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In a world always in search of novelty, creativity is a major axis of development. There are many stimulation tools, but other levers are also sources of creativity.


Creativity is considered to be a critical factor in enabling the organization to respond to market opportunities, grow, participate actively in international competition and eventually create a competitive advantage2.

The role of managers is focused on encouraging and developing creativity. Managers must become creative, subtly manage creative thinking and consider it as a financial value 3.4. Thus, faced with competitive environments “the development of service products and creative systems becomes a vital task of management »5.

However, and despite the growing assertion of creativity in the business world, organizations are seeing the difficulty of understanding creativity: “ Creativity within work organizations is much more often broken than encouraged. »6.

The 6 approaches to creativity

The studies on creativity and innovation are particularly numerous and varied. Some scientific journals are even devoted exclusively to it, such as the Journal of Creative Behavior, Creative Research Journal Gifted Child Quarterly or Journal of Mental Imaginary There are six approaches to creativity7:

  • Mystic : she considers that creativity is linked to supernatural forces and that it produces in the individual an inspiration.
  • Pragmatic :despite its lack of theoretical support, it offers practical tools to develop creative capabilities.
  • Psychodynamics : Creation is the result of a tension between conscious and unconscious. It expresses itself through dreams and slip-ups.
  • Psychometric : it aims to measure the creativity of individuals.
  • Cognitive : it aims to understand the processes underlying creative thinking
  • Socio-affective : questions the role of personality, motivation and socio-cultural environment of the creative individual.

Creativity and innovation

Creativity corresponds to the initiation stage 8 where all activities aiming at problem perception (place of dissatisfaction), gathering information, attitude towards evaluation, training, implementation of resources leading to the decision to be adopted. Some identifies four steps9 :

  1. Preparation : The internal information (experience and individual sensitivity of the individual) and external information (provided by the environment) are collected.
  2. Incubation : Unconsciously implementing associations of ideas.
  3. Illumination : Ideas appear to consciousness.
  4. Verification : it confronts ideas with reality and selects them.

In the wake of the emergence of ideas, innovation is the stage of implementation, namely “ the whole process of appropriation of ideas, of their initial use, regular use to their institutionalization, creative ideas originally becoming a routine practice of organization” 10. Creativity is part of the innovation process.

The levers of creativity

Source : T. M. Amabile (1998) – How to kill creativity

Creative skill

To be creative, you still need to have the skills. There are two of them which we detail below..

Creative thinking

Creative thinking Soikufu (创意 工夫), is related to how a person approaches problems and solutions, this ability to perform combinations. It is related to the personality, the way the person works and thinks.

Creative thinking refers to the imagination. It is through the imagination that we structure the elements, give them meaning and transform them into reality 11 . This creative thinking can be stimulated by different creative tools that are TRIZ, Brainstorming…

Selective attention

Creativity to solve a problem, find new solutions … relies on our ability to see things differently. But, our brain is formatted and makes us see what surrounds us in a certain way. But is it the right one ?

Below, the exercise of basketball. The instruction is simple: 6 people will make passes with a basketball for about 1 minute. The goal is that you find the number of these passes.

Did you see the gorilla ?

What conclusions ?

This experience highlights the phenomenon of selective attention . When we focus on a certain type of information, our brain has the ability to miss out on other, very visible information.

Another example :

Here is a video used by the British television for an awareness campaign about the dangers of the non-perception of cyclists by motorists.

The knowledge

Knowledge includes the knowledge and know-how of a person in his work, which can come from training, experiences … This ” network of possibility »12 is an intellectual field for exploring and solving problems.

« The more we are crazy, the more we laugh ” An old adage demonstrating the importance of the group in creativity. Scientifically speaking, group creativity is based on everyone’s knowledge. Robert Alstchuller, Russian researcher on creativity (inventor of the method TRIZ), demonstrated this in this knowledge research (table below)).


Degree of inventiveness

% of solutions

Source of knowledge

Approximate number of possible solutions


Apparent solution


Knowledge of an individual



Minor improvement


Company knowledge



Major improvement


Industry knowledge

1 000


New concept


Knowledge of all industries

100 000




Knowledge set

1 000 000

Source : G. Altshuller, 1969, 1973, The innovation algorithm


Motivation is an inconstant element and over which the environment exerts a strong influence. She has 2 facets :

  • Intrinsic: it is related to the pleasure and the personal interest of carrying out a task. We can classify it in a continuum going from the desire to do better to the will to do them differently 13
  • Extrinsic: it is linked to external elements such as the reward, the pressure of failure…

The importance of good communication

Even excellent, an idea poorly presented to an interlocutor likely to support it may never see the light of day. The author of a new idea is enthusiastic while the interlocutor can be restive or suspicious. So, an idea as bright as it is, must be presented correctly to be able to acquire the adhesion.

L’auteur de l’idée doit préparer sa communication14 :

  • Who are my interlocutors? What are his motivations, references, prejudices …? What are their level of skills in the field? What benefit can they derive from being presented to them ?
  • How to formulate the message? Will it be long or short ? Should I use a support? What could be the objections ? 
  • When is the right time to present the message ?
  • Is the originality of the idea highlighted  ?

A little test

Below, a test that will allow us to better understand our logic of thought.

1 : How do you put a giraffe in a fridge? 

Good answer: You open the fridge, put the giraffe in it, and close the fridge.

This question checks if you can see problems in a simple or complex way.

2 : how do you put an elephant in a fridge?

Wrong answer: We open the fridge, put the elephant in and close the fridge.

Good answer: We open the fridge, remove the giraffe, put the elephant in and close the fridge.

This question checks our ability to take past events into account. 

3: The lion king is organizing a big animal conference. All animals are except one. Which ?

Good answer: The elephant. He’s in the fridge. 

This question checks if you have a good memory.

4: We have a river to cross, but you know it is infested with crocodiles. How are you going to do it? 

Correct answer: You swim through it because you know that crocodiles are at the animal conference.

This question verifies the fact that you learn quickly from your mistakes. 

90% of the managers have fake this questionnaire, where 4-year-olds have some good answers. This proves that managers are less logical than a 4-year-old…


1 – G. Johnson (1992) – Managing strategic change strategy, culture and action, Long range planning

2 – R. M. Kanter (1988) – When a thousand flowers bloom: structural, collective, and social conditions for innovation in organization

3 – J. Kao (1997) – The science of creativity

4 – D. T. Oglivie (1998) – Creative action as a dynamic strategy: using imagination to improve strategic solutions in unstable environments

5 – I. Fillis, A. McCauley (2000) – Modelling and measuring creativity at the interface

6 – T. M. Amabile (1998) – How to kill creativity

7 – R. J. Sternberg (2000) – Creativity is a decision, Arlington Heights, IL: Skylight Training and Publishing Inc

8 – T. M. Amabile (1988) – From individual creativity to organizational innovation, from Innovation: A cross-disciplinary perspective

9 – G. Wallas (1926) – Créativité et décision stratégique : la nécessité d’une définition

10 – F. Damapour, W.M. Evan (1984) – Organizational innovation and performance: the problem of organisational lag

11 – A. I. Goldman (1986) – Epistemology and cognition

12 – H. Simon, A. Newell (1972) – Human problem solving

13 – L. Richard (1995) – Adaptors and innovators : styles of creativity and problem solving management decision

14 – F. Vidal (1998) – Méthodes de créativité

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