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USING CREATIVITY AND INNOVATION TO DRIVE EFFICIENCY AND EFFECTIVENESS IN

HIGHER EDUCATION BEING A PAPER PRESENTED AT THE REGISTRY INTERNATIONAL


WORKSHOP AND EIGHT ANNUAL LECTURE OF FEDERAL UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY,
AKURE BY MR. O. A. OGUNLEYE ON 1ST AUGSUT, 2016

Key/operational words of this discussion are:

(i) Creativity: Creativity is the act of turning new and imaginative ideas into reality,
(Williams, 2007). It is also the process of bringing something new into being which requires
passion, dedication and commitment.
(ii) Innovation: Webster dictionary defines innovation as the act or process of introducing new
concepts, ideas, procedures, methods and devices which lead to better ways of doing things.
It is also viewed as the implementation of a new process that creates additional value for
business, government or society.

Creativity and innovation are crucial and central to organizational success and continuous

relevance.

iii. Efficiency: This is the ability to accomplish a task with minimum amount of resources i.e.
time and effort. It is also the process of using the lowest amount of inputs to create the
greatest amount of outputs. It is equally doing more with less at the same time doing the
thing right.

iv. Effectiveness: This is the degree to which targeted problems are solved and objectives are
achieved, (Hutton, 2012). Effectiveness has the capability of producing desired or expected
results. It is simply doing the right thing.

v. Leadership: This is the ability to influence others. It is also the ability to make
sound decisions and inspire others to perform well to achieve set goals.

vi. Higher Education: The National policy on education (2004) defines higher or tertiary
education as Post-Secondary education provided in the Universities, Polytechnics, (Mono-
technics) and Colleges of education. The same document highlights the goals of higher
education as follows:

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(a) To contribute to national development through high level relevant manpower
training;

(b) To develop and inculcate proper values for the survival of the individual and
society;
(c) To develop the intellectual capability of individuals to understand and
appreciate their local and external environments;
(d) To acquire both physical and intellectual skills which will enable individuals
to be self-reliant and useful members of the society;
(e) To promote and encourage scholarship and community service;
(f) To forge and cement national unity; and
(g) To promote national and international understanding and interaction.

As operators in the sector, it is our collective responsibility to harness all resources, creativity and
innovation inclusive to drive efficiency and effectiveness to realize these mandates. It is equally
imperative for me to point out that the discussion on this topic cannot be exhaustive. I will however
attempt to stimulate your thoughts towards this direction with a view of challenging you to carry out
further investigation on this topical subject.

Introduction: It is essential for employees to embrace creativity, and innovation as critical factors to
the growth and continuous relevance of an organization. Various authors in this discipline are in
unanimity that in order to stimulate creativity, employers must first create conducive workplace
environment where employees are encouraged to contribute meaningfully to the present and future
success of the organization. Conversely, employees on the other hand are at all times much more
concerned about job security, hence they may be afraid of contributing imperfect or Unorthodox
idea that might put their source of livelihood at risk. Therefore encouraging and rewarding genuine
risk-taking behavior by leaders at all levels is a sure way to move employees beyond this fear and
start generating new ideas. Employees all over often look at their superiors for guidance, approval,
confirmation and acceptability or otherwise of their workplace behavior, attitude and general
disposition to official related matters. Hence, acknowledging new ideas no matter how minute they
may be is significant. It is therefore incumbent on leaders to genuinely seek ways to positively

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change their workplace environment by rewarding and recognizing novel ideas or pronouncements,
whether it is ultimately successful or not thus encouraging more innovations. As leaders, we are to
note that rewards for any noticeable developmental behavior do not necessarily need to be financial.
Symbolic recognition like complimentary remark, standing ovation, public recognition or positive
review across the various organs of the organization will enhance and strengthen the bond between
the organization and the employees. Leaders must appreciate the fact that all people are desirous of
positive feedback and warmth that comes with knowing that they are appreciated, celebrated,
recognized and valued where they work. We equally need to come to terms with the fact that
creativity and innovation are not items that can be bought on the shelve in a supermarket, they are
virtues found in nearly all humans. It is therefore the responsibility of leaders at all levels to ensure
that employees exhibit without any hindrance creative and innovative attitude at all times.
There is equally a strong debate as to whether creativity and innovation are inborn trait rather than
something that can be learned and developed. Whatever way, creativity and innovation can only be
expressed in a conducive environment. The following factors are therefore critical in driving
creativity and innovations in an organization, higher education sector inclusive:

