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Making creativity and innovation happen
Making creativity and innovation happen

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6.2 Creative swiping

Creativity in organisations requires more than just a supportive culture… it also needs ideas. But where should ideas come from?

One approach for developing and finding new ideas is creative swiping, first suggested by Tom Peters (1987).

Creative swiping involves recognising the potential in other people’s ideas and learning how to adapt and enhance those ideas in ways that allow you to do things in more advantageous and sustainable ways. Critically, creative swiping is not a licence to plagiarise, defraud or produce counterfeit merchandise by pretending that something you stole from someone else is your work. Peters himself expresses the concept as follows:

Put NIH (Not Invented Here) behind you – and learn to copy (with unique adaptation/enhancement) from the best! Do so by aggressively seeking out the knowledge of competitors (small and overseas, not just tired old foes) and interesting noncompetitors.

Become a ‘learning organization.’ Shuck your arrogance – ‘if it isn’t our idea, it can’t be that good’ – and become a determined copycat/adapter/enhancer.

(Peters, 1987, p. 228)

Simply copying a competitor today precludes creating your own unique basis for advantage. Peters was clear that success depends on doing something unique, and creative swiping, which amounts to adapting ideas from unconventional sources, aims solely at creating uniqueness.

More than that, however, innovation depends on translating creative ideas into commercially viable ways of doing things. Next you will look at how you can capitalise on your organisation’s creativity.