Creativity is the capacity within individuals to develop ideas for the purpose of solving problems and exploiting opportunities.
It is important to define creativity because it can mean a lot of different things to different people.
Creativity is not art, it is not design and it most certainly is not the sole preserve of tortured geniuses and mad scientists.
Creativity is a capacity - it is something that we can all learn to use more effectively. It allows us to develop ideas to solve problems in different ways and to spot, adapt to, embrace and capture opportunities.
In all industries need creative thinking. There is not an employee who does not (at least sometimes) face problems and opportunities. This is when we need to call upon our capacities to develop ideas.
Innovation relies on creativity. You can not innovate without first developing some ideas. Creativity is the source of innovation. If we do not use our creativity to develop a range of ideas and potential solutions, we can not select the most promising ideas and put them into practice.
Innovation is the application of creativity to give rise to a new concept, product, service or process delivering something new and better to the world.
When we innovate, we work with the creative ideas we have developed and put them into practice. Innovation is NOT just about making new gadgets and fancy widgets. We can be innovative in New Product Design, but in many other ways too. New concepts, like how to lead and motivate people at work, as well as new services and processes.
Little wonder that both the Boston Consulting Group Strategy Survey (2010) and the 15th Global CEO Survey by PwC (2012) found creativity and innovation to be primary strategic aims.
The Profit report found that fast-moving, agile companies recognize the importance of creative thinking skills, concluding that "the ability to manage, organize, cultivate and nurture creative thinking is directly linked to growth and achievement."
Research studies have shown that creativity can be trained. 142 separate studies and concluded that creativity training significantly improves individual creativity and problem solving. This finding has been replicated many times.
Training someone to develop their creativity is similar to how we would train someone to play tennis.
A tennis coach would start by diagnosing your approach - they would ask you to hit some balls, serve a few and examine your backhand and forehand. They would then develop a customized program to address weaknesses and build on your strengths.
This principle of a diagnosis before training should also be applied to training and developing creativity.
After a diagnosis each person or team can choose creativity tools and exercises that play to their strengths and develop their weaknesses.
The first and most fundamental barrier, is that people do not understand that they are creative and do not recognise where their strengths and weaknesses lie. They can rectify this by considering their style and approach towards beign creative - before working on their natural strengths and weaknesses.