Monday, August 1, 2011

A Measure of Creativity

Measure what is measurable, and make measurable what is not so. Galileo Galilei

Is your organization creative?  Should your organization be creative?  How do you change your organization's level of creativity?  Does creativity equal more new products and processes?  August is dedicated to answering these questions.

Here's some non-peer reviewed research to help.  It was inspired by the much better research of Teresa Amabile and with the same conclusions.

Over the years I've taught a graduate course in creativity six times.  The three day course always started with the dozen or so students working together for a few hours to define creativity and then to come up with ways that I could remember each of their names.

I would then ask the group the following questions, giving them however long it took to come to consensus without interrupting them (which they always did in less than 15 minutes):

Are some people more creative than others?  consensus was always yes, but always a few people who went along with the consensus just to keep the program moving.

How do you measure creativity?  answer was always you can't, anyone who argued otherwise would quickly concede that they had no idea how to do so.

Well, how do you know some people are more creative than others if you can't measure it? always confusion followed by arguments followed by me demonstrating the answer to them in the following manner.

I asked them to write on a piece of paper, without further discussion with the rest of the group, a forced ranking of each student from highest to lowest creativity (force rank meaning no ties). The results of this forced ranking were consistent in every class.  There was 80+% correlation on the order of the list and those at the top and bottom never received any 'votes' to be elsewhere on the list.

I then sent them each to an online Creativity Assessment.  Their scores on the creativity assessment always correlated highly with their forced ranking.

The lesson of this story is that some people are more creative than others, we're all good judges of who is more creative and if you want to be analytical about it, you can measure creativity.

So is your organization creative? it could BE different.

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