CEO of the New Zealand Institute of Management and Leadership.
The power of flight is still something that I am in awe of; even after hundreds of flights around the globe I still see aviation as one of the greatest achievements of our lifetime. An interesting question I was recently asked was “do I see flight as creativity or innovation?”
If creativity is doing the same thing you’ve always done in a slightly new way, and innovation is doing something you didn’t know existed yesterday, then I would have to say creativity led Orville and Wilbur Wright to inventing, building and flying the world’s first successful aeroplane.
The innovation of flight came well before 1903: people jumping off towers with bird-like wings strapped to their backs in the hope of staying off the ground, kites and hot air balloons.
All this demonstrated to the Wright brothers that something could defy gravity and fly. So, is innovation a word of our generation and as business leaders should we be challenging ourselves and our staff to be more creative?
Every organisation could gain immediate traction by making small improvements to the things they already do well. Just take a look at our Olympic athletes; they strive to gain a one percent increase which can be the difference between winning and not placing at all.
Most people are more creative than they give themselves credit for and given the time and opportunity to share ideas and insights, they often flourish. When someone is passionate and knowledgeable about a task or topic, they see new opportunities or a fresh way of doing something.
There is huge potential for us all to explore the “why didn’t we think of that before” moment in our working day. Many of us will underestimate an idea, believing that it’s too simple to be important.
In my view creativity in our organisations will be the difference between jumping off a building with wings strapped to our back and travelling from London to New York on an Airbus A380. Encouraging your team to think differently and building creativity in the workplace is easier than you think and can be achieved in a number of ways:
- Giving people time to explore their simple daily tasks
- Constantly questioning yourself and your work practices
- Encouraging group thinking
- Acknowledging that not every idea will work
- Investing in education.
Creativity costs far less than innovation, it doesn’t always demand an increase in capability or resources and it builds great culture. You don’t need to be the next Wright brothers to turn something simple into something amazing.