Creativity, Innovation, and Science - Separate and Distinct or Not?
There is a pervasive belief that creativity and innovation are separate and distinct from the concept of science. That creativity and innovation cannot be scientific. This is completely false.
An event begins to fall into the realms of science when experiments are repeatable and the results reproducible. The myth that creativity occurs out of the blue combines to create the impression that it is impossible to design repeatable experiments that generate reproducible results.
One useful definition for this article is to define creativity as problem identification and idea generation and innovation as idea selection, development and commercialisation.
To make creativity scientific, ask two questions:
a) Can repeatable experiments (processes, structures etc) be designed to increase problem identification? Is an increase of output reproducible?
b) Can repeatable experiments (processes, structures etc) be designed to increase idea generation? Is an increase of output reproducible?
To make innovation scientific, ask three questions:
a) Can repeatable experiments (processes, structures etc) be designed to increase idea selection effectiveness? Is an increase of output reproducible?
b) Can repeatable experiments (processes, structures etc) be designed to increase development output? Is an increase of output reproducible?
c) Can repeatable experiments (processes, structures etc) be designed to increase commercialisation output? Is an increase of output reproducible?
Answering the above:
a) It is not unusual for people to agree that repeatable experiments (processes, structures etc) can be designed to increase problem identification. Results - an increase of output - are reproducible.
b) When people need to generate ideas, they will herd people into a room with a flip chart and conduct an idea brainstorming session. Implicit in this action is the acceptance that certain processes and structures etc... increase idea generation. In fact there are an infinite number of processes and structures that increase idea generation and make insight more likely (see MBA dissertation at www.managing-creativity.com). Results - an increase of output - are reproducible.
c) It is not unusual for people to agree that repeatable experiments (processes, structures etc) can be designed to increase problem idea selection effectiveness. Results - an increase of output - are reproducible.
d) It is not unusual for people to agree that repeatable experiments (processes, structures etc) can be designed to increase development output. Results - an increase of output - are reproducible.
e) It is not unusual for people to agree that repeatable experiments (processes, structures etc) can be designed to increase commercialisation output. Results - an increase of output - are reproducible.
In conclusion, given the nature of creativity and innovation, it may not be possible to design repeatable experiments that produce exactly the same ideas, but it is possible to design repeatable experiments that always produce an increase in idea generation. Though you cannot predict what an idea will be, where it will occur and what form it will take you can increase the likelihood of ideas occurring. Further, you can increase the number of ideas produced, the rarity of those ideas, the diversity of those ideas and the frequency of their production.
There is much more to this??
This topic is covered in depth in the MBA dissertation on Managing Creativity & Innovation, which can be purchased (along with a Creativity and Innovation DIY Audit, Good Idea Generator Software and Power Point Presentation) from http://www.managing-creativity.com. You can also receive a regular, free newsletter by entering your email address at this site.
You are free to reproduce this article as long as no changes are made and the author's name and site URL are retained.
Kal Bishop MBA is a management consultant based in London, UK. He has consulted in the visual media and software industries and for clients such as Toshiba and Transport for London. He has led Improv, creativity and innovation workshops, exhibited artwork in San Francisco, Los Angeles and London and written a number of screenplays. He is a passionate traveller. He can be reached on http://www.managing-creativity.com
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