Sunday, 23 March 2008

Creative thinking skills

It has been shown that tolerance for ambiguity is closely related to creative-thinking skills. In other words, creative persons are not convinced that “there is only one truth” and are ready to challenge “the current truth”.
(1) Do such approaches really work? Is it worthwhile to give the “creative” a free hand? To what degree?
(2) Can cultural differences affect this view on the world around us? Under what conditions? Give examples and discuss them.

Apple Computers Inc. had a total revenue of $24bn in the financial year 2007 and was founded by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. The latter invented the Apple I and Apple II, computers that made the company huge. Although no longer a full time employee, Wozniak made the following comments about his time there: "we both had pretty much sort of an independent attitude about things in the world, we were both smart enough to think things up for ourselves" and "being the sort of designer I was, I was designing things all on my own, working alone...I could still hang around and do any project I felt like" (Moon, 2007).

Apple is one company that proved the approach of giving a creative genius 'free hand' can pay huge dividends. Wozniak was given all the time and materials he needed to create a commercially viable product that he was absolutely fascinated with. This weeks lecture spoke about intrinsic task motivation - 'the main source of motivation for creative people is in their souls' (Laureate Online Education, 2005 - 2007). I am sure that Wozniak would have sat and worked on his designs for Apple for free, it is unfortunate for these sorts of people that real life (the need to eat, sleep, pay the rent) tends to get in the way. "Truly creative people are intensely career oriented, pay particular attention to the intrinsic satisfactions in their work, look for interesting, stimulating, challenging, and creative projects, need a variety of problems, professional and organizational recognition of their achievements, ascending degrees of responsibilities and steady advancement and self-realization" (Raudsepp, 1978).

But genius still needs to be channeled properly. After all a company has strict deadlines to meet and profits to make. Managing creative people can be easy in one respect because they don't view what they do as 'just a job', they view it as a very important part of their lives. So getting them to turn up for work and focus on what they are doing is usually not a problem. I have a friend in Canada who designs routers for Cisco and as he puts it 'they pay me to play with computers every day!' However, creatives can also require careful man management. They have a tendency to go off at tangents - working on things that they find interesting but are not strictly realted to the work they are supposed to be producing. They often have egos that require careful massaging - 'you just don't understand me' syndrome. They can sometimes be difficult to communicate with and because they are very good at working in a virtual vacum on their own can struggle in team situations.

I think that the biggest barrier in terms of cross - cultural creativity is the pre-conception that only the creative efforts of your native culture have any relevance to the world around you. This has been a pretty consistent theme throughout history - at the time when British foreign policy could be succinctly described as 'make the world England' missionaries from the Protestant church did their best to drive out local religions in Africa, China and anywhere else the Union Jack was raised. Dr. M. K. Raina describes 'Torrance Phenomenon' "which advocates giving honour where honour is due, as opposed to universalising a particular culture and ridiculing others" (Creativity Centre Ltd., 2007).
In modern globalised business managers are sent to work in offices all over the world and work with people who come from numerous cultures and this exposure to different ideas and viewpoints can only enhance creative thinking.


Moon, P (2007) Wozniak on Apple, AI and future inventions [Online] London: IDG Communications Ltd.
Available from (Accessed 23rd March 2008)

Laureate Online Education, 2005 - 2007 Seminar for Week 3 - Decision Making and Motivation

Raudsepp, E., Characteristics of the Creative Individual, Princeton Creative Research, 1978.
(I have cited the original publication but I took the paraphrase from

Creativity Centre Ltd. (2007) Creativity & Cultural Diversity International Conference 15 - 19 Sept 02 [Online] Leeds: Creativity Centre Ltd.
Available from (Accessed 23rd March 2008)

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