Want More Innovation? Try Developing Critical Thinking and Creativity.March 10, 2013
Successful innovation has become the proverbial Holy Grail for many organizations seeking to stay ahead of their competition. It is the answer for problems ranging from flat revenue to stodgy product design to a lackluster cafeteria menu. The “I” word permeates conversations from the water cooler to the board room because it offers hope for keeping pace and staying afloat in a rapidly changing world.
Deciding to increase innovation within your organization is easy. Deciding how is the more interesting question. Creating processes that support innovation is a necessary step because innovative companies are built on a culture, an infrastructure that supports those efforts. Developing employees who can innovate is another necessary step, and this is where critical thinking and creativity development come into play.
Innovation is a bridge to success supported by critical thinking and creativity. Sometimes people assume that critical thinking and creativity are polar opposites, a left brain versus right brain division, but that is not correct. They are siblings rather than strangers. Research shows that critical thinking and creativity are related (r = .30), primarily because both share the ability to:
- Suspend judgment
- Question assumptions
- Engage in both divergent and convergent thinking
- Use motivation, emotions and cognitive processes in concert
Critical thinking training is probably the best place to start when developing employees’ innovation skills because they learn how to evaluate assumptions (theirs and others) and information to arrive at quality judgments. They learn a process and once they do, it is easier to move into creativity where the goal is to generate novel and adaptive ideas, which ultimately, need to be evaluated in order to reach a useful outcome.
Instilling critical thinking and creativity early and often creates a capable workforce, one that is more prepared to benefit from the processes and systems designed to foster and support innovation. If your organization wants more innovative ideas that lead to outcomes that create value, try developing critical thinking and creativity skills. These will give strength and support to your innovation programs.