Improving creativity in Decision Making

Although following the steps of the rational decision making model will often improve decisions, the rational decisions maker also needs creativity, that is, the ability to produce novel and useful ideas. These are ideas that are problem or opportunity presented. Why is creativity important to decision making? It allows the decision maker to more fully appraise and understand the problem, including seeing problems others can’t see. However, creativity’s most obvious value is in helping the decision maker identify all viable alternatives or to identify alternatives that aren’t readily apparent.

Creative Potential: Most people have creative potential that they use when confronted with a decision making problem. But to unleash that potential, they have to get out of the psychological ruts many of us get into and learn how to think about a problem in divergent ways.

People differ in their inherent creativity and exceptional creativity is scarce. Albert Einstein. Emily Dickinson, Pablo Picasso, and Wolfgang Mozart were individuals of exceptional creativity. What about the typical individual? People who score high on Openness to Experience, for example, are more likely to be creative. Intelligent people also are more likely to be creative. Other traits that have been found to be associated with creative people: independence, self-confidence, risk taking, an internal locus of control, tolerance for ambiguity, and perseverance in the face of frustration.

A study of the lifetime creativity of 461 men and women found that fewer than 1 percent were exceptionally creative, but 10 percent were highly creative and about 60 percent were some what creative. This suggests that most of us have creative potential; we just need to learn to unleash it.

Three Component Model of Creativity: Given that most people have the capacity to be at least somewhat creative, what can individuals and organizations do to stimulate employee creativity? The best answer to this question lies in the three component model of creativity .Based on an extensive body of research this model proposes that individual creativity essentially requires expertise, creative thinking skills, and intrinsic task motivation. Studies confirm that the higher the level of each of these three components, the higher the creativity.

Expertise is the foundation for all creative work. Many of Eminem’s lyrics for example, were based on his childhood experiences. The film writer producer, and director Quentin Tarantino spent his youth working in a video rental store, were he built up an encyclopedic knowledge of movies. The potential for creativity is enhanced when individuals have abilities, knowledge proficiencies, and similar expertise in their field of endeavor. For example, you wouldn’t expect someone with a minimal knowledge of programming to be very creative.

The second component is creative thinking skills. This encompasses personality characteristics associated with creativity, the ability to use analogies, as well as the talent to see the familiar in a different light.

Research suggests that we are more creative when we’re in good moods, so if we need to be creative we should do things that make us happy. Perhaps that is listening to music we enjoy, eating foods we like, watching funny movies or socializing with others. There is also evidence that suggests being around others who are creative can actually make us more inspired, especially if we’re creatively stuck.

The effective use of analogies allows decision makers to apply an idea from one context to another. One of the most famous examples in which analogy resulted in a creative breakthrough was Alexander Graham Bell’s observation that it might be possible to take concepts of how that ear operates and apply them to his “talking box”. He noticed that the bones in the ear are operated by a delicate, thin membrane. He wondered why then thicker and stronger piece of membrane shouldn’t be able to move a piece of steel. Out of that analogy, the telephone was conceived.

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