Developing the Innovative Capacity of
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Assess: Individual, team, and organisational assessment begins with the Creatrix Inventory. Richard E. Byrd, Ph.D., developed the Creatrix Inventory over thirty years ago. Since then it has been used over 60,000 times throughout the world. It was recently renormed in 1996, and again in 2000 by Jacqueline Byrd, Ph.D. This reliable and valid instrument measures an individual’s level of creativity and risk-taking, and ultimately innovative capacity.
Innovative companies know how to capitalise on their creative and risk-taking employees to create innovative environments. The Creatrix Inventory is designed to help people identify their levels of creativity (the degree to which they can produce unconventional ideas) as well as their orientations toward risk taking (high, moderate, or low). An entire organisation can be profiled in terms of its capacity to be creative, take risks, and innovate.
Creativity may be defined as the ability to produce new ideas. Those ideas may be as mundane as turning eggshells into little faces or as sublime as Athelstan Spilhaus’ floating cities in the Atlantic Ocean. They may be as practical as the saltshaker or as absurd as an alphabet with an astronomical number of letters.
When asked “Are you creative?” many people answer, “no”. Some of these negative answers are correct, but most of them are wrong. Unfortunately, people are most often in situations that demand repetition rather than creativity, conformity rather than diversity. If their actions are unconventional, other people may be suspicious of them or view them as unpredictable.
Restrictions on experimenting with new ideas are imposed on most people from early childhood. Children are instructed to keep within the lines of the colouring book, and doodling is discouraged. Creating fanciful stories is interpreted as lying, and pretending is tolerated only until a child is a certain age—then it becomes embarrassing. Being out of line—the line to the dining hall/ cafeteria, the toilets, the water fountain, or the playground—is considered bad behavior.
Adults on the job are also caught in a variety of binds. Management may want coordination, implementation, and follow-through performed in the same old way, or the amount of creativity desired may be unclear.
Creativity is measured by originality. In fact, about the only criterion for creativity that researchers agree exists is originality. A small percentage of people live in a phantasmagoric world of wildly imaginative ideas; others are at the opposite extremes—out of touch with daydreams. Most people, however, lie between the two extremes.
“Genius” seems to be the only word available to describe the truly creative thinker. The word used to distinguish an Einstein from a bright quiz-show participant. Unfortunately—because the word is also used to refer to a person with a high I.Q.—people often assume that creativity and intelligence are related. There is little evidence to support that assumption. Many people with only average intelligence have original ideas, and some of the brightest people seldom have original thoughts. Although I.Q. may be an accurate predictor of success in school and on certain types of jobs, it provides no guarantee about a person’s ability to make a unique contribution to any field of work. However, just as I.Q. is distributed on a normal curve, so is unconventional thinking. Some people are extremely unconventional, some are extremely conventional, and most lie somewhere in between.
About Risk Taking:
Creativity in an organisation involves risk taking. Management often claims it wants employees to be creative, but usually it does not welcome the associated risks. In order to present new ideas, the creative person must sometimes be the risk taker. Risk taking may mean that a person tenaciously pushes his or her ideas onto someone else—an employer, a colleague, a department—at some risk to the creator’s security, career, reputation, or self-esteem.
Although risk taking is not a trait (i.e., it results from a person’s fear of failure, fear of rejection, the cost-benefit factors of a situation, etc.), everyone develops an unmistakable risk orientation over the years. That orientation (high, moderate, or low) may change during different periods in the person’s life. The organisation’s response (e.g., supportive, punitive, conservative, or aggressive) will also affect the member’s risk-taking orientation.
When people determine their own orientations, they can predict their own responses to different situations. Being aware of their employers’ responses will also help employees to predict how the employers will react to specific proposals. This knowledge permits better management of risk for all concerned.
Risk takers also appear on a normal curve. Those who take all their cues from the organisation or others, make up roughly 16 percent. Those who take their cues only from themselves, make up another 16 percent. The other 68 percent fall between the extremes. Most people take cues, to varying degrees, from the environment and their own convictions, needs, and interests.
What Is Your Creativity And Risk-Taking Orientation?
Measuring the creative sense and risk-taking orientation of individuals in organisations helps to explain why one organisation stagnates and dies, another takes excessive risks and lands in bankruptcy, and yet others are moderately to extremely successful.
As the Creatrix Inventory suggests, your creativity and risk-taking orientation can be plotted on a matrix. The vertical scale designates the degree to which you are generally a low, moderate, or high risk taker. The horizontal scale designates the degree of your creative abilities. The Creatrix Inventory is further divided into eight zones, each representing a creativity/risk-taking orientation. Although there are shades between the orientations—matters of degree—only the eight “pure” orientations will be described here to provide contrast, illustrations, and clarity.
The four orientations in the corners represent people who rank either extremely high or extremely low on creativity or risk taking. When the extreme types become more socialised, Sustainers (low creativity, low risk taking) may become Modifiers; Challengers (low creativity, high risk taking), Practicalizers; Innovators (high creativity, high risk taking), Synthesizers; and Dreamers (high creativity, low risk taking), Planners.
Assessing where you are
The Creatrix inventory and profile can help to assess you, your team’s and your organisations strengths. The assessing stage is an important part in any organisational development process.
To find out how you can use the Creatrix™ in your organisation or with your clients email us or phone on 0208 230 0980 (or 0870 7669651)