Innovativeness is the key while creativity is easier to teach

If innovativeness is important for your business, your financial results would be better if you train creativity (to your upper and middle level management and experts, and almost NEVER to anybody else) and do not train innovativeness. Why so? Because innovativeness is difficult to train while creativity trainigs are easy, effective and increase innovativeness better than if you would try to teach innovativeness at the first place. You do not believe me?

I have a little theory for you: creativity is at its top when you are 10 to 30 years old, before that imagination is on its top, and after that innovativeness is at its top. It goes like a wave – the same energy in different forms, see the picture below. And, of course, the wave often gets weaker and weaker due to various reasons in life. Thus when you are 40, it is not unlikely that your creativity skills are already weak while innovativeness might be still good. The problem is that innovativeness goes down pretty fast if creativity skills weaken. Of course, I am exaggerating and generalizing beyond any limits, but try to see my approach here.


Let’s go through the main notions, to check if we are on the same page:

Imagination here has no goal outside of its own, no purpose and not even much to measure. Pure fun, wildly pointless (as pointless as life :). Creativity is a skill related to generating applicable ideas/solutions and choosing the best ones for a situation where no (best) solution was apparent – it may be called “applied imagination” to some extent. Innovativeness is about picking up promising idea and making it a financially viable and sustainable reality – it is than “applied creativity”. Sustainable profit and focus on business-how-it-was-always-ran is a later stage (something around 45 to 100 years old high level management) and it is “applied innovativeness”, meaning applied business ideas and methods which ones were new.

To teach imagination to 5-10 years old kids is almost as stupid, as to teach fish how to swim, isn’t it? By the same logic, it is almost pointless to teach creativity to 10-25 years old, right? Wrong. It makes sense, as creativity includes not only get-new-ideas skills but also choose-the-best-ones skills. And even in the first part we need to counteract (correcting the damage made by) schools and higher education institutions in that. The second part (to choose) is calling for teaching even more.

An important thing here is that, from almost any potential employer’s point of view, creativity as a skill is useless in this age – it is even additional pain in the rear, as most of the young employees are expected to learn the establish procedures and to follow them. They know very little of how the things are actually run (so, why bother asking for their opinion? :)

Once again: it is a very understandable position of (an) employer who says: “If I teach creativity to my lower level personnel, I create problems for myself where there were none…”

When you are about 30 to 45, your creative energy (what is left from it) is likely to take form of innovativeness: you spend your time on ideas which have future. And those ideas are (expected to be) the ones which drive the immediate economic growth. Once again: creativity is almost useless for a “real business”, while innovativeness is immensely important. Would it mean there is no point teaching creativity? On the contrary!

Your financial result will be the best if you teach creativity to your upper and middle level management:

  1. Your middle level management (some 25 to 40 years old on average) is still capable of learning new things (perceptive about new things, not blocking new skills by an overgrown ego).
  2. It is far easier to teach creativity compared to innovativeness – it brings faster and better results on the level of middle managers and key experts. Middle level management is often better-than-average in innovativeness at the first place – so creativity trainings would set a good basis under already present innovativeness, supporting it and nourishing it.
  3. It is important to put your upper level management through those trainings as well – not to teach anything really but to set an atmosphere of acceptance for new ideas.
  4. By the same reason it is important to involve most (at best all) your upper and middle level personnel into it. The atmosphere is your tool to get results way after the training program is over.
  5. At best, it is important to repeat the trainings once in a while.

There might be exceptions: you may like the idea of getting your lower level personnel through the trainings, or some parts of the most critical business units – it depends e.g. a bit on the existing managerial style and a lot on the nature of the business. So, do not hesitate to ask for more details,, I’ll be glad to discuss it further.

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