Managing Creativity and Innovation – Part 3

Conditions of Creative Thinking

Creative thinking does not happen automatically. Alexander Graham Bell has always been known for his invention of the telephone in 1876 (Strickland, n.d.) and the first successful cell phone was designed by Martin Cooper who was an executive in Motorola in 1973 (Seward, 2013). Fast forward to 2017, we have a wide variety of smartphones of various sizes and functions.


Image 1 – Evolution of mobile devices (Seward, 2013)


Martin Cooper was driven by his competitive edge against Bell Labs to design the first functional cell phone. He then proceeded to make a prank call to his competitor Joel Engel to prove his point (Strickland, n.d.). With that, it propelled the cell phone industry to where it stands today.

According to Proctor (2005), he cites that Mary Henle (1962) defined that creative thinking required five conditions which were “receptivity, immersion, seeing questions, utilisation of errors and detached devotion”.

To be able to think creatively, one needs to be receptive where one is required to disengage from one’s present actions and notice one’s surrounding that might present an idea (Proctor, 2005). The telephone invention has always been synonymous with Alexander Graham Bell as he holds the patent for it ( Staff, 2009) but his patent has been challenged by Elisha Gray who at the same time was also applying for the patent but Bell finally won (Anon, n.d.). At the same time, Philipp Reis from Germany in 1860 was also working on this invention but had faced issues with the invention (Lienhard, n.d.). While all three inventors had the idea, it was Bell who was finally successful as he was granted the patent for it and until today he is still known as the telephone inventor. Bell would not have been successful if he did not seek out ideas that surrounded him. Although he built his invention on ideas of others, he made it work while the others were not able to (Lienhard, n.d.).

Immersion is also another condition that requires one to fully be involved and spend countless hours on developing the idea (Proctor, 2005). Bell spent countless hours in his research and engaged in many scientific experiments and a profound champion for the deaf ( Staff, 2009). He was very dedicated to his work that he had poor health but it never deterred him from the inventor and scientist that he is (Anon, n.d.).

The third condition of creative thinking is seeing questions where it is linked to the fact that one’s thinking is unable to go further than the question posed. The limitations of one’s thinking due to the experience or knowledge becomes a deterrent but in creative thinking, the question is likely not the most important aspect of the process (Proctor, 2005).

On the fourth condition, the utilisation of errors which is defined by errors that eventually produce solutions and ideas (Proctor, 2005). Bell through his many years of experimentation with sound waves came about the invention of the telephone (Anon, n.d.). He was not discouraged nor was he bound by his knowledge and experience with his deaf mother (Anon, n.d.). He continued his efforts to patent his inventions and making his mark as the inventor of the telephone.

Last but not least the final condition of creative thinking is detached devotion where a copious amount of time and effort is put into solving a problem or developing an idea (Proctor, 2005). In his effort to invent the world’s the first telephone, Bell dedicated his time to research and experiment and other inventions before he arrived at a physical and working device ( Staff, 2009).

In multiple types of research, creative thinking can also be stimulated in difficult and stressful situations (Christensen, 2015). In order to stimulate creative thinking, it can be deduced that various elements contribute to this process when applied in problem-solving and coming up with creative solutions.



If an employee has a brainstorm session and thinks up a lot of new ideas, it displays creativity, however, there is no innovation unless something gets done. Someone must venture and bring something for a creative thought to be transformed into an innovation (Agbor, 2008).

It is necessary to mark the differences between the terms. Unlike creativity, innovation more refers to the cooperation of artificial structures and technological elements rather than the natural environment. It consists of computers, the internet, mobile phones, databases, and systematised processes (Lengrenzi, 2005).

It is crucial to highlight key aspects of creative thinking and innovation. Creativity stands out with:

  • ability to be tenacious despite complicated conditions
  • capability to retreat from an effort and come back later with a refreshed view
  • juxtaposing knowledge with previously contrasting areas

The two meaningful aspects which facilitate innovation:

  • slight continuous steps that include try-outs and errors
  • instant reorganisation of components or the view of new aspects (Lengrenzi, 2005)

As an instance of transition of creativity to innovation, the case of Peter Henlein should be taken. Before his innovation in watchmaking, there were other means how to calculate time such as movement of the celestial bodies or flow of water which were created by Su Sung (the year 1092) and many others. Peter Henlein, who is known as a father of modern clocks, could create springy strips made of steel. Being resilient enough, they can be bent tightly into curls. This innovation in watchmaking was fundamental and nowadays renowned all over the world (HistoryOfWatch, 2016).

To come up with a creative thought is one thing, but transmuting it into the innovation of a new creation or usage demands different individual features. These innovative people are required to have the type of mentality that can create the sequence of procedures which guide to favourable innovation (Amabile, 1988).

The case of improvement of the telephone can be discussed as an alternative example of the transformation. Johann Philipp Reis was the first creator who triumphed in creating an appliance called telephone. It allowed him to transmute hearable sounds into seeable signals. Having a special enthusiasm in the creature, Alexander Graham Bell continued working on it and eventually united the strength of electromagnetism with a gear of vibration. This was the foundation of present telephone technology. The situation accentuates how ideas emerge and how to set them on the new level (Abbott, 2016).

Transitioning creativity to innovation can be illustrated with the following scheme:


Scheme 1:  Transitioning creativity to innovation (Suvorova, 2012).


The creative process is the basic part of an innovation process. However, there are situations when innovative systems are not involved in creative activities (and creative structures are not capable of producing innovations). There cannot be an equal sign between innovation and creativity processes which take place in society (Suvorova, 2012).



Creativity and innovation are linked together to create a better product or a process for better service or procedure. There are many theorists that have tried to explain and define both ‘creativity’ and ‘innovation’ but most have different views but through this report, it is found that creativity is a part of innovation that will result in an invention or solution. In an application in a commercial setting, organisations have to take into consideration the possible blockages and resolve them to ensure a conducive environment to encourage creative inventions of products or services. Communication and collaboration between internal departments are essential in creating a smooth process to relate it to the external departments. All these factors should review and will lead a creative idea to an innovative invention.

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