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Using creativity and innovation to solve problems

Every job requires problem-solving skills. Business is about finding effective solutions to problems, whether the challenges or obstacles are minor or more complex. For many years, highly successful business leaders have shown that creativity and innovation are the keys necessary to succeed and advance in a constantly evolving world and marketplace. Entrepreneurs and innovators such as Henry Ford, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg have been willing to take risks by using creativity and innovation to bring a positive, new change into the world.

What is the difference between creativity and innovation and how are these concepts used in the business world? Creativity can be defined as the ability to generate or recognize ideas that may be useful in solving problems. Creative problem solving involves being able to view things from a different perspective and unleashing your imagination and intuition to come up with better ways to solve problems. Once you have identified the challenge you want to tackle, there are numerous techniques that can be initiated to kick start your creative problem solving process such as brainstorming and mind mapping. Jotting down all possible options and ideas, even those that seem random, unrealistic or "out of the box," can get your creative juices flowing. Stating and then analyzing all your ideas, even the off-the-wall notions, will help you discover new approaches that may lead to creative solutions.

While creativity in business is generally associated with the generation of new ideas, innovation refers to taking those new ideas from the drawing board and putting them to work in the marketplace. Innovation can be defined as the ability to create something new, something radically different from things that are already in existence. Innovation in business can be the introduction of a new product, service, feature or procedure – or an improvement on an existing product or service. Many factors contribute to innovation in business, including market need, company strategy and company resources. All innovation requires risk but entrepreneurs and business leaders who successfully innovate can not only help a company grow but also help make people's lives richer.

Because there is a strong need for this kind of thinking in business, some online MBA programs, such as the one through Boise State University, include innovation and creativity in the core curriculum.

The importance of innovation in business

Companies today are finding that they need to be both creative and innovative in order to remain competitive globally. Competition is growing at a significant rate. Digital, mobile and Web technology has sped up the rate of consumer demands. Innovation in business, as well as creativity, is now mandatory for a company to survive and thrive. Innovation can bring added value, widen the employment base and lead to larger profits.

Innovation management also is vital for business success. According to Idris Mootee, author of the book Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation, "Innovation management is about more than just planning new products, services, brand extensions, or technology inventions. It's about imagining, mobilizing, and competing in new ways."

In a world that changes moment by moment, it is important that you and your company understand the difference between creativity and innovation.


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