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Everyone needs to be responsible for innovation. It doesn’t matter what your job is. It’s still part of your work to improve things and even invent things, says author and creativity expert Gregg Fraley in the latest Creativity in Business interview.

Interview #17 in the Creativity in Business thought leader series is with Gregg Fraley, creativity and innovation practitioner; author of Jack’s Notebook, a highly endorsed business novel about creative problem solving; and partner at The Innovise Guys – bridging innovation with improvisational comedy.

Fraley assists organizations with innovation initiatives and new product development, and writes a blog on innovation topics. Gregg is an in-demand consultant, ideation facilitator and speaker whose ideation sessions have produced previously elusive breakthroughs and market leading products. Among his many roles, he’s a leader and speaker at the annual Creative Problem Solving Institute (CPSI), and former board member of the Creative Education Foundation.

Q: How does your work relate to creativity?

Fraley: Creativity is what’s required to innovate, so, my job is to inspire and bring out the innate creativity that people have – and focus that thinking to resolve challenges.

Q: What do you see as the new paradigm of work?

Fraley: People integrating what they do with what they love. If there isn’t some love, or care, involved in what you do, you’re starting from a very bad place. Even when you are stuck in a job that isn’t your first choice, there are ways to make connections to what you love and what you might wish to do, and it’s your responsibility to do that. Nobody can do it for you.

The golden rule of creativity is to do what your heart desires. When you and your team are coming from that place, innovation happens organically. Beyond that, I think people need to be responsible for innovation – it doesn’t matter what your job is – it’s still part of your work to improve things and even invent things.

Q: What do you see the role of creativity in that paradigm?

Fraley: Creativity is the spring. Innovation is the bottled water. Creativity is continually expressed in balanced people, and that creativity will manifest as innovation if the organization values ideas and makes the systematic effort to take action on them.

Q: What attitudes and behaviors do you see as particularly essential for effectively navigating the new work paradigm?

Fraley: Openness, respect for others, taking personal responsibility, integrity, and transparency.

Q: What is one technique that people could start applying today to bring more creativity into their work or their business organization?

Fraley: Well, it’s obvious, but it’s often ignored, and that’s simply keeping track of your ideas. If you are a small business it could be as simple as a notebook, Word document, or a spreadsheet. If we’re talking a larger organization, I’d suggest implementing an idea management system (such as Brightidea.com or Imaginatik). In my view you’re not doing formal innovation if you don’t have a repository for ideas, and the repository isn’t actively managed. Creativity is like a lot of other behaviors, as soon as you start tracking it or paying closer attention to it, it grows.

Q: Finally, what is creative leadership to you?

Fraley: Creative leadership to me is the management of thinking diversity. By this I mean, it’s essential to have thinking diversity, and then, to respect and leverage the wide variety of creative thoughts that come from such a group. I believe in leading by example, and so, a good creative leader would generate a lot of ideas, would respect the ideas of others, and would demonstrate openness, curiosity, and affirmative judgment. Finally a creative leader is a person of action. Ideas are useless until you do something with them.

You can learn more about Gregg Fraley at his website. The Creativity in Business Thought Leader Interview Series is conducted by business creativity catalyst, Michelle James, CEO of The Center for Creative Emergence and founder of Quantum Leap Business Improv.

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