Adobe and consultancy StrategyOne have released an international creativity study, the State of Create Global Benchmark. Before we get to their conclusions, I have two quick caveats. One, yes, I'm late to party on this one. Mea culpa. Two, I have some concerns about their methodology. Specifically, the report offers little information about their methodology, and the some of the phrasing slants in one direction. Together, these two facts make me question the report's objectivity. Regardless, I always welcome new research on creativity and innovation, so I'm pleased to read this report.
Their summary of drivers of and barriers to creativity includes two statements that I agree are bang on:
1. "People need more time, training and an environment where they can think creatively."
2. "A majority of people prefer to create by themselves."
Yes, absolutely, on both counts. Creative thinking is hard work, and it requires a specific time and place where the thinker can concentrate. It's important to take time out from one's everyday routine in order to think creatively.
As the benchmark notes, innovation also requires training. It's insufficient to say, "Okay, team, today we're going to think out of the box! I want 50 new ideas!" That's all well and fine, but innovation requires snapping the brain out of its habitual thought patterns. There are many techniques for accomplishing this - we, of course, are particularly fond of Six Thinking Hats and Lateral Thinking - but the specific methodology is less important than getting participants' brains out of their comfort zones.
The second point also illustrates the importance of allowing time and space for individual thinking. Particularly in a group setting - such as stereotypical office brainstorming sessions - people nonetheless do their best thinking by themselves. The most effective ideation meetings include time for individual thinking as well as group feedback and analysis.