Creativity Management

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BPTrends ▪ May 2008

Creativity Management—The New Challenge for BPM

Creativity Management – The New Challenge for BPM
Stefan Seidel, Michael Rosemann
Besides classical criteria such as cost and overall organizational efficiency, an organization’s ability to being creative and to innovate is of increasing importance in markets that are overwhelmed with commodity products and services. Business Process Management (BPM) as an approach to model, analyze, and improve business processes has been successfully applied not only to enhance performance and reduce cost but also to facilitate business imperatives such as risk management and knowledge management. Can BPM also facilitate the management of creativity? We can find many examples where enterprises unintentionally reduced or even killed creativity and innovation for the sake of control, performance, and cost reduction. Based on the experiences we have made within case studies with organizations from the creative industries (film industry, visual effects production, etc.,) we believe that BPM can be a facilitator providing the glue between creativity management and well-established business principles. In this article we introduce the notions of creativity-intensive processes and pockets of creativity as new BPM concepts. We further propose a set of exemplary strategies that enable process owners and process managers to achieve creativity without sacrificing creativity. Our aim is to set the baseline for further discussions on what we call creativity-oriented BPM.

Knowledge-intensive Processes are characterized by the involvement of what is commonly referred to as knowledge-workers (Davenport, 2005). Usually these processes are complex, unpredictable, and, as a consequence, difficult – if not impossible – to model in terms of their process flow. There is a vast body of knowledge on how knowledge-workers may be supported to carry out their tasks within such business processes. As Harmon states, knowledge workers “create special problems for anyone who tries to analyze the processes that employ them” (Harmon, 2007). He introduces a continuum where “ordinary workers” work on simple procedural processes, knowledge-workers on more complex processes, and so-called experts work on unique and extremely challenging processes. Harmon characterizes a knowledge worker as someone who “employs a few hundred rules to solve the problems he or she encounters” (Harmon, 2007). Thus, knowledge workers apply processes of convergent, rule-based thinking to solve their problems. Experts, on the other hand, usually work on problems that require very complex cognitive networks employing a vast number of rules and, in many cases, they step into new territory; i.e., the required rules, procedures, and business partners do not even exist. We propose to add another role of stakeholders: creative people. Classifying creative people as a subtype of experts is not entirely true and sufficient. A person does not necessarily need to be an expert with many years of experience to be creative, yet may be working on a highly complex and creative task. Creative people usually perform processes that are very much characterized by divergent thinking (Runco, 2007). Of course, there is a continuum between convergent and divergent thinking, and most situations require both (Eysenck, 2003). That expertise actually does play a role in being creative is enforced by (Amabile, 1998) who identifies motivation, expertise, and creative thinking skills as the main factors that enable people to be creative. But even though expertise is an important aspect, it is surely not the sole or even the most important source of creativity. Creative individuals have to find solutions in complex processes requiring information, intensive communication, and creative freedom. Moreover, creativity in business processes also leads to particular (creative) risks, requires particular incentive systems, and demands...
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