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Creativity in Management

An Introduction

M.J. Arul

Decision making in management requires a good deal of analytical and logical thinking. Management education the world over lays great emphasis, therefore, on tools and techniques of analysing problems and evaluating alternative solutions -- intelligently, logically and explicitly. Such emphasis has led to the development and strengthening of the faculties of intelligence, which according to the discoveries of brain research, lie in the left hemisphere of the human brain.

Effective management calls for synthesis, too -- the ability to comprehend relationships and discern the appropriateness of analysis. A good manager also has to be imaginative. S/he must be able to fairly quickly (intuitively!) shift frames of reference and generate a number and variety of choices, including those that have never been tried. This ability is characterised by associative thinking. The so-called intuition is indeed a kind of relational or associative and holistic thought that originates from the brain's right hemisphere, which has inadvertently been overlooked in our academic tradition.

Most of the formal education we have been through has made us strong "leftists" by augmenting our left brain and neglecting (atrophying?) our right one. Fortunately, however, it has been established that the right brain can be jolted out of its relative disuse and turned into a valuable resource. Creativity emerges to the extent thinking alternates between the right brain and the left.

Creativity comprises abilities such as keen observation, sensitivity to problems, fluency and flexibility of thought, ability to restructure problems and a penchant for fantasy. Creativity is not uniqueness; nor is it something par excellence. It is the net ability to come up with original and useful responses to situations or novel and workable solutions to problems. It is not an all-or-none commodity. Neither is it something that some people possess and others don't. It is present in everyone, though in varying degrees. Creativity, though present in all, often remains unactualised and most of us operate well below our creative potential.

The psychology of creativity has identified a number of personal blocks or barriers which constrict one's creative functioning. It has also helped in developing methods to enervate these blocks. Tested techniques to stimulate creativity are available. Research studies and training programmes, both abroad and in our country, assert that the creative potential can be actualised and that the creative ability of a person can be increased substantially through systematic practice.

Based on the premises that are evident and implied in what has been said so far, Creativity in Management has been designed to help participants recognise their creative potential, examine their personal barriers and work out strategies for overcoming the barriers. The course will also acquaint the participants with techniques of creative thinking and train them through various exercises in the application of the techniques.

Evaluation will be on the basis of the extent to which individual participants apply themselves to the various activities in the course. The activities include attention to lecturettes, participation in discussions, involvement in exercises and completion of overnight assignments.

Creativity is an attitude of looking at everyday problems in so fresh and uncommon a way as to trigger off original thought processes and new ideas leading to simple-and-effective (elegant) solutions. -M.J. Arul.

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