Why More Business Schools Are Teaching Creativity

The following is a guest post by Tiffany Rowe. Tiffany is a Marketing Administrator at Seek Visibility, where she assists clients in contributing resourceful content throughout the web.

At first glance, it might appear that the concepts of creativity and business school are incompatible at best, if not completely contradictory. And while it’s true that some aspects of business, like finance, accounting, and law, have little room for creativity, the fact is that creativity is actually a vital part of any successful enterprise.

In fact, creativity has become so important for entrepreneurs that many business schools have begun adding courses and lessons in creativity and creative thinking to their curriculums. While there is some debate as to whether creativity and innovation can be taught, the fact that business schools are embracing the concept – and incorporating the concepts into more “traditional” business subjects such as leadership and management – indicates that it’s become a vital part of the modern business landscape.

Why Creativity Matters to Entrepreneurs

Millions of words have been written about what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur, most of them boiling down to a few key concepts: Persistence, leadership, passion, etc. Yet there is a growing sense that while these are important traits, creativity is actually the most important factor for successful entrepreneurship. The ability to consistently use your imagination and see the world and its challenges through a variety of lenses can take your business further than you ever thought it could go.

Now you might be thinking, “Well obviously creativity is important for entrepreneurs. They need to come up with new ideas to be successful!”  While innovation and new business ideas are certainly important, creativity is beneficial to entrepreneurs in other ways.

The value of failure. Thomas Edison famously said, “I have not failed 10,000 times. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Becoming an entrepreneur means being willing to take on risk – and being willing to fail. Not every idea you have is going to be a winner. However, by building your creative skills, you build a higher tolerance for risk – and learn more from the ideas that don’t work. If you box yourself into doing only what you “know,” your chances of finding success diminish.

The ability to pivot. Again, not every idea you try is going to work. Or maybe you try something that works for a while, but then it slows down. Entrepreneurship requires quick thinking and the ability to pivot and change directions to remain competitive.

The ability to think divergently. Creative thinking is vital to solving organizational problems, from interpersonal conflict to overzealous competitors. However, most businesses tend to focus on convergent thinking – thinking that is highly analytical and focused on finding the one accurate answer to the question at hand. Yet research shows that combining convergent thinking with divergent thinking – that is, exploring many possible solutions to the problem – is the best way to solve problems and create solutions that meet everyone’s needs. In fact, divergent thinking is important to your business overall: Successful businesses are those that can solve problems in new and innovate ways; in other words, by divergent thinking.

Improved team morale and productivity. No one likes to be constrained into a box of limited ideas, where they must do things the same way because “that’s how it’s always been done.” By encouraging creativity in your startup, you help keep your employees happy and more productive, since they can find better ways to complete the same tasks.

Creativity in the Business School Environment

Given the benefits of creativity to entrepreneurs, it’s no wonder that the best online MBA programs are incorporating more training in creative thinking into their curriculums. For instance, the business incubator is not a new concept, but more students than ever before are taking advantage of the “safe” environment to explore new ideas and refine their business plans.

In fact, business schools in general are developing a more entrepreneurial focus, as more students are coming in wanting to start their own businesses. Rather than teaching the same set of standards that have governed business for decades, schools are now encouraging students to question their assumptions and the status quo. MBA programs are now less about the theoretical, and more about experiential and experimental: Students are encouraged to apply their ideas and test their theories, and discover new ideas and solutions. In short, business schools have become less focused on the “ideal” business, and more about developing a new worldview and understanding that can influence our businesses – and that requires a great deal of creative thinking.

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