ROLE OF INNOVATION AND CREATIVITY IN
BY VDS BRINK
Society faces many challenges that can only be solved by renewing our way of thinking. Creativity and
innovation are more important than ever before. The application thereof on business process management is
essential to create better organizations. This can only happen if leadership in organizations understands and fosters
it. Innovation needs to be managed as any other process and with logical focused steps individuals and groups
can think beyond the obvious and create great value.
IN THIS ARTICLE
Introduction INTRODUCTION 1
CURRENT STATE OF AFFAIRS 1
Never before in history has society been CONTEXT OF INNOVATION AND BPM 2
confronted with the amount of change we face today. ORGANIZATIONAL CONTEXT 2
Organizations and individuals are met with a simple CREATIVITY AND INNOVATION IN PRACTICE 2
MANAGEMENT AND LEADERSHIP 3
choice: create the future in a creative manner or be
IN SUMMARY 4
mere passengers towards it. This choice will largely
determine success or failure in the future.
everything we do, focus on improving on all levels,
This article explains some of these changes in the
be different and unique, study global practice,
context of Business Process Management (BPM) and
sharpen our radar systems to pick up on great
gives some practical guidelines to apply creativity
opportunities, never give up on innovation and do it
and innovation in everyday life towards a better
in an ethical way with empathy for those that are
lagging behind (Sunter, 2001).
The world of the next decade will differ immensely
from the one we used to know. The baby boomers,
currently representing a large percentage of the
South Africa today is reaping the results of a
population, will move into retirement, and a new
decade of solid democracy and financial
generation, now 15-25 years old will bring a new
management. The growth rate attained exceeded all
dimension, skills offering and a vastly different
expectations. A strong middle class has developed,
laying a sound foundation for the future.
The shadows of several revolutions - the
However education, law enforcement and general
information revolution, the coming of the new South
wellness are lacking in many respects. This is due to
Africa, and the rise of Conscious Capitalism - will
many root causes, including the growing divide
pose greater challenges to individuals and
between rich and poor, and the inability of local
organizations (Aberline, 2007).
governments to provide basic services.
In this new world, long-term planning rituals do not
To be competitive on a world class level is within
work anymore, as strategy will become a living
our reach, but this will require leadership of a
thing. Quantum leaps become more important than
different kind. We need to have a passion for
incremental steps. We will need to destruct
frequently, see all positions as temporary and do technological breakthroughs, but poses challenges in
everything as a project. We have to cut the the way that it requires people to fundamentally
sideshows and create awe-inspiring value with an change the way they work.
A key tactic will be to cross communication In this new world we are entering the real winners
boundaries with high touch and more female will be those that work together, put things together,
thinking, as we all work in cross-functional teams. and show others how to; those who do it differently,
We must fire turf kings and move frequently – a bit apply it differently, and do it locally in an empathetic
like musical chairs (Peters, 2003).
The year 2011 poses exceptional challenges and
opportunities. Newspapers do not write about it
due to the obsession with 2010, but understanding
the aftermath of 2010 may bring greatness to those high
that consider it carefully.
“It is time that we move from judgemental thinking
to thinking concerned with value creation…..
We can analize the past, or we can design the low
future…that is the difference between suffering Low
the future or enjoying it!” de Bono (2002).
and environmentally conscious manner (Friedman,
2006). More than ever before, winning will be about
Context of Innovation and BPM
doing things differently.
Following current ways of thinking and acting will
not bring wealth, prosperity and a better world
(Venter, 2004, personal communication).
We need to get over the idea of sharply defined units
and move to a point where managers are representing
Strategic Conventional Value
focus thinking innovation markets, products and processes rather than having
Industry Its given Shape it
total control over it (Hammer, 2002). Yet
management often fights for its “God-given”
Strategic focus Beat Make them
competition irrelevant territory (Moss-Kantor, 2003).
Customers Retain & Focus on
There are exponentially more data and information
than a few years ago. Most of these are available to
Assets Use existing Renew
everybody, but creating knowledge from it is more
difficult. Real insight and finally wisdom are only
Products In traditional Solutions
boundaries beyond attained at great effort and with exceptional sharing
of it in a climate of trust. This process is
indispensable in attaining a competitive edge.
We should see a process as something that converts
In leading this process, managers need to move
inputs to outputs and BPM as a structured way to
from doing the right things to doing things right,
analyze and continually improve fundamental
from doing right things better to doing away with
activities such as manufacturing, marketing,
things, from doing what others do, to doing what
communication, and administering. Applying
they do not do, and doing the impossible.
innovation on BPM processes does not require major
Creativity and Innovation in practice
To practice creativity managers need to lead the
process to continuously create many ideas and steer Relax, play, talk. Never just start the process. Great
it towards practical implementation. Creativity ideas will not happen in stressful situation
happens when we:
• Are set to break sets, destruct if necessary Step 2:
• Explore givens, use good things of the past
Explore all aspects of the challenges. Avoid open
• See a broad picture with local detail
discussion and brainstorming. Use anonymous
• Value play, become children again
techniques. The focus is on quantity not quality.
• Build up, and not knock down
Listen to a story, note daydreams or use the brain-
• Live with looseness
• Involve others (never do it alone)
• Connect and are receptive
• Know what we want, have a focus and a Reduce ideas to the vital few things that must be
vision done. Divide these ideas into groups, discuss the
• Cycle often,close late grouped items and label with a new name.
• Manage the process (Open University B822,
2007) Step 4:
Creativity amongst people will only happen if they Discuss and gather more information. At this point
trust each other and the process starts with bonding, make presentations on the topic.
then sharing, followed by new insight.
The innovation process consists of generating many
ideas, filtering it to the vital few and combining it to Break, incubate, sleep over it.
steer towards a product or process of value.
Before this step use metaphors like items from nature
or art to stimulate right brain thinking.
the innovation chain
Create many ideas on how to solve the challenge.
a new way
Use playful techniques, use art, stories, play, and
paint. Have fun!
Market? Many, many manage new
Resources? ideas projects
Reduce ideas to the vital few and group into clusters.
Creativity creates more knowledge;
Label clusters of ideas and name the clusters as
innovation creates wealth resultant action steps.
An 11-step process to work alone, in meetings or in
groups is recommended (Open University B822,
Screen further with only the vital few remaining.
Creatix Design for the layout of this article and the
design of the PowerPoint presentation
Tertia Agenbag for additional research.
Prioritize. Do the easy steps with the highest impact.
Create an action plan with action step, date for
completion and responsible person.
Execute and follow up.
Management and Leadership
Managing creativity means that the managers need to
equip themselves to read the environment, be
proactive and visionary, have excellent people skills
and remote management skills, use IT to transform,
manage complexity and be competent to manage
Leading a process like this can be compared to
certain techniques followed by a Jazz band:
• Know where the soloist is
• The soloist listens and builds on group
• Know the rules and when to break it
• Experiment in the band by changing structure
• Overblow your clarinet / sax sometimes
• Expect smashes, recover and move on
• Do not repeat the same solo, improvise on the
Creativity and resultant innovation is a choice. It is a
choice each person and each organization can make.
It is a difficult journey that will often challenge our
existing ways of doing. . However, the outcomes of
this process hold such great promise that we have no
choice but to embark on this journey.
Southern Africa Institute of Management Services for
their trust and support
Marianne Theunissen for creative writing.
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