Creativity vs. Intelligence

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Returning from a workshop I recently led on how to increase employees’ creativity and structure ways to channel ideas into innovative products and processes, I began thinking about the comment I made – that intelligence is not a predictor of innovation; creativity is the key.

Einstein, he notes, claimed that “Imagination is more important than knowledge”. Indeed, as a student, he had mediocre grades. Edison, who was sent home from school because he was a slow learner (and was home taught by his mother) said, “I never remember anything that I can look up in a book.” (And today, when facts can be “googled” from any mobile device — no books are necessary!) James Bandrowski, in Corporate Imaging Plus, notes that most researchers agree that the crucial element of innovative genius is not Intelligence Quotient (IQ), but creativity. While IQ matters at the lower end, scoring above 120 on the Stanford-Binet test isn’t related. Dr. Jarik, the inventor of the artificial heart, had lousy grades in college and had to start medical school in Italy. “It’s the synergistic combination of intelligence, creativity, and judgement that differentiates the great innovators from the barren intellectuals”.

So welcome input from virtually anyone who is motivated to unleash their creativity. Then harness it by building structures that channel creativity into innovation. Creativity doesn’t automatically become innovation – the commercial application of the idea. Companies need to create a culture and structure to encourage it (see how Google, Intuit, RiteSite Solutions, etc. do it), leadership to protect people who are challenging the status quo and to protect their fledgling ‘skunk-work’ projects, and leadership to champion the idea throughout the larger organization.

How are you encouraging people to be creative and share their ideas? What challenges do you have to overcome? How are you converting this energy into innovation? Share with us, so we can all benefit from “the power of peers!”

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