Why IBM Found Creativity = Business Success

In 2010, IBM published the Global Survey of CEOs 2010 and found that,

“More than rigour, management, discipline, integrity or even vision – successfully navigating an increasingly complex world will require creativity”.

IBM and the more than 1500 CEOs they interviewed from 60 different countries are not alone are in this view. Ernst & Young in their Connecting Innovation to Profit Report, 2010 said,

“The ability to manage, organise, cultivate and nurture creative thinking is directly linked to growth and achievement.”

Why is creativity so important?

Creativity underpins everything we do. It’s hard-wired into our DNA. We can’t help but be creative. Creativity is the ability to solve problems and exploit opportunities. It’s what got us out of the caves and experimenting and discovering. As a species, we have an insatiable desire to make new things, to see what we can do with what we’ve got, to invent and discover, to play with ideas and to see if we can push things to the limit.

Creativity is the raw material of innovation, or in other words, innovation is creativity put into action.

This means that to change and adapt, to invent and develop, to find solutions, to lead well, to get and stay ahead of the pack, to grow and flourish and ultimately to succeed financially, we need creativity. And it follows that the individuals and organisations who can harness their creativity the most will do the best, especially in the post GFC world of constant rapid change.

Creativity applies to everyone.

It’s a myth that only some people are creative, like artists or designers, or that creativity applies to the arts and innovation applies to science or engineering.

We believe and perpetuate these myths to our individual and organisational peril. Everyone left alone on a dessert island would display creativity because they would find that necessity is the mother of invention. They’d look for food, build shelter, cloth themselves in ways they might never have thought of before in order to survive.  They’d use their natural, innate creativity.

Why not get as smart as we can and learn to harness our creativity in business?

During the GFC, in our workplace psychology practice, we noticed that the old ways of doing business, finding staff and operating organisations were fast becoming less relevant. Organisations were “stripping fat”, and cutting back spending on things like recruitment and non-essential training, and looking for new and expedient and cost-effective ways of doing things, and expecting more value for the money they did spend. This attitude seems to have remained.

So we started researching products and theories that would help identify and develop the new imperative to think smart and to change and adapt.

Earlier this year, we discovered that from research at Manchester Business School, a new tool for the workplace had just been developed that identified underlying creativity. If you could assess creativity, and work out in what ways individuals were creative and how they applied their innate creativity, then you could use this information to understand, develop and train individuals and organisations to apply creativity more effectively. Impressively simple idea!

It was what we were looking for, and we knew it was what was so widely needed in the world of business and organisations.

So, we have just launched the new me2 Creativity Diagnostic Tool after a three-month Australian validity study in which we assessed hundreds of people from across the country from many different areas and levels of the workplace. The more we trialled it, the more accuracy we saw, and as a psychology practice, the data really impressed us. Having been used in 41 countries by over 3,500 people so far, it is showing no bias for age, ethnicity or language and the research suggests it is predicting 86% variance for creativity compared to the 3-14% that other tools like Myers-Briggs (MBTI), the Big Five and Hogan Development Survey predict.

The me2 Diagnostic Tool by E-METRIXX is based on years of solid research and development into the psychology of creativity by Dr. Mark Batey and the Psychometrics at Work Research Group from Manchester University. We like it because of the credible research, because it works so well and because it is extremely user friendly.

One of our clients described it the other day as “the sexiest new HR tool” and I think he’s right. It’s very exciting, and also quite humbling, to know that you are introducing a new way of understanding and doing things into the workplace.

Can everyone be creative? You bet!

What has creativity got to do with business? Everything! It underpins innovation, problem-solving, team work and leadership and has unlimited potential to apply to profit as well.

Lynette Jensen

Lynette Jensen is a director and co-founder of Genesys Australia and is committed to helping people achieve work-life balance through good job fit. In addition to contributing to this blog, she also writes regularly for HR Daily Community and Dynamic Business Magazine. Her articles have been re-published in India & the United Kingdom.

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* We were asked to conduct a study on creativity using the me2 Creativity Diagnostic for the forthcoming Creative Innovation 2011 Conference in Melbourne featuring Edward De Bono & sponsored by ANZ, the Financial Review & Business Review Weekly. The report will be published in the conference program and is available on the conference website

NB: We are an independent workplace psychology practice. All views expressed here are our own and are the opinions of Stephen Kohl & his associates, which do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher and developer of GeneSys assessments, Psytech International.

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