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Five ways to harness creativity in an organisation

Stephan Schaefer. Photo.
”Don't be afraid of constructive conflict, conflict can be productive and lead to greater creativity and building on each other's ideas,” says Stephan Schaefer. Photo: Jan Olsson

It is not self-evident that an organisation will enjoy the befits of the creativity of its employees. Creativity can be stifled, but it can also be allowed to flow. Stephan Schaefer, organisational researcher at Lund University School of Economics and Management, gives five tips on how best to utilise creativity in an organisation.

Be creative together with others

It is not the lone genius who hatches all great ideas. Creativity is something of a collective effort. Discuss ideas with your colleagues. Collaboration promotes creativity and collaboration is promoted in, for instance, academia.

Conflict breeds creativity

When different ideas are pitted against each other, creativity is born. Don't be afraid of constructive conflict; conflict can be productive and lead to greater creativity and lets you build on each other's ideas. The Pufendorf Institute at Lund University is a good example where this happens all the time.

Listen to each other

We have become bad listeners. We often prepare what we are going to say in different contexts. This leads to people not listening but talking past each other. It is important to take each other, and what others say, seriously.

Creativity in an organisation arises from a paradox

There must be both autonomy and control in an organisation. Without control, deadlines are not met and little gets done. Without autonomy, there is a risk of less job satisfaction. Independence and control must exist side by side for creativity to flow and things to get done.

Always consider the value of an idea 

How can an idea be put to good use? Should it be used at all? A sustainable approach is to think not only about how ideas can be brought to use within the organisation, but also how they contribute to the public good. If an idea does not contribute to the public good, it should be re-evaluated.

Stefan Schaefer in Lund University's research portal