The above article was written by Ayse Birsel in the Harvard Business Review dated August 16, 2017. The central message of the article is creativity and ways to increase it. There are different synonyms that are associated with this broad term. It could refer to innovation, imagination or inventiveness. It is that power which is used to produce original ideas, concepts or trends that impact the society positively.
Within the context of this article, creativity can result from wrong thinking which leads to positive outcomes (Birsel 2017). This is the primary content of the article and postulates that ideas which may look bad may actually turn out to be creative and revolutionary. The primary content is captured well within the heading of the article. Wrong thinking or reverse thinking is postulated as an alternative way of thought that is outside of the conventional norms.
The primary content on wrong thinking is underpinned by three core principals. These principles serve to enable innovation and discovery. The first principle is the ability to take on the role of being a beginner. In the eyes of a beginner, a given situation or perspective has multiple possibilities, compared to the expert, who has a limited view. Menara & Haryadi (2011), states that this ability is not dependent on age or seniority: one can learn from those who are junior and less experienced than them
Another principle postulated is that of granting agency to other people. This in effect means giving people the latitude to be who they are. It gives them license to engage their creativity without the constraints of organizational hierarchy. It allows them to be risk takers and to think outside of the box (Gholamreza Memarzadeh & Fatemeh 2014). It also extends to giving people the chance to be responsible for their actions and this makes them agents who contribute to solving problems.
The last principle is that of eliminating the obstacles that are inherent within hierarchical structures. The bureaucratic set up within institutions stifles innovation and creativity (Paul, Ionut & Sorin-George 2016). While being useful in maintaining boundary lines of authority, it does not encourage creativity. It encourages the culture of playing it safely so as to be absolved from blame. This reduces creativity in hierarchical organizations and should be removed.
The article presents several supporting details. Fred Sanger used reverse thinking in contributing to the breakthroughs that resulted in the sequencing of the human genome. Other examples are given of people who chose to think outside of the expected norms. Perhaps the most important supporting example is that of Lisa Rotzinger and her boss Mickey McManus. Lisa took on the role of her boss for a period of two weeks and went on to give a presentation to more than 400 executives.
Organizations should learn to encourage thinking that is contrary to the expected norms in order to stimulate creativity. Instead of looking at some employees as being loose cannons, the same should be nurtured as they may add value in generating solutions. Companies should encourage the generation of concepts that challenge the current mentality of doing business. Creating a team that seeks to probe the current organizational weakness through reverse thinking would be a good starting point in encouraging creativity.
Birsel, A, 2017, To come up with a good idea, start by imagining the worst idea possible, Harvard Business Review.
Gholamreza Memarzadeh, T, & Fatemeh, K , 2014, 'An investigation on the effects of personal characteristics on creativity and innovation', Management Science Letters, Vol 4, Iss 7, Pp 1495-1498 (2014), no. 7, p. 1495. Available from: 10.5267/j.msl.2014.6.014.
Menara, S, & Haryadi, S 2011, 'Stimulating and Nurturing Professionalisms, Creativity and Innovation in Organization', Binus Business Review, Vol 2, Iss 1, Pp 244-259 (2011), no. 1, p. 244.
Paul, M, Ionut, C, & Sorin-George, T, 2016, 'Creativity, Innovation and the Perspectives of Management', Management and Economics Review, Vol 1, Iss 2, Pp 71-81 (2016), no. 2, p. 71.