(i) Reward Creativity: As leaders at different levels, it is important to encourage employees to


make suggestions which should be taken seriously otherwise everyone will think it’s a waste
of time to squeeze out creative juices for suggestions that won’t be reckoned with. Reward
in this case can be tangible/monetary or intangible/symbolic. The most important factor is
for employees across the board to develop intrinsic value for the organization, which is the
surest way of fostering creativity and innovation.

Strategy: Leaders should adopt stick and carrot approach for employees to be intrinsically
motivated.

(ii) Anonymity and Confidentiality: Employees may be already motivated to be creative and
innovative but without any outlet to ventilate their wonderful ideas. While the outspoken
ones can always speak out, several others may be too shy or afraid to do so in the same
manner. Providing suggestion boxes will enable these category of employees express

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themselves. This is an indicator that the leader actively solicits ideas. The most important
thing here is for employees to know that the leaders want to hear their ideas.

Strategy: Leaders should be good listeners and strengthen the use of suggestion boxes.

(iii) A Compelling Case for Creativity and Innovation: Employees should understand why
innovation is necessary for survival and continuous relevance of the organization. In
addition to this is the factor of inspired shared vision for the future. The workforce in this
situation should collectively anticipate the future of the organization based upon the past to
enable it respond more to future challenges and organizational dynamism.

Strategy: Leaders should always emphasize landmark achievements to subordinates

(iv) Diversity among Employees: This factor, unknown to many, fosters creativity and
innovation, as employees with comparable environmental and educational background and
experience creates a homogenous working environment which promotes uniform and
agreeable people but leaves little room for ideas to flourish. Getting different ideas from
variety of backgrounds will enrich the developmental process of the organization. In this
case, the organization is encouraged to hire staffs from different backgrounds with dissimilar
profiles for interchanging of ideas and get them to mingle around projects.

This is where the Federal Character Commission could actively interface with organizations.

Strategy: Top management should encourage and sustain heterogeneity in the organization.

v) Visible and Clear Senior Management Involvement: Innovative and creative ability can
be enhanced in the organization with the active top management support as employees will
be willing to take risks. Closely associated to this, is the establishment of decision making
model that fosters team work which will enhance creativity and innovation and ultimately
lead to creatively resourced multifunctional team that will willingly take risks and see value
in absurdity. It may sound hysterical that an idea which at first does not appear totally absurd
may not pass the test of creativity. This is where leaders as constituted in this assembly
should show that creativity is highly cherished in the organization.

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Strategy: Emphasis should be laid on improved performance. The attitude of business as
usual should also be discouraged.

vi) Organizational Vision: Though it is incumbent on the top management of the organization
to put in place creative and innovative workplace that will develop and encourage the culture
of risk taking, the workforce often forget that they must key into the vision and mission of
the organization being piloted by the top management as behavior of individuals within the
organization is central to organizational innovation, and creativity. However the workforce
often forget that the leadership of the organization tries to maintain a delicate balance of
ensuring that everyone is focused on getting the job done properly with a few interruptions as
possible.
Strategy: Employees should key into the vision of the organization.
vii) Provide Advancement Opportunities: Creative employees are bound to appreciate
recognition whenever the opportunity arises by putting them in charge of the deliverables
they initiated which will give them the opportunity of being in control of their ideas and
afford them the opportunity of learning the more along the way
(Likert, 2006). As leaders, don’t just snatch ideas out of your subordinates hands or they
will end up holding their ideas and not contributing creatively to the workplace. Another
common advancement option is to expose employees to on the job training which will
enhance their skills through learning opportunities. In this case, the employees become oblige
to perform better and plough back all the knowledge gained to the organization.
Strategy: As much as feasible, involve employees, in the ideas they initiated or have
comparative advantage, at the same time expose them to periodic exposure to on the job
training.
viii) Tolerance for Risks and Failure: Tolerating a certain degree of failure as a necessary part
of growth is an important part of encouraging innovation and creativity. Leaders should
encourage people to learn from their mistakes. Never put off creative flow by penalizing
those whose ideas don’t work.
Strategy: Encourage employees to constantly generate ideas on their routine functions.
ix) Instill a Sense of Ownership: An ownership mentality creates a powerful incentive for
inventive thinking, when employees are aware of how their interests are aligned with those of
the organization, they will have strong reasons to go the extra mile to further the course of

