SCANS Report
Basics                        (1991)

* The Foundation - Knowing    Foundational
how to                        Skills
learn                         * Basic Skills--
                              Reading, writing,
* Competence--Listening       math, listening,
and oral                      speaking
                              * Thinking Skills
* Adaptability--Creative      --Creative
thinking and                  decision making,
problem solving               problem solving,
                              seeing things in
* Personal                    the mind's eye,
Management--                  knowing how to
Self-esteem, goal             learn, reasoning
setting, etc.
                              * Personal
* Group                       Qualities--
Effectiveness--Interpersonal  Responsibility,
skills,                       sociability, self-management,
negotiations, team
work                          integrity
* Influence--
effectiveness and

Workplace                     21st Century        Seven Survival
Basics                        Skills              Skills
(1990)                        (2006)              (2008)

* The Foundation - Knowing    * Knowing more      * Critical thinking
how to                        about the world     & problem
learn                                             solving
                              * Thinking outside
* Competence--Listening       the box             * Collaboration
and oral                                          across networks &
communication                 * Becoming smarter  leading by
                              about new sources   influence
* Adaptability--Creative      of information
                                                  * Agility &
thinking and                  * Developing good   adaptability
problem solving               people skills
                                                  * Initiative &
* Personal                                        entrepreneurialism
Self-esteem, goal                                 * Effective oral &
setting, etc.                                     written
* Group
Effectiveness--Interpersonal                      * Accessing &
skills,                                           information
negotiations, team
work                                              * Curiosity &
* Influence--
effectiveness and

Workplace                     Partnership for
Basics                        21st Century
(1990)                        Skills

* The Foundation - Knowing    * Learning &
how to                        Innovation Skills--Critical
learn                         thinking &
                              problem solving,
* Competence--Listening       communication &
and oral                      collaboration,
communication                 creativity &
* Adaptability--Creative
                              * Digital Literacy
thinking and                  Skills--
problem solving               Information,
                              media, information
* Personal                    & communication
Management--                  technology
Self-esteem, goal
setting, etc.                 * Career & Life
* Group                       & adaptability,
Effectiveness--Interpersonal  social & cross-cultural
skills,                       interactions.
negotiations, team            productivity &
work                          accountability,
                              leadership &
* Influence--                 responsibility
effectiveness and

Workplace                     Future Work
Basics                        Skills 2020
(1990)                        (2011)

* The Foundation - Knowing    * Sense making
how to
learn                         * Social
* Competence--Listening
and oral                      * Novel &
communication                 adaptive thinking

* Adaptability--Creative      * Cross-cultural
thinking and
problem solving               * Computational
* Personal
Management--                  * New media
Self-esteem, goal             literacy
setting, etc.
                              * Trans-disciplinarity
* Group
                              * Design mindset
negotiations, team            * Cognitive load
work                          management

* Influence--                 * Virtual
Organizational                collaboration
effectiveness and

Workplace                     Bloomberg
Basics                        Businessweek
(1990)                        (2015)

* The Foundation - Knowing    * Communication
how to
learn                         * Analytical
* Competence--Listening
and oral                      * Collaboration
                              * Strategic thinking
* Adaptability--Creative
                              * Leadership
thinking and
problem solving               * Creative
                              Problem Solving
* Personal
Management--                  * Motivation/Drive
Self-esteem, goal
setting, etc.                 * Adaptability

* Group                       * Quantitative
                              * Initiative/risk-taking
negotiations, team
work                          * Decision Making
* Influence--                 * Industry-related
Organizational                work experience
effectiveness and
leadership                    * Global mindset
                              * Entrepreneurship

Workplace                     World
Basics                        Economic
(1990)                        Forum

