Creative Management: Balancing the Creativity of Innovation within Organizations

Managing creative or innovative teams is always a struggle. But with good leadership skills these teams can be most productive

by Rod Dunne on October 18, 2010

in Creative

A major challenge for creative management is how mature organizations with strong rules and business processes can incorporate innovation (ideas, strategies & methodologies). You probably have seen this for yourself.

Its seemingly chaotic idea creation process, into their company in a way that enhances new product/business development work.

Here, I’ll take a look at the conflict between creativity and conformity within organizations and how creative project management can help resolve some of the challenges.

Is innovation & change really necessary?

On the face of it, once an organization reaches a level of maturity then internal business processes start to become formalized into policies and informal/formal rules. These rules define how projects are delivered and new product lines implemented and released.


These processes are completely necessary in order to make their organization more predictable. One major benefit you’ll find of these policies is that there is a larger decision making process involved for product concepts to move from the idea stage to implementation. This reduces the chances of wayward concepts ruining the company brand.

However, your organization has to realize that creativity and innovation management need to be incorporated into their growth strategies and business proposal templates in order for new product ideas to be created. This will be implemented as new lines especially as existing product lines pass maturity and start to decrease in sales.

The problem with non-conformist (seemingly chaotic) activity

The problem really is that ideation is an inherently non-conformist activity without time-lines, costs and stringent expectations.

For example, the use of fuzzy front end methodologies within a research and development team are built upon the process of continually coming up with new ideas and prototyping/testing these concepts. These are concepts that are not taught in most business management degree courses .

So, for many companies the ideation groups and implementation groups are kept as almost separate groups with one section (i.e. R&D) usually simply passing on their idea designs onto engineering groups for implementing the new products.

This is the point at which creativity and innovation management really needs to step in and control the interface points between the two – the point of control for any innovation strategy.

Controlling the process

Creative business management can control the transfer of ideas to an implementation phase by adding some levels of conformity to the ideation teams. For starters, your research and development departments need to take on board the fact that their work needs to dovetail in with the work of other departments tasked with implementing their ideas.

Other teams will have long-term/yearly plans detailing product releases and major milestones. Your research and development team should also be attempting to work towards the milestones of dependent teams. That is, providing their idea concepts insufficient time so they may be implemented to hit the deadlines.

Incorporate sales lead generation concepts from your marketing and sales divisions along with product ideas and customer services/support and other teams. If necessary, you could use lead generation companies for more rapid speed to market (though your long-term approach would be to train up your own staff).

More importantly, creative management can enforce a go/no-go gate between ideation and implementation whereby any new ideas for products from your research and development group need to be accompanied by a proposal that includes details about how they would perceive the product should be implemented.

After all, idea creation is pointless if it is not going to be implemented correctly according to how it was originally envisioned. My post about Googles marketing strategy takes an alternate viewpoint to idea creation and how it can potentially result in products the customer may not ultimately desire.

Delivering such a proposal (that includes proposed time-lines, costs, resource requirements, prerequisites and risks) to creative project management provides a clearer vision to implementation groups about how ideas can be realized, and helps creative management to better evaluate idea concepts.

The task of creativity and innovation management is almost like the workings of the brain. All brains have a creative side and a logical side which manage to work in harmony in order for us humans to function properly.

If you take this analogy to creative business management, then the creative research and development teams with their free-form business methodologies need to find harmony in how they work and pass on their new product proposals to the more logical and conformist product implementation groups of a firm.

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Author Rod Dunne...

Blog owner and sole writer Rod DunneI am the owner and sole writer on Product-ivity.com. This is my personal blog detailing troubleshooting tips for small businesses. Posts are based upon 2 decades in consultancy & innovation management within startups/maturing companies.

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