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the organization. When employees don’t see how their individual efforts affect the
organization profitably, they tend to be passive and reactive. To encourage greater
involvement, commitment and dedication to the organization, employees should be fairly and
equitably treated.
Strategy: Leaders should always emphasize, at every opportunity, joint ownership of the
organization and be fair to all employees,
x) Reach Out to Employees by Seeking Them Out: Every employee loves to feel he has the
attention of the leader who will recognize and listen to what he says. Display of
interpersonal skills in which the leader appears humane and relate as one of them rather than
a larger than life distant figure helps employees to warm up to the leader and feel happy
working for him. This creates congenial environment for flow of innovative and creative
ideas. In this situation, the work environment becomes more interesting. This approach is
the surest path towards successful team building which will bring the best out of the
employees where they become more open minded and willing to explore alternatives to their
routine functions. This at the same time breeds communication.
Strategy: Leaders should identify with employees.
xi) Brainstorming: This is a conference technique that involves contribution of ideas from all
members in the group in an attempt to find a solution to a problem. It is simply a group
discussion to produce ideas. The golden rules of brainstorming are:
(a) No ideas are ever condemned
(b) The more radical the ideas the better
(c) Analyses and improvement of ideas is encouraged by team members.

Strategies: Leaders to adopt group solving method as a deliberate procedure where and
when necessary.

Other factors that enhance creativity and innovation include synectics, barrier breaking
approach, adoption of the cup model theory, accountability, provision of working tools
among others.

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Barriers to Creativity and innovation in the Organization

It is important to recognize impediments to creative and innovative thought process. It is therefore

necessary for an organization to be mindful of these deterrents of the creative process so that

employees can continue to put out most novel ideas at all times.

Some of the factors that have stifling effects on creativity and innovation are:

i) Stress: Organizational stress is the harmful physical and emotional response that happens
when there is a conflict between job demands on the employee and the amount of control the
employee has over meeting these demands. In general, the combination of high demands in a
job and low amount of control over the situation can lead to stress. This is one of the ultimate
killers of creativity as the modern workplace is full of demands, deadlines etc. Thus
organizations where the stress factors are already high will be detrimental to employee
performance as it will result to loss of drive, hamper productivity and prevent employees
from being at their best.

Strategy: Employees, should as much as possible, avoid working themselves to the bone
as it is not an indicator of being at your creative best.
ii) Monotony: We are the sum of our experiences; hence, sitting in the same place, doing the
same thing over and over even talking to the same people will keep your mind stuck on the
same thought and ideas.

Strategy: To fuel creativity and innovation, you should momentarily engage in activities
where you will experience new things, new events, new places, new activities, new people
when it comes to thinking of ideas you will have a much larger library to draw from. This
will help the employee to constantly re-fuel and re-invigorate the body system and have your
mojo back.

iii) Lack of Social Diversity: Though homogenous groups have shown to be better able to get
along smoothly but it comes at a cost because they are less creative. So, beware of being

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surrounded by people whose disposition are too similar all the time as you may end up with
lip readers in a creative echo chamber.

