Creativity on the Clock

Can inspiration be regulated? This may sound like an oxymoron, but the idea of developing a predictable cycle of innovation is exactly what software company Ovo promises it can do. The company says that it can create “sustainable, repeatable innovation processes and [implement] software applications to enable the processes.” As our lives become