Managing barriers to creativity and innovation

Barriers to creativity and innovation can be overcome by removing obstacles to creativity and logical thinking. The barriers to creativity can be managed using the following process:

Stage 1:  Experience

Experience is needed in order for one to discover a creative solution.  That requires being open to ones environment and feelings.

However, there are blocks to obtaining experience such as:

  • Fear of not learning If you feel unable to retain information, you’ll be anxious about new experiences.  If you fear being tested on what you were supposed to learn, you may shut down.  If your self-concept calls you incompetent, you won’t put yourself in a position to be humiliated.  And if you are always being compared to people who are supposedly “brilliant,” you may be driven away.  All of these can limit your experiences.
  • Fear of violating standards.  Were you raised to believe that certain topics are “none of your business,” certain actions “impertinent”?  If these feelings cause you to feel “out of bounds,” you’ll avoid investigating a wide range of phenomena and your curiosity will shut down. You may even close off your unconscious and all the creative potential it holds.

Stage 2:  Association

You must be able to associate experiences into a useful product.

What are the blocks to making associations?

  • Over valuing rationality.  If you stay in control by being utterly rational, you may reject associative thinking, and forgo using intuition.  Equally, you will curtail your creativity..
  • Fear of self-awareness.  To make useful associations, you must avoid self-deception and understand the consequences of your actions.  For example, one lab director eventually realized that his unwillingness to acknowledge other people’s contributions stemmed from his fear of seeming incompetent.  Denigrating the “competition” helped him avoid feeling uncreative himself.

Stage 3:  Expression

Once you’ve associated diverse experiences or information, you must express your idea: a creative association isn’t worth much unless you can communicate it.

What are the obstacles to expression?

  • Fear of embarrassment If you are  uncertain of your abilities, fear criticism, or fear speaking before a group (or certain individuals), you’ll have difficulty bringing ideas to light.  Such ideas will remain underdeveloped for lack of feedback.
  • Fear of assertion.  If you express what you feel, will people still like you?  Will you get into trouble?  Tom Sawyer always figured that “staying mum” kept him out of a jam; but if you agree, your inhibition about expressing ideas will limit your creativity.

Stage 4:  Evaluation

People who undervalue their ideas tend not to be creative.  Some hurdles an stand in the way of your evaluation process:

  • Fear of humiliation.  If you rate your solution highly, and other people think it’s rotten, you could end up looking like a boaster or  fool.  (That’s why people adopt false modesty or convince themselves that their creations are boring or obvious.)
  • Fear of rejection.  On the other hand, if you are negative about your own solution or product, people may ignore it—and you.  After all, if you don’t think much of your work, why should they?

Stage 5:  Perseverance

Original ideas and products are fun, but unless you persevere, they won’t make anybody rich. The concept of continuous improvement says any process or product should be endlessly revised and improved.
Perseverance-related blocks include:

  • Fear of failure.  What if you carry your idea to completion and find it’s not as good as you thought (meaning you’re incompetent)?  Therefore play it safe by failing to develop your product to the point where it’s a truly creative work.
  • Lack of rewards.  Much of your creative activity is probably motivated by the admiration your creations inspire in others. Unfortunately, for many people, the work needed to turn a creative impulse into a product is less rewarding. Do you regard yourself as an “idea” person instead of a “detail” person?  This attitude may partly stem from fear that you are poor at follow-through, meaning your impulse will come to naught.

Other ways of managing barriers to creativity  would include:

  1. Budgeting for research and development
  2. Strengthening public institutions that process the(such as KIRDI, KIPRI and WIPO) patenting process
  3. Rewarding creativity
  4. Promoting creativity training
  5. Avoiding mental blocks
  6. Being systematic
  7. Being a problem solver
  8. Approaching issues from different angles
  9. Focusing on end results rather than the means
  10. Embracing divergent views



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