Strategy: Embrace heterogeneity


iv) Close Mindedness: This happens when a leader often speaks with finality i.e. “that is not
possible,” “it can’t fly,” “this is strange therefore unacceptable” or subtle comments as “we
do things by the book here” or group members implicitly commenting that new ideas are not
welcome. Close mindedness on the part of the leader is detrimental to creative thinking.

Strategy: Encourage subordinates to initiate ideas and suggestions while the leader
moderates the ideas.
v) Lack of Effective Communication: Innovative ideas, in most cases, come from the “crazy
person” the officer who is considered as an outliner. As leaders, we should not only
encourage our subordinates to always come up with new ideas but also encourage them to
present such ideas in a concise manner that makes it easier for others to understand.

Strategy: Leaders should accommodate all shades of opinion from Employees


vi). Clash of Values/Conflict of Interest: This is opposition between the private interests and
official responsibilities of a person in a position of trust. An organization comprises of
employees from various walks of life, they bring their own set of values, ambition, ideas and
principles, where these interests conflicts with organizational goals, it might result to
inexplicable internal frustrations to the employee’s, reputation, integrity and trustworthiness
both in the eyes of management and colleagues alike, hence creativity and innovation are
relegated to the background.

Strategy: Employees should learn to always put organizational interest above personal
consideration.

vii) Apathy: This is absence of emotion, enthusiasm and concern in things we do. It is important
for employees to cherish what they do, if one is working on what he does not care about, it
will be very difficult to be creative and innovative on it. If you are passionate about your job
you will be happier spending more time thinking about it and looking for solutions to any
challenges you are facing.

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Strategy: To do great exploit is to love what you do. It is important to point out that even in
the face of economic challenges and employment deficit, it is imperative for you to derive
joy from your routine functions.
viii) Organizational Politics: This refers to informal, unofficial and behind the scene efforts to
sell ideas and influence people in pursuit of personal agenda and self - interest within the
organization. Creativity and innovation require time to flourish. Once an employee gets
encumbered, embroiled and engrossed in office politics then you can safely forget about
creativity in your area of primary assignments as petty fights, back-biting, suspicion, mutual
distrust and political bitterness hampers creative and innovative process. These therefore

constitute tremendous loss to the organization and also affect the productivity of individual
employee at work.
Strategy: Employees should not get too much involved in Institutional politics.

ix) Perceived Discrimination: Employee’s discrimination especially in the application of


rules and regulations, conventions, statutory policies and opportunities can impact negatively
on the psyche of the work force and hampers employee’s behavior in relation to job
performance. This may also result to disenchantment and higher incidence of grievances
among employee’s which will ultimately kill creative and innovative thoughts.

Strategy: Employees should be treated fairly and equitably.

x) Fear/Self-doubt: The two worst enemies of creativity are fear and self-doubt, the two
factors put together can be genuine creative killers. If you are afraid to try new things or
ways, then you are stifling your creativity. We must realize that the more challenges we face
the more we employ creative and innovative thinking to our work schedule and the more
creative we become.

Strategy; I will urge you to embrace failure and you will be rewarded with a fat bounty of
short and long term creative thinking. It is important to view failure as a stepping stone to
success, this is what John Maxwell refers to as failing forward.

xi) Lack of Focus: This is a wide spread problem irrespective of age or gender. In an
organization, not being clear on what you want to achieve makes it difficult to be creative.

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Therefore, always set goals and deadlines for yourself in order to get the work done and there
by stimulate your creativity.

Strategy: Master your job schedule and avoid distractions.

xii) Negative People: Some people are not naturally inclined to either creativity or innovation,
such people kill your beautiful ideas and make you think they are not good enough nor are
they achievable. In this case, you may eventually stop believing in yourself, and your
creativity will die.

Strategy: Share your thoughts, and work with positively minded people who will encourage
your creativity and subject you to constructive criticism.

xiii) Bureaucracy and Red Tape: Age long policies, procedures, inflexible and rigid
organizational structures can stifle new thinking and fresh approaches. Bureaucracy promote
the status quo thereby smothering inventiveness, new information, new procedures and new
methods to the point that fewer and fewer ideas are generated as the creative mind is
constantly navigating bureaucratic obstacles and numerous standard operating procedures
(Kelly, 2001).

