Nodding Acquaintance with Creativity


Creativity is the set of attitudes, abilities, and mental processes that increase the probability of hitting upon solutions that seem to the well informed both novel and appropriate. Thus, whether the outcome of an effort is going to be creative or not is likely to depend upon the personality and attitudes of the person involved, certain distinctive mental abilities that go beyond just IQ, and certain problem solving processes in which what is called convergent thinking is nicely balanced by what is known as divergent or lateral thinking.

 The essence of what we consider creative is the element of freshness, originality, and novelty that is also appropriate to the context. If a manager gives dictation standing on his head, it could be considered novel, but hardly appropriate. Feeding effeminate men rhino horn may be a novel way of infusing virility but there is no evidence that it works. Meditating for 20 minutes a is also a creative act for the manager, for it is known to raise creative ideas to consciousness. It is difficult to satisfy the two relatively contrary properties, namely, that the act must be novel and must be reasonably appropriate to the context. It is easy to think up novel ideas and it is easy to use solutions that have worked in the past. What is difficult is to find solutions that are novel and also effective.

 My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Structure, Roles, and Rules


What sort of structure would help the team function innovatively? The purpose of any structure is to make sure that certain essential tasks, especially repetitive tasks, get done. Structure need not be incompatible with creativity if it realeases time and energy for creative work rather than blocking creativity with excessive rules, specialization, centralization, etc. What, therefore, needs to be done is to make an inventory of tasks that must be performed more or less repitively, and allocate these tasks to individuals within or outside the team.

 However, the roles of team members should not be defined only in terms of these tasks;  there are only minimum elements of their roles. It is important to define roles broadly and not too strictly. Some ambiguity helps interaction and role clarification, not by the leader but by the situation. Indeed, it heps to have versatile team members, i.e., persons who can double for others should the need arise. Periodic interchange of roles within the team can help develop this verstality. Researchers have indicated some specific roles in innovative teams beyond those for effective teams. The creative scientist/engineer/idea man is one role. The entrepreneur (vis-à-vis the outer world) and the intrapreneur (vis-à-vis the team members) are further roles. The entrepreneur seeks new missions for the group. The intrapreneur seeks new activities within the broad mission for group members. The protector-defender-sponsor is a fourth role, whose function is to get the team the resources it needs for innovative work from the larger system of which it may be a part, and also to defend the team from external pressures or attacks. The gatekeeper is a fifth role, that of bringing to the team essential market, technical, or political intelligence from outside that can become the basis for meaningful divergent thinking. These roles need not be played by different individuals. The important point is that they should get played.

 My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight