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Creativity Comments by Winston J. Brill, Ph.D.

11/03 Creativity Comment

How Do We Decide Who is Most Creative?

Many companies make “creativity” a criterion to measure the value of an employee.  How does one decide who is most creative?  Should it be based on the number of ideas submitted?  As I’ve previously claimed, the number of ideas on a specific problem bears little (or no) correlation with the number of quality ideas. 

Should it be based on the best idea the person had in the past 12 months?  This creates problems because a great idea may take more than a year to be defined as great.  By then, the great idea will have slipped by the deadline for credit, or its origin may even have been forgotten.  Also, great ideas never arise on schedule.  So that someone who had a super-great idea two years ago may not have another super-great one for the next four years.  If that person is ignored as a potential terrific contributor, he/she may lose interest and not think of, or submit, that super-great idea four years later. 

If only the few super-great ideas are recognized, will that cause less interest in employees coming up with mediocre-great ideas?  That will cause a problem since, many times, it is those mediocre-great ideas that make a big difference in a company’s innovative successes.  It is this interest—enthusiasm—that really drives great (super-great and mediocre-great) ideas.  Therefore, look at your reward systems and ask if they encourage enthusiasm for work goals.  If not, change the way you reward employees for you will be working against creativity and corporate innovation.  Trying to reward creativity will not stimulate creativity.  Trying to reward enthusiasm for work goals will stimulate creativity.       

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