Creative leadership: Workshop presentation

May 4, 2007

How dependent is new product development on creativity, team working, and collaboration? The UK Arts and Humanities Research Council is sponsoring a series of workshops exploring such issues. On May 3rd, 2007, Tudor Rickards presented findings on creative leadership, drawing on extensive studies of MBA project teams at The Manchester Business School.

Background

Salford, once famous for the much-loved TV soap Coronation Street, has taken on a high-tech image. Its vision of a Media-city helped it to beat its larger neighbour Manchester for the prized rehousing of a large chunk of the BBC’s operations. Salford Quays, walking district from Manchester United’s Old Trafford ‘Theatre of Dreams’, has become a trendy waterside address.

The workshop

On May 3rd 2007, Salford University hosted a workshop on the roles of team-working and collaboration in new product development. An invited group of fifty designers, managers and academics took part in the event, which is one of three workshops exploring creativity in design and new product development, sponsored by the British Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Participants were encouraged in advance of the workshop to visit the Leaders We Deserve blog. The presentation on creativity in work groups was crafted to the specified interests of the participants at the workshop. You can access the presentation here, (complete with date error on slide 1)

Creative Leadership and The Manchester Method

Manchester Business School has developed an approach to management education which involves its students in ‘living cases’ through working on projects with organizational sponsors. The design helps integrate direct business experiences with more traditional classroom lectures. The workshop learned of the spin-off findings for creative leadership in business projects.

The research questions

Two research questions were addressed:

How might team creativity be liberated through the application of structured approaches (such as brainstorming and Lateral thinking)?

How might creativity in project teams be assessed?

Experience from several hundred projects over three decades, suggested that a structured creativity approach ‘works’ if the team has a process leader, who is primarily concerned with setting a creative climate for the team, and who helps the team members collaborate and achieve ‘yes and’ rather than ‘either-or’ results from working together.

Assessment of team creativity and creative leadership is carried out through a team factors inventory which has helped identify factors associated with effective team leadership and team performance.

Creative leadership and intrinsic motivation

It was suggested that effective creative leadership provides space within which intrinsic motivation and creativity of team members flourish. The leadership style is characterized as invitational, and trust-based.

Conclusions

Creative leadership remains a topic open to further applied studies. The Manchester Business School approach offers a promising template for such research.


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