Are You Efficacious Enough to Survive the Innovation Economy?

In Eileen Chadnick’s article, Are You Ready for the Innovation Economy? (Globe and Mail, August 2016), she cites six must-knows to be ready for the innovation economy (about to replace the knowledge economy) http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/careers/leadership-lab/are-you-ready-for-the-innovation-economy/article31147117/. All six are very helpful words of advice to all of us and I would like to add one more to the list. To survive the innovation economy you need to be efficacious about your ability to be creative.

Part of the problem is that many of us don’t believe we are creative, which can stop us in our tracks from engaging in the innovation process. Creative self-efficacy – an individual’s belief in his or her ability to be creative in a given situation – is another must-know to be innovation ready. High technology employees, from my PhD research (Self-efficacy Beliefs and Creative Performance in Adults: A Phenomenological Investigation, 2002), not only had confidence in their technical ability; they felt very confident in their ability to be creative, expressing this explicitly during the course of the study.

Developing creative self-efficacy first involves recognizing that we are all born creative however for some of us, we have lost that realization somewhere along the way. If you don’t believe that we are all creative, hang out with a two-year old for a while. It is time to start believing that you have the ability to be creative in a given situation. When negative thoughts come into your mind about your inability to be creative, replace them with positive thoughts about your creative ability. As someone who did not think she was creative early in her career my mantra was “I am creative. I have the ability to be creative.” I supported this by finding contrary evidence about my creative ability i.e. every time I would doubt myself, I recalled a time when I had come up with a creative solution to a situation. It took a few months however now I am efficacious about my creative ability.

It also important to recognize that creativity is not just for musicians, artists and designers. I define creativity as ‘getting the idea’ and ‘innovation doing something about it’, which suggests that we all have the capacity to come up with innovative solutions that are novel and useful. Creative efficacy contributes to acting and thinking in a creative manner, which is at the heart of innovation.

Next, create an environment around you that will allow you to be creative. Creative self-efficacy is fostered in an environment when creative people feel that they have the freedom and thought space to be creative, and when they are working with other creative, knowledgeable people. Develop a creative space in your home and/or at work that will inspire you and foster creative/innovative thinking. Surround yourself with people who you see as creative. Encourage others to be creative e.g. instead of throwing cold water on someone’s enthusiasm for an idea, offer encouragement, expertise, and constructive suggestions.

Finally, apply a creative/innovative approach to tackle challenging situations/problems. For example, by simply applying the Diverge-Converge approach to every situation/problem you are trying to address i.e. using creative techniques to generate lots of ideas and converging techniques to select the most innovative one, you are sharpening your creative ability (For more information on these techniques and others go to www.foursightconsulting.com/ideas). Remember that practice leads to mastery of any new skill or behaviour.

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