Strategy: Though rules are necessary in an organization, many can suppress innovations
and ideas. Therefore, consider if some of the rules can be changed, updated or eliminated to
allow effective flourish of ideas.

xiv) Micromanagement: This is excessive control with extreme attention to minutest details of
every assignment by monitoring and assessing every step taken by subordinates. This
results to failure to focus on major details of an activity. Here the leader exhibits tremendous
concern for the process rather than result. This approach is detrimental to achievements and
by extension inhibits creativity and innovation, as it make puppets out of employees who are
expected to toe the (boss ) line and not to think for themselves.

Strategy: Lead and manage employees, provide them with necessary direction, give them
freedom to operate and assist them to adopt measures which they think are best to achieve
results albeit within the ambit of the law. This freedom keep employees happy, encouraged
and motivated in the belief that they are trusted.

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Other barriers to creativity and innovation include making excuses, being discreet with ideas,
role mismatch, inadequate resources, lack of role clarity, personalities or ego clashes, lack of
transparency and bullying or harassment.

CONCLUSION

It should be noted that the major reason why people are not thinking out of the box or coming up
with solutions vastly different from how things used to be done is that they may be afraid of
repercussions of making mistakes. Risk taking has to be recognized, encouraged and be viewed as a
norm in the organization. Developing creative and innovative culture takes time, but it starts with
the leaders at all levels being more open minded and less judgmental to suggestions by subordinates
across the board.

Furthermore, it is not possible to take every idea that comes from employees. Stimulation of
creativity and innovation can be achieved by engaging employees in a continuous subtle debate
on a budding idea. The important thing is to create an environment where people are consistently
and constantly encouraged to come up with innovative ideas by keeping an open mind and
evaluating these ideas when they come to you.

Caution, encouraging creativity, innovation, conducive atmosphere, and identification with


employees should not be misconstrued as compromising organizational discipline. however they
should lead to mutual trust, recognition and respect for organizational hierarchy and authority, with
the ultimate goal of reducing to the barest minimum unnecessary bickering and suspicion in the
workplace.

In conclusion, success in any organization requires constant generation of ideas and brainpower in
this respect is the most valuable resource. The challenge is for us to constantly and repeatedly re-
invent ourselves. The roadmap to re-invention starts by re-assessing, re-configuring, re-sequencing
how we carry out our work schedule. (Okpara, 2007). Growth, development, efficiency and
effectiveness in the institution can not be sustained without creativity and innovation. It is therefore
incumbent for leaders at all levels to make creativity and innovation a strategic priority in the
workplace. To this end, while leaders are encouraged to adopt participative and interactive

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leadership approach as a panacea for free flow of ideas, the workforce should where necessary adopt
positive and proactive disposition to work which will engender rationality in the work environment.

Finally, this paper would achieve its objective if at the end of this exercise employees develop new
and improved service delivery approach in their functions. It is the collective responsibility of all to
sustain creativity and innovation in the organization which remains the viable vehicle that drives
efficiency and effectiveness in any enterprise.

Thank you for listening.

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and alternatives.

Friday. O. Okpara. (2007); The value of creativity and innovation in Entrepreneurship. Journal of
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Harold K. and Heinz. W. (2003): Essentials of Management Tata McGraw – Hills Publishing
Company Limited New Delliv.

James B. Quinn. (2012): Managing Innovation and creativity. Pitman Publishing.

Internet downloads.

Kelly, N. O. (2001): The online Journal of issues in Nursong.

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Viljoen, J. (2010): Strategic Management Planning and implementing successful corporate

Strategies. Melbourne, Longman Australian Press Limited.

WiIlliams, C. (2007): Management, fourth edition Thompson Higher Education. National Policy
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Series of information accessed from the internet..

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