Following on from Creativity+Humanity, we asked our speakers about what they think creativity is, as well as about their specialist subjects. Dr. Gorkan Ahmetoglu, Assistant Professor of I/O and Business Psychology at UCL, delved into the ‘entrepreneurial mind-set’ and the importance of employee well being.
What does creativity mean to you?
The most important element of creativity in my view is originality. For an idea to be creative, it first and foremost has to be new/original. We can think of originality as the difference between an idea to all other ideas. In that sense, originality varies in degree – with some ideas being more original than others. The other component of creativity is usefulness. I could have the extremely original idea of selling tree leaves for instance; this is original because very few people would have such an idea. Yet, we know that no one would buy tree leaves. So, the idea is original but useless. Like originality, usefulness also varies in degree with some ideas being more useful than others.
Some people will have many useful ideas – for instance, some occupations require constant problem solving and therefore useful/practical solutions. Yet, a highly practical person may never have very original ideas. Therefore, when we think of true creativity we often think of not only high usefulness, but also high originality. In my view, individuals who are able to balance the highly useful and highly original ideas who are the most creative, because on average they will produce the most consistent creative output.
How does corporate innovation impact employee well being?
We have clear evidence that an innovation culture produces engagement. Engagement is not the same as well being but certainly is a good predictor of it. That is, the more engaged you are at work – the more healthy and happy you will be psychologically (and physically). There is a clear link between positive affect and creativity, so that when people are in a positive mood or emotional state, they are far more likely to be creative. I believe that the same can be said on the reverse: that is, the more creative you are, the more positive emotionally you feel. Innovation cultures generally involve higher autonomy, because to have more creativity, you almost by definition need more autonomy. There is also clear evidence that autonomy is one of the most important components for employee well-being. Accordingly, the culture of innovation almost by definition will lead to well being.
What is the most interesting piece of data you found when looking at how to identify entrepreneurial talent?
These are the top things that I find very interesting:
The most common is an observation: that most people (including academics) don’t distinguish between the words entrepreneur and entrepreneurial. Yet we see that most entrepreneurs aren’t very entrepreneurial at all; in fact, data indicates that 98% of entrepreneurs even have a motive to innovate (let alone innovate). Many entrepreneurial people work within organisations (even if they are often not managed as they should be).
Some recent data that shows that highly successful entrepreneurs are those who are simply less pessimistic (about opportunities, about their chances of success, and about the future).
Data that shows the nature of entrepreneurial people in general. Some examples: entrepreneurial people are no higher on IQ than less entrepreneurial people. Entrepreneurial people are higher on Primary Psychopathy than less entrepreneurial people – that is, they are feel less empathy and are more manipulative. Note that this is a non-clinical definition of Psychopathy (we all have some level of it).
However, they are no different on Secondary Psychopathy (which is being reckless, taking risks, and getting into trouble). That being entrepreneurial can predict whether you earn more as an employee or are more successful as entrepreneur than IQ.