The rational decision maker needs creativity: the ability to produce novel and useful ideas. The ideas are different from what’s been done before but are also appropriate to the problem or opportunity presented. Why is creativity important to decision making? It allows the decision maker to appraise and understand the problem more fully including seeing problems others can’t see. However, creativity’s most obvious value is in helping the decision maker identify all viable alternatives.
What is creative potential?
Most people have creative potential that they can use when confronted with a decision making problem. But to unleash that potential, they have to get out of the psychological ruts most of us get into and learn to think bout a problem in divergent ways.
We can start with the obvious. People differ in their inherent creativity. Einstein, Edison, Dali, and Mozart were individuals of exceptional creativity. Not surprisingly exceptional creativity is scarce. A study of 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 somewhat creative. These findings suggest that most of us have creative potential if we can learn to unleash it.
Uncertainty: A condition in which managers do not have full knowledge of the problem they face and cannot determine even a reasonable probability of alternative outcomes
Creativity: The ability to produce novel and useful ideas.
Given that most people have the capacity to be at least moderately 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 the each of these three components the higher the creativity.
Expertise is the foundation of all creative work. Dali’s understanding of art and Einstein’ knowledge of physics were necessary conditions for them to be able to make creative contributions to their fields. And you wouldn’t expect someone with a minimal knowledge of programming to be highly creatures a software engineer. The potential for creativity is enhanced when individuals have abilities, knowledge, proficiencies and similar expertise in their fields of endeavor.
The second component is creative thinking skills. It encompasses personality characteristics associated with creativity, the ability to use analogies, as well as the talent to see the familiar in a different light. For instance, the following individual traits have been found to be associated with the development of creative ideas: intelligence, independence, self confidence, risk taking, internal locus of control, tolerance for ambiguity and perseverance in the face of frustration. The effective use of analogies allows decision makers to apply and resulted in a creative breakthrough was Alexander Graham’s Bell’s observation that it might be possible to take concepts that operate in the ear and apply then to his talking box. He noticed that bone in the ear is operated by a delicate thin membrane. He wondered why, then, a thicker and stronger piece of membrane shouldn’t be able to move a piece of steel. Out of that analogy the telephone was conceived. Of course, some people have developed their skill at being able to see problems in a new way. They’re able to see problem in a new way. They’re able to make the strange familiar and the familiar strange. For instance most of us think of hens laying eggs. But now many of us considered that a hen is only an egg’s way of making another egg?
The final component in our model is intrinsic task motivation – the desire to work on something because it’s interesting, involving exciting satisfying or personally challenging. This motivational component is what turns creative potential into actual creative ideas. It determines the extent to which individuals fully engage their expertise and creative skill. So creative people often love their work to the point of seeming obsessed. Importantly, an individual’s work environment and the organization’s culture can have a significant effect on intrinsic motivation. Specifically five organizational factors have been found that can impede your creativity: (1) expected evaluation – focusing on how your work is going to be evaluated; (2) surveillance – being watched while you’re working; (3) external; motivators emphasizing external, tangible rewards; (4) competition – facing – win – lose situations with your peers; and (5) constrained choices – being given limits on how you can do your work.