Chasing creativity in the workplace –– what’s ambiguity got to do with it?

Source: Loliloli via Wikimedia Commons


Creative ideas sometimes emerge because someone directly and explicitly asks us to come up with a new idea. It could be we’re asked to help solve a pesky problem, or to generate suggestions for how to make the most of a recently discovered opportunity. At other times, creative ideas have a more spontaneous birth –– they emerge impromptu and are freely volunteered, though no one explicitly called for them.

Creativity of the first “directly requested” kind reflects what a researcher, back in 2001, called “responsive creativity.” This occurs when people are directly challenged, required, or otherwise externally tasked with coming up with ideas to address the requirements of a situation. For example, an organized focus group or a planned brainstorming session would mostly lead to responsive creativity.

Creativity of the second kind reflects a more “proactive creativity.” This could be when suggestions for an innovative process or a new procedure are volunteered, from someone’s own internal initiative and observations, without any direct external prompting.

Two kinds of creativity — at work

Responsive and proactive creativity can strongly shape our own and our collective welfare, whether it be at home, at play, or at work. But what factors foster and fuel each of them?

—> For more, see Wilma’s Psychology Today blog post here: Ambiguity at Work: Friend, Foe, or a Bit of Both?