* The Foundation - Knowing    * Complex
how to                        problem solving
                              * Critical thinking
* Competence--Listening
and oral                      * Creativity
                              * People
* Adaptability--Creative      management
thinking and                  *Coordinating
problem solving               with others
* Personal                    * Emotional
Management--                  intelligence
Self-esteem, goal
setting, etc.                 *Judgment and
                              decision making
* Group
Effectiveness--Interpersonal  * Service
negotiations, team            * Negotiation
                              * Cognitive
* Influence--                 flexibility
effectiveness and

Workplace                     Career
Basics                        Readiness
(1990)                        Competencies

* The Foundation - Knowing    * Critical
how to                        thinking/problem
learn                         solving
* Competence--Listening       *Professionalism/Work
and oral                      ethic
                              * Teamwork
* Adaptability--Creative
                              * Oral/Written
thinking and                  communications
problem solving
                              * Information
* Personal                    technology
Management--                  application
Self-esteem, goal
setting, etc.                 * Leadership
* Group                       * Career
Effectiveness--Interpersonal  Management
skills,                       * Global/Intercultural
negotiations, team
work                          fluency
* Influence--
effectiveness and

Table 2
Dimensions Assessed by the Organizational Growth Indicator

OGI Scales     Description                               2013    2015
Orientation                                              n = 77  n = 95

Strategic      Degree of sensitivity and responsiveness  .88     .87
               to changes in external environment
Innovative     Degree to which innovation is currently   .90     .88
               valued, resourced and executed to create
               new value
Learning       Degree to which knowledge is captured     .83     .83
               and shared to enhance future
Collaborative  Degree to collaboration is maximized      .69     .80
               within and between functions, as well as
               with external partners
Connective     Degree to which networks and IT are       .83     .78
               used to enhance information, ideas and
               knowledge sharing
Cultural       Degree to which the environment           .88     .86
               motivates & encourages new thinking
Leadership     Degree to which leaders model behaviors   .64     .74
               that support growth and transformation
Creative       Degree to which processes and skills are  .90     .90
               developed to improve creative thought
Mindsets                                                 n = 77  n = 95
Imagine        Focuses on new ideas and discovery        .87     .85
Resolve        Focuses on solutions and results          .87     .73
Analyze        Focuses on information and proof          .92     .74
Align          Focuses on values and integration         .89     .86

Table 3
OGI 2015 Scores of CPS and Non-CPS Groups

               CPS group (n = 58)  Non-CPS group (n = 37)
Orientations   M          SD       M               SD      t

Creative        26.29      5.56     23.24           5.69   2.58 (**)
Strategic       22.90      4.10     21.43           4.34   1.66
Innovative      29.24      5.49     26.49           5.86   2.32 (*)
Learning        18.16      3.64     17.49           3.88   0.85
Collaborative    9.81      2.34      8.78           2.12   2.16 (*)
Connective      20.07      3.48     17.95           3.67   2.84 (**)
Cultural        19.36      3.96     17.64           4.52   1.95 (*)
Leadership       9.72      2.18      8.81           1.91   2.09 (*)
Align           19.57      3.90     17.97           4.28   1.87
Analyze         11.50      2.54     10.84           2.89   1.18
Imagine         23.38      4.46     20.97           4.21   2.62 (**)
Resolve         16.33      2.86     15.27           3.12   1.69
OGI Total      155.55     27.26    141.84          28.50   2.35 (*)

Orientations   d

Creative       0.54
Strategic      0.34
Innovative     0.48
Learning       0.20
Collaborative  0.49
Connective     0.59
Cultural       0.40
Leadership     0.39
Align          0.39
Analyze        0.24
Imagine        0.54
Resolve        0.35
OGI Total      0.54

Note: OGI = Organizational Growth Indicator

(*) p <.05, (**) p < .01

Table 4
Comparison of the OGI Results for 2015 and 2013

               2015(n = 51)   2013 (n = 77)
Orientations   M       SD     M       SD     t     d

