The Reality of Talent: HR and Innovation

by External18 Jun 2012

A pinch of this and that: Diversity = innovative thinking

It’s believed that the first Chinese restaurant in Australia was established in Ballarat during the gold rush of the 1800s. Yet surprisingly, until well into the 1950s the wildest flavour known to the average Aussie palate consisted of an Indian curry – the result of British colonial influence.

How things have changed.

If diversity has broadened Australia’s taste buds, it’s also been beneficial for Australian business.

When it comes to innovation, diversity is mandatory. The best ideas come from the least expected sources: the hippy mum in the gypsy skirt who writes killer marketing copy; the quirky graphic designer who reconfigures the layout of the office so that impromptu, previously unheralded conversations can occur; and so on.

A good place to start is the recruitment process. While there is a correlation between intelligence and creative ability, there are other cognitive factors that have been shown to predict creativity. These include an individual’s ability to remain open to new information and ideas, and their ability to make remote associations between seemingly disparate pieces of information. In addition, an individual’s ability to suspend judgment is a predictor of their on-the-job creativity.

There are also several personality traits that have been strongly associated with creative ability. These include risk-taking, self-confidence, the ability to tolerate ambiguity, the need for achievement, and finally, the desire to work autonomously and with a lack of concern for social norms.

In addition, trust is critical. Research has shown that managers who trust their subordinates are more likely to provide the freedom required to be creative.

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