Business Innovation And Creativity: Truths And Myths With Dr Marc Stierand

Opinion Article29 June 2021Marc Stierand (Director of the Institute of Business Creativity, IBC) is an Associate Professor at EHL. He takes us on a stimulating journey about the topic of creativity in business. What does business innovation and creativity actually mean? How does it differ from innovation? And how can companies encourage it to happen?AdvertisementsWhat is creativity in business?The art world is not a social place. It is creative from a developmental perspective. This is because it is internal and doesn't have to produce any useful output. This is not the case in business. We see creativity as the most important input to innovation. It is the acceptance by the society of a creative idea. Business creativity refers to creative ideas that are innovative, useful, relevant, or valuable in any form. While the individual creator is important, there are many other aspects to business creativity.Sometimes, art and business can overlap. This is the case with haute cuisine. One could argue that haute cuisine in a Michelin-starred restaurant is a wasteful luxury and not food that keeps you alive. This would be like comparing apples and pears. What is more creative: Ferran Adrias Melon Caviar or a cure for Cancer? Everyone would agree that the cure of cancer is more valuable and more important. However, Ferran Adrias Melon Caviar is appropriate and creative in haute cooking because it appeals to all senses. This is what consumers seek when dining in Michelin-starred restaurants. It is impossible to compare the two.How important is creativity in the business world?This fundamental question is easy to misunderstand because people often associate creativity with innovation. It is important to remember that innovation and creativity are two different things. Should every business care about creativity? They should. All businesses should be innovators. Many businesses shouldn't. What does this mean for businesses? Businesses should avoid becoming innovators when focusing on innovation as a strategic goal. It is costly and often extremely risky. This means that you might not want to invest all of your creativity in creating innovative products and services. As an entrepreneur, however, you must also be able to use your creativity in all areas of business, including people management, marketing, and communication.Although you can still sell traditional brasserie foods, this shouldn't stop you from being creative about how you market it. Sometimes you don't even need to invent the wheel. Instead, look around for creative ideas and then translate them into your business. Picasso said, "Good artists copy great artists with their eyes and ears."Is there a way to get employees more creative?This is a crucial question for business and probably the most important: How can we be more creative? How can we inspire others to be more creative? This is a difficult question to answer, despite the fact that businesses would like it to be. There is no way to make people more creative immediately. There are many ways to go against the grain. These can help people move beyond the accepted frameworks of thinking, believing, and feeling. This is not enough. The environment must be open to creativity. They must then accept that the environment they create should be managed by them and not the creative people.Organizations are known for their ability to kill creativity, particularly if they are large and established. These organizations have many reasons, but they tend to adopt a defensive strategy because they have much to lose and so are able to defend themselves. Anyone trying to shake up an organization, whether they are inside or outside, may run into a brick wall, no matter how good their intentions might be and how positive the outcome for the organization might be. Bricks can be made from old habits, new procedures and performance indicators that only capture system compliance. These organizations believe that more compliance equals higher performance. Because their ideas and values drive them, the most creative people tend to be the least compliant. They cannot be expected to conform to the values set by organizations.What can companies do to boost creativity?Creativity is about wandering in the unknown, asking "What if?" Charalampos Mainemelis (IBC Associate) is Director of the SEV Center of Excellence in Creative Leadership. He is also Professor of Organizational Behavior at ALBA Graduate Business School. We asked in a paper we presented at the Academy of Management Annual meeting "What if play was the core motivation of work?" For creativity to thrive and stay, play and playfulness are crucial. They can be frightening for companies with a solemn culture. Many organizations look too much like Buckingham Palace, but not enough like Hogwarts. They're impressive, but they have lost their magic.These role models can come from smaller, more entrepreneurial businesses. Ferran Adria, a famous chef, created ElTaller' to help him create new dishes, experiences, and techniques. ElTaller would have a wide range of spices, machinery, tools and ingredients. The team would then play with these items. They were serious, but they had fun. By involving all senses, playing gets creative juices flowing. Creativity is not a pure intellectual activity. It's sensory and intuitive. Even in abstract areas like mathematics or when things seem out of reach, such astrophysics, it is true. To be able imagine, you must smell freshly cut ginger and see the blossoms.What can we do to think outside of the box?This is the paradoxical, yet fascinating side of creativity. You must be knowledgeable about the field in order to create something new and useful. This means you must be part of the knowledge tradition, which Wittgenstein calls the knowledge heritage. Creativity is not about following the traditions. It often means breaking with the past. How can we do both? How do we be able to both know everything and not reinvent the wheel while simultaneously ignoring some aspects of this same tradition in order to create new knowledge.Viktor Drfler, an IBC Associate and friend, is a specialist in human mastery, AI and he jokes about it with his MBA students. He asks them, "I am a creative man." He asks them if they would like him to be creative in their eye surgery. However, the majority of his students would agree that Viktor is creative. He suggested recently that AI could be a useful tool in helping us to think outside of the box, and not be bound by the knowledge traditions.How does business creativity work? The IBC believes that every business should engage in creativity. But not all businesses should be focusing on an innovation strategy. Companies don't have to create innovative products and services. Instead, they should be creative about how their business works, including people management and marketing. There is no way to make people more creative immediately. However, the IBC can bring some Hogwarts magic to companies. We can create an environment and management culture which encourages managers, employees, and directors to think, believe, and feel differently than the ones that are currently in place.Marc Stierand, Director of the Institute of Business Creativity and Associate Professor at EHL is also a former chef de haute cuisine and one of the most prominent business creativity researchers in the country. Dr. Stierand is the founder of the IBC, EHL's oldest-serving institute that prides itself in thinking outside the box. The IBC is a transdisciplinary hub which aims to provide knowledge and research that can be applied to practice. It offers first-class research that is informed by industry experience and creative attitudes towards outcomes.