Creative        25.06   5.26   24.04   5.56  1.04  0.19
Strategic       22.65   3.40   21.68   4.58  1.30  0.23
Innovative      28.22   5.03   26.88   6.02  1.31  0.23
Learning        18.08   3.36   17.30   4.09  1.13  0.21
Collaborative    9.47   2.06    9.16   2.04  0.85  0.17
Connective      18.92   3.35   18.55   4.05  0.55  0.10
Cultural        18.86   3.79   18.47   4.10  0.55  0.10
Leadership       9.27   2.03    9.19   2.03  0.22  0.04
Align           19.22   3.74   18.61   4.06  0.85  0.15
Analyze         11.31   2.35   11.00   2.55  0.70  0.12
Imagine         22.37   3.87   21.56   4.63  1.04  0.19
Resolve         15.94   2.62   15.16   3.55  1.36  0.24
OGI Total      150.53  24.25  145.26  29.64  1.06  0.20

Note: OGI = Organizational Growth Indicator

Table 5
Comparison of OGI 2015 and 2013 Results for Matched Respondents
(n = 21)

               2015           2013
Orientations   M       SD     M       SD     paired t   d

Creative        25.86   5.04   24.71   5.02   0.80       0.23
Strategic       23.76   3.16   21.86   2.97   2.11 (*)   0.62
Innovative      26.76   4.89   27.48   5.26  -0.56      -0.14
Learning        21.86   3.51   20.43   3.03   1.80       0.48
Collaborative    9.76   1.84    9.14   1.77   1.26       0.34
Connective      20.38   3.58   18.48   3.33   2.05       0.55
Cultural        19.14   3.72   18.71   3.93   0.42       0.11
Leadership       9.71   2.24    9.43   1.47   0.47       0.15
Align           19.76   3.70   18.67   3.64   1.17       0.30
Analyze         11.38   2.92   10.95   2.18   0.62       0.17
Imagine         23.38   4.39   21.95   3.63   1.18       0.35
Resolve         16.71   2.83   15.24   2.93   2.13 (*)   0.51
OGI Total      157.24  24.64  150.24  23.48   1.09       0.30

Note: OGI = Organizational Growth Indicator

(*) p <.05, (**) p < .01

Table 6
Comparison of OGI 2015 Scores between Those Completed the OGI in Both
2013 & 2015 and Those that Did Not

               2013 & 2015       2015 only
                       (n = 44)          (n = 51)
Orientations   M       SD        M       SD        t       p    d

Creative        25.16   6.39      25.06   5.26     -0.08   .93  0.02
Strategic       21.95   5.05      22.65   3.40      0.79   .43  0.18
Innovative      28.11   6.58      28.22   5.03      0.09   .93  0.02
Learning        17.68   4.15      18.08   3.36      0.52   .61  0.11
Collaborative    9.34   2.57       9.47   2.06      0.27   .39  0.06
Connective      19.61   4.06      18.92   3.35     -0.91   .37  0.08
Cultural        18.50   4.76      18.86   3.79      0.41   .68  0.14
Leadership       9.48   2.24       9.27   2.03     -0.46   .64  0.13
Align           18.64   4.52      19.22   3.74      0.68   .50  0.10
Analyze         11.16   3.06      11.31   2.35      0.28   .78  0.16
Imagine         22.52   5.17      22.37   3.87     -0.16   .87  0.18
Resolve         15.89   3.41      15.94   2.62      0.09   .93  0.19
OGI Total      149.84  32.87     150.52  24.25      0.12   .91  0.03

Note: OGI = Organizational Growth Indicator
COPYRIGHT 2017 Korean Association for Thinking Development
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2017 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Preece, Mary; Katz, Yael; Richards, Brett; Puccio, Gerard J.; Acar, Selcuk
Publication:The International Journal of Creativity and Problem Solving
Article Type:Report
Date:Oct 1, 2017
Previous Article:Teacher Self-concepts of Creativity: Meeting the Challenges of the 21st Century Classroom.
Next Article:The Digital Culture: Potential Effects on Creative and Higher Order Thinking.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2022 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters |