Creativity: The Secret Weapon of Businesses

June 27, 2024 | Gabrielle Walravens
2 min


Marie-Claude Gaudet, CRHA and Assistant Professor in the Department of Human Resource Management at HEC Montréal, defines creativity as a worker’s ability to generate or conceive original and valuable ideas for their team or organization. It’s about doing things differently to do them better.

However, how many entrepreneurs and managers truly leverage their employees’ creative potential? Being creative in one’s comfort zone is often tricky, as routine and preexisting thought patterns limit imagination.

Indeed, an idea develops in four stages:

  1. The conscious orientation of a problem is where one identifies and thinks about the problem.
  2. Incubation is when you intensely think about the problem and consider possible solutions.
  3. Illumination, where you exclaim, “Eureka!”
  4. The verification of the idea’s validity.

The incubation period is the most laborious. It is beneficial to take a step back and step out of your comfort zone to see things differently. As Einstein aptly said :

“I think a hundred times and find nothing. I stop thinking, swim in silence, and the truth comes to me.”

Our existing knowledge can sometimes act as a veil, obscuring new creative possibilities.

An associate professor and coordinator of the Business Creativity and Innovation Practices course at HEC Montréal, illustrates this concept with the story of a friend who, visiting Montréal for the first time, was moved to tears upon seeing the snow. The reason? He had always imagined snowflakes making a sound when falling to the ground. However, he noticed the silence once he left the airport, a unique experience for him. For snowy region residents, the silence of snow is mundane, and they don’t even notice it. This example vividly illustrates how our knowledge of the world can sometimes limit our creative thinking. Thus, it’s often by stepping out of our comfort zones and exploring the unknown that new ideas emerge.

So, how can we cultivate creativity?

First, we should put ourselves in an unprecedented position and show empathy. Not all ideas will be good, but the important thing is to bring a continuous flow of ideas. Putting yourself in an unprecedented position can consist of following the same path as the client. Some things can only be truly understood through experience. An example illustrating this is a team at Sainte-Justine Hospital who decided to go through the pre-surgery preparation process that children experience. As a result of this experience, they painted the ceilings along the route to the operating room, a small gesture that they could not have imagined without experiencing the journey themselves.

Moreover, concrete methods have been proven to enhance creativity. “Studies have shown that people’s capacity for divergent thinking and creativity can be improved through training, specifically through simulations, practical exercises, and group idea sharing.” Indeed, ideas only have value when they are shared. Cocreation workshops, for instance, create a learning environment and an open space for new ideas. Design Thinking is another effective method. “In addition to providing teams with resources and tools, they must also be given the right to make mistakes and encouraged to take risks,” a practice not always encouraged by all organizations, as noted by Pierre Lainey, a Lecturer in the Department of Management at HEC Montréal.

Do you want to encourage creativity within your company to foster growth? Let’s talk! Our facilitators master the art of asking the right questions at the right time and creating an open and collaborative dialogue space by facilitating cocreation workshops.

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