Curiosity, Creativity, and Criticism: Why this combination is essential in the Innovation process?

Updated: Oct 9, 2020

I often think, what's the strongest driving force that wheels one towards the journey of innovation? Every time, creativity comes as a quick answer to me. However, while creativity is often given its due credit in the innovation process, we generally lag in recognizing curiosity and criticism as an inherent part of the whole process. Let's have a look at both these concepts in detail.

Creative ideas are often a result of one's curious mind and its ability to look beyond the status quo. Time and again, researchers have backed the fact that there are innumerable individuals working in varying organizations whose creative potential remains untapped or unharnessed all their lives. Though, this doesn't mean they aren't curious enough. Every employee of a company is a creative contributor. It's just the widening of the aperture that is required by the companies to realize the curiosity and creativity residing inside every individual.

However, most companies wrap themselves around the fear that the exercise might not lead to productive and fruitful results, or spend the company's resources and time unnecessarily, simply because that's not the part of their daily routine. There is a high possibility that they engulf themselves around the idea that the exercise would largely benefit those who are "smart" and think out-of-the-box, thus deriding the rest of others any agency in the process. Simply putting, this might be a concern but not an excuse to not embroider a culture of creative and critical thinking in any organization.

Undoubtedly, people might well up with tears when their creative ideas are either criticized or even worse, blatantly rejected. To help us overcome the same fear and the sense of being judged or feel humiliated, Roberto Verganti, professor of leadership and innovation, and Don Norman, professor, and director of the Design Lab at the University of California enlighten us with a few simple guidelines when the intention is to impart constructive criticism to an individual or a team. They advocate the rule of “Yes, but, and” instead of just using terms like "Yes, but" or "Yes, and" alone.

According to them, it's important to tap into one's creative mind as deeply as possible and then address the weakness in other's ideas. Simply saying a bunch of unexplanatory words, "this isn't good" or "this won't work" just never helps. Besides, it also lacks a dose of discipline. One needs to explain the problem first and then propose a rephrased or improved idea.

The points of criticism must be positive, helpful, and above all, put forthwith dignity intact. In addition, those who are at the receiving end of criticism must make use of other's experiences, knowledge, and ideas to learn and improve theirs. You got to stay curious, remember?

When we combine all three factors: curiosity, creativity, and criticism, the birth of great innovation processes is inevitable. Ideas are never implemented in just one go. If the ideas have to be successful to blossom a full-grown business out of them, the process will require patience and its due time. Till then, you have got to keep your spirit of curiosity, creativity, and criticism alive because they are the essence of innovation.

Udisha Srivastav is currently working as a Content Manager with MakeShift.

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