College of Entrepreneurial Studies (CES)
Creativity and Innovation
Do you consider yourself creative? Can creativity be developed?
For some people, being creative involves trying not to be embarrassed
by their own ideas; for others, it is a matter of being aware that things
can be done in many different ways. Some are self-aware or confident enough
to have fewer inhibitions and can just let their creative natures work.
Innovation, in a business context, is generally thought of as the product
or application of creativity. Peter F. Drucker suggests that innovation
"is the specific instrument of entrepreneurship."
Mr. Drucker further suggests that there are seven sources of innovative
opportunity. Four of these relate to a specific industry or service sector:
the unexpected; the incongruous; process needs; and
structural change. The other three relate to the human and economic
environment: demographics; changes in perception, mood, and
meaning; and new knowledge.
can see some of these factors at work in our coffee shop example. The
unexpected factor in the recent success of gourmet coffee shops
is the willingness of the consumer to spend two or three times the cost
of a generic cup of coffee for exotic, flavored or brand-name coffee.
An incongruity is the popularity of fat-free desserts ("healthy"
indulgence) to go with that coffee. The structural change in the
industry is the emergence of franchises. Environmental changes have also
contributed to this phenomenon. As the "baby-boomer" generation
has aged, the preferred place to meet has moved from the bar to the health
club to the coffee shop.
From the Internet site
by Linda Schiffer, here are some suggestions for things you can do to
improve your creativity:
- Study books on creative thinking techniques and put them into practice
- Attend courses on creative thinking and put the ideas into practice.
- Keep a daily journal and record your thoughts, ideas, sketches, etc.
as soon as you get them. Review your journal regularly and see what
ideas can be developed.
- Indulge in relaxation activities and sports to give the mind a rest
and time for the subconscious to digest information.
- Develop an interest in a variety of different things, preferably well
away from your normal sphere of work. For example, read comic books
or magazines you would not normally get. This keeps the brain busy with
new things. It is a common trait of creative people that they are interested
in a wide variety of subjects.
- Do not work too hard; you need time away from a problem to be creative
after periods of intense focus.
Let us consider information about some current trends to see if we can
relate them to potential opportunities in the context of Professor Drucker's
categories. For each, see if you can possibly find a niche on which to
build a business:
- The unexpected The International Association for Financial
Planning is observing a rapid (to the point of unexpected) increase
in calls requesting referrals for financial planners. A spokesperson
for the IAFP says, "People are realizing that financial planning
is not just for retirement or saving for a child's college education;
it's for all stages of a person's life."
- The incongruous Many Americans are feeling pressed for time,
incongruously wishing to lead simpler, easier lives without giving up
those activities that take the most time and effort. The opportunity
lies in offering personal time-saving products and services that relieve
these people of tasks that they find less than fulfilling, not worth
the time, or unpleasant.
- Process needs Individuals and businesses are spending unprecedented
sums of money to acquire the education, training and skills necessary
to remain competitive in a rapidly evolving marketplace, creating opportunities
in consulting and training.
- Structural change The health-care industry will flourish because
of an aging population, myriad technological advances and people's expectations
of readily available medical care. One of the industry's fastest growing
segments is home-based health care, which is well-suited for entrepreneurs
because of its ease of entry.
- Demographics The aging population referred to possesses a
combination of leisure time and discretionary funds that makes them
a great market for new ventures in services relating to their comfort
and recreational needs.
- Changes in perception, mood and meaning The amount of money
that citizens and businesses spend on security products and services
is growing rapidly; the preferred method for many forms of purchase
is increasingly becoming the Internet.
- New knowledge In 1996, for the first time, computer sales
outnumbered television sales in the United States.
From the website
Consortium for Entreneurship Education:
- "The customer is always your first and most important creative challenge.
Listen! Try to see the customers problems and needs from his point of
view. Restate the problem and the customers needs in his terms and iterate
until a consensus is reached. Ask not only what his problems are, but
what special methods or tools he is presently using to solve them. Work
together with or in the place of the end user or customer. Use fictitious
product descriptions to stimulate ideas and discussion. Remember that
effective market research and sales strategy requires just as much creativity,
enthusiasm and perfection as does product development."