What's the difference between creativity and innovation?

Creativity is the act of devising something new, original or perhaps unusual. It could be an idea, a process or procedure.

Innovation is the implementation of that new idea, process or procedure.

You come up with new ideas by tapping into your creativity. However, there is no innovation until one or more of those ideas is put into action. Innovation is not always a product either; it can be a process, a partnership, a method or model.

Here are seven strategies you can employ in your workplace to foster creativity and innovation.

1) Support creativity

Creativity has to be supported at all levels in an organisation for it to become the norm. If an employee thinks that a creative approach may not be supported, he will be unwilling to take risks, suggest ideas or make changes. As a leader or manager, you must show your staff that you are receptive to their ideas, support a creative approach and encourage innovation.


2) Foster diversity

We live in a multicultural environment, with people from different cultural backgrounds, who have different levels of experience, qualifications and outlooks, working together.

Teamwork forms a common bond and goals, which create a harmonious working environment, but the downside is that it may also stifle creativity. There may be little room for new ideas, process or product improvement. Encourage staff to take on different roles or assignments and get them to volunteer for projects or company events.


3) Positive environment

Creating a positive supportive environment can spur productivity and, more importantly, creativity. A positive environment gives staff more flexibility in their thinking and enables their perspective to be widened. Broader perspectives help them to explore more alternatives and invite more creativity and innovation into the challenge or issue. 

Compliment staff regularly, appreciate their success and encourage them for making a good effort to foster positivity.


4) Room to experiment

Employee think tanks can create a culture of experimentation. These think tanks can examine, for example, scenarios where mistakes are made in the organisation’s operations and come up with new ideas on how to improve work processes. They may not always have the answers but remember, you are searching for creative approaches here. Deadlines can be set and outstanding ideas can be rewarded.


5) Reward creativity

The best motivation for some employees is the promise of reward. If you reward creativity, these employees may suddenly become more creative.

This works better for some employees than others. The interesting fact here is that creativity can be a learned process and given the right environment, tools and atmosphere, with the right people, creativity will flourish.

To get the process rolling, set some goals around a particular topic, perhaps a work process. Instruct each staff member to develop one suggestion or idea by the end of the week to be submitted for assessment or approval.


6) Respect confidentiality

Some staff members are too shy to offer suggestions and ideas.  They may be introverts and may not be comfortable voicing their opinions, stating radical ideas or challenging authority. Perhaps you have to create a safe process for these people to participate in the creative process.

One such process is a staff suggestion box. This allows those who may not be outspoken to also make contributions.


7) Have fun at work

A stressful or depressing work environment may create a culture of compliance, where things are done in the same way, day in day out.

Having fun at work is critical for success in so many ways, including team harmony, cohesion and creativity. A fun outlook creates a creative outlook. Having fun during the creative process energises some and relaxes others, providing the correct foil to get things done.

Article by Lindsay Adams, international speaker with Training Edge International and 2009 – 2010 International President of the Global Speakers Federation. He is conducting a two-day workshop on “From Creativity to Innovation” on May 29 and  30. For more information, e-mail enquiries@trainingedgeasia.com, call 6336-5804 or visit www.trainingedgeasia.com