Terry K Gilliam Innovation Consulting Complex Challenges Synectics

Terry K. Gilliam, Chairman Synecticsworld

By Terry K. Gilliam

“I think about 40 percent of people just are not going to be good at innovating regardless of what they do. And 5 percent are born with the instinct. There are things that they do and ways that they think that are intuitive.”

In my previous blog Creativity Lost, I addressed why this is a misperception of people’s creative capacity.

At Synecticsworld we have learned that there are methods, techniques to help people get back in touch with the creativity that we all have from nativity. There is nothing mystical about it; the essence of creativity is making new connections. If we carry this over into creative problem solving or innovation, then it becomes making new connections within the context of a problem or opportunity for which answers haven’t yet been discovered and therefore it won’t yield to analytical thought.

There can’t be a right or wrong answer when there is no known answer. You can’t get to quantum physics from Newtonian physics, for example. You’ve got to make new connections in order to create new frameworks, so my headline on the idea that only 5% of us are innovative is that unless people cannot make new connections between two or more things within the context of a problem or an opportunity, there is no one who is not creative.

Put more positively, we find that everybody can make new connections given the right climate, the right tools, and the right process with which to apply these tools.  Everybody is capable of making fresh connections among things that have not been previously connected within the context of a particular problem or opportunity and therefore everybody is not only able but very good at being creative. We are all connection-making machines in the experience of Synecticsworld and when we get back in touch with that machinery and get it oiled up, we are astonishingly good at using it.

I don’t want to be in any way punishing to Clay Christensen; he just has this dead wrong. Because everyone is creative, everyone can be innovative. This is the central point with regard to what Clay has written. Questioning is a very good strategy when what you are up to is analytical problem solving, because the more information you have the more you have to factor into your analysis and the more likely you are to arrive at the “right” conclusion. But when we are operating in the realm of creativity and innovation, where there are no known solutions, we must invent them. For invention, guessing is a better strategy than questioning.

Our research demonstrates conclusively that we are all capable of making fresh connections and therefore we are all capable of being creative. A good working definition of innovation is creativity that gets put to work. It gets shipped, it gets built, it gets scored at the Olympics, it gets painted onto a canvas. It logically follows that everybody is innovative, or at least capable of being innovative.

The mission of Synecticsworld is to work with organizations who believe as we do, that their own people have the power, the innate ability to solve even their most complex challenges and issues, and to address the most complex opportunities within their organizations.
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