Don't waste creative energy

According to a recent Business Week article, your company can find it's true innovative thinkers by encouraging fun and games, papering the walls, and having contests to solve challenges that are posted.  And everyone should be included.  That way you find out who the truly creative, innovative thinkers are, because they may not currently have the most creative, innovative jobs.

This is great, but it's missing one thing.  Who should define the challenges?  What should people be brainstorming about?  And really, how will we know someone has provided the best solution to a challenge?  How can we tell?

Innovation and Creativity go hand-in-hand, but they are different from each other.  Innovation is doing something different that adds value to a company.  Creativity is the ability to envision something original.  Unless creativity is guided toward the right direction, we may end up with many original ideas that will not add value to the company.

How do we guide creativity in the right direction?  We need to figure out what problems, if solved, would add value to the company.  Value to the company is created by making products and services that your consumers will want to buy, and developing the offering in a way that is consistent with the corporate strategy.

It takes much more than drawing on walls for that to happen.