Should innovation be left to your creative teams?

Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because… they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesise new things.

            - Steve Jobs

Innovation is not just about ‘out of the box’, ‘blue-sky’ solutions. Sure, we need to use some right-brain thinking to free our imaginations and find creative answers. But, you need to match this witha left-brain process and hard work. Organisations can do a great job and spend lots of time-solving the wrong problem. So, it’s important to take thetime to understand the real problem that needs to be solved and to make sure the real problem is well defined.

How do you define your problem?

Before you start to solve your problem, ensure your problem is well-defined. What scale is your problem? (How much and how long?) What time-scale does it need resolving in? Be specific, get down to the detail and make sure that everyone in the process fully understands. Extra time spent at this stage of the process will save a lot of wasted time and effort later in the project.

How do you solve your problem?

The solution to a problem can sometimes come from the most unlikely sources, and it’s often the intersection of different fields that results in major innovations.

Innovation magic

Companies succeed at innovation when they assemble diverse teams from all areas of the business and get them to work together to solve a problem. A diverse mix of people will provide a wider range of experience and therefore a wider range of solutions. How diverse are your problem-solving groups?

Here is where you need to ensure you engage your right brain in generating your ideas. Use methods that encourage the right side of your brain, use images, quotes and questions. At this stage, you need to gather as many ideas as possible, record them all – even the really ‘out-there’ solutions. Sometimes, these ‘out-there’ solutions will provoke conventional solutions that lead to the most productive actions.

Which solution is the right one?

When you define the problem well, and you use a process with a diverse set of people to find solutions – there is never a shortage of ideas. But when there are so many ideas, how do you decide which one you will adopt? Now the left brain needs to take over again, with a process that defines the parameters for your solution. However be unreasonable with the time you allow for this part because the extra pressure can help you prune the ideas that don’t suit your parameters.

So, innovation needs unreasonable time pressure on the logical left side of the brain, working hand-in-hand with your creative right brain. A process combining creativity and logic enables you to connect people’s experiences and find solutions to your seemingly impossible problems. 


Gary Peacock, Head of Innovation & Research @ Gordian Business Master’s degree from Cranfield, Technology School, UK&MBA from Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM)

Should innovation be left to your creative teams?
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