Innovate from Within Through the Creative Process Model

By: Cindy Carleton, Manager, Brand Strategy & Creative Services, Valassis
Published Thursday, May 25, 2017

Innovate from Within Through the Creative Process Model

How do we go about creating a culture of creativity and innovation? It’s a concern that’s been in boardrooms across the world for some time now. Many companies are making great strides – but also raising new questions: “We now have this great culture, so why aren’t we innovating?” “How do we get everyone to look for new ways to improve and innovate?” Even with a culture that supports, prioritizes, motivates and rewards innovative thinking, there is the necessity to teach and support the creative process, and to capture the ideas of your enterprise and turn them into strategic deliverables.

“Creatives” use a distinct set of processes when developing an idea and bringing it to life. Innate or learned, these skills and processes can be used to your company’s advantage. With the right type of support at each step, the Creative Process Model can be a great tool for organizations to harness and use to create tangible opportunities from within. Here’s a look at the model along with recommendations for the type of support that can be effective each step of the way:

1. Identification - Curiosity is the real mother of invention. An individual encounters a problem and becomes curious and challenged. It is during this stage where ideas formulate.

Organizations should provide resources and a list of go-to-people for research. Access to training on brainstorming techniques can also be beneficial in helping your workforce organize thoughts and create goals.

2. Incubation - This “mulling over” stage is, unfortunately, where many good ideas end. The individual starts to process the ideas, combine thoughts and develop a solution.

An engaged leader or mentor is key to this crucial stage to provide constructive feedback, encouragement and continued development.

3. Illumination - As ideas begin to mature, the individual realizes how to piece the thoughts together in a manner that makes sense. This moment of illumination can happen at any time, anywhere.

Innovative organizations provide the time and environment to explore cultures, events and businesses outside of their industry. Researchers have scientifically shown that play and humor can help people break out of perceptual frames of what is normal and acceptable and facilitate discovery of unique associations.

4. Evaluation - Allowing the time to let it marinate and determine whether the idea is worth continuing is essential.

Employees may need assistance in quantifying the solution or guidance in aligning it to the business plan. It would be beneficial for leaders to provide the expertise and process for employees to easily gather information and justifications they might not have knowledge of, or access to in their normal activities.

5. Implementation - Implementation of an idea in the creative process model begins the process of transforming thoughts into a final product. For example, an idea on a potential new market may necessitate discussions on reach, product development and resource or process needs.

This is where and when expertise and process shine. Company leaders, subject matter experts and innovation departments have the knowledge and accountability for development and testing of the qualified ideas. In order to continually motivate the workforce, organizations would be wise to include the originator through ongoing feedback (both positive and negative), on the implementation progress. And absolutely recognize and acknowledge the value to the company of continued risk and idea generation.

A supportive culture and the Creative Process Model are the dynamic duo of innovation. Together they provide the leadership, environment, knowledge and process necessary for organizations to innovate from within. Ideas are everywhere. But without organizational support at each step of the creative process they remain just ideas. Take a lead from Pablo Picasso ¬– “I begin with an idea, and then it becomes something else.”

Build a support structure around the Creative Process Model and turn great ideas into something else – tangible, strategic innovations.