Governments lead the way in creativity and innovation in Middle East

Managing and promoting creative working requires organisations to gain a deeper understanding of the drivers and barriers to innovation, writes Dr Mark Batey of Manchester Business School.

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Governments lead the way in creativity and innovation in Middle East Batey: Innovation programs require skills development and training for key staff.
By  Dr Mark Batey Published  September 16, 2015

Is creativity a strategic priority?

The Boston Consulting Group Strategy Survey (2010) and the 15th Global CEO Survey by PwC (2012) found creativity and innovation to be primary strategic aims. Why? Because creativity equals profit.

As one respondent in the Ernst & Young (2010) survey suggested: “We assume that 50% of our revenue in five years’ time must come from sources that do not exist today. That is why we innovate.”

Can creativity be trained?

Research studies have shown that creativity can be trained. Scott, Leritz& Mumford (2004) found that creativity training programmes produced improvements on everything from attitudes towards the importance of creativity at work through to improvements in job performance.

What is the best way to train people to be creative?

The simplest and most effective way to train people to be more creative, is to start with some key principles and then develop skills and confidence in creative thinking. I prefer to work with individuals and teams, by teaching them creative thinking tools whilst working on real challenges and opportunities. They learn what they need to do, while the organisation has a stream of new ideas and solutions to can implement.

What are the biggest barriers to creativity at work?

The first and most fundamental barrier, is that people do not understand that they are creative themselves and do not have the confidence and skills to be creative at work. The second major barrier is that organisations do not understand how to identify, nurture, manage and develop creative thinking skills.

As the 15th Global CEO Survey by PwC (2012) found…“Overall, one in three CEOs say they are concerned that a skills gap is hampering the ability to innovate, and with innovation identified as a key strategic priority for most companies to get them out of the global economic slump, it is unsurprising that talent shortages are seen as a top threat to business expansion”.

How do you build a culture of creativity?

Creativity provides the ideas that allow for innovation. So how do we build a culture of creativity? This requires matching bottom-up processes with top-down processes.

Top-down processes are the formal practices that help to form the culture. Mission, vision, values, etc., Organisations are normally very good at including creativity and innovation in their mission, vision and values but do not match these top-down approaches with bottom-up, grass roots creativity development.

To match the mission and vision from the top, individuals and teams need to be diagnosed and trained to develop their creativity skills.

Dr Mark Batey is a creativity specialist at Manchester Business School and is currently leading an MBS Middle East Centre research programme into the drivers and barriers of creativity and innovation in the GCC. He can be contacted at

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