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Making creativity and innovation happen
Making creativity and innovation happen

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6 Creativity and innovation in organisations

While some might see creativity as an individual activity, the reality is that most creativity and innovation happens in teams and organisations.

When people talk about creativity and innovation in organisations, they often mention culture. If well-motivated people have expertise, culture may give their creative thinking scope to flourish. Cultivating a creativity-friendly culture may create more choices.

Yet you may not be able to pursue every choice, and choosing between options – picking winners – can be far from straightforward.

Killing your favourite ideas can be painful. If subsequent events reveal that you killed a winner, the loss may be even harder to bear. If an organisation’s culture kills creativity without good reason, the consequences could be catastrophic.

While certain elements of an organisation’s culture – defined at its simplest as ‘the way we do things around here’ (Deal and Kennedy, 1982) – might be formalised, an informal atmosphere that encourages communication and networking is also important. The culture should be one in which people feel listened to and where time to explore ideas is allowed, if not actively encouraged. In addition to facilitating open communication, the organisation needs to be outward-looking to keep abreast of changes.

Figure 14 An informal work team

Activity 7 Building a culture that stimulates collective genius

Timing: Allow about 15 minutes

In the following video at the link below, Harvard professor Linda Hill discusses the key elements of a culture that stimulates ‘collective genius’:

While watching, think of an organisation you know well. How many of the elements highlighted by Linda Hill in the video are present? Does this fit with your perception of how creative the organisation is?

Video: Building a culture that stimulates collective genius [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]


The degree to which an organisation is creative can vary considerably. By understanding the key elements highlighted by Linda Hill you can start to understand why some organisations are more creative and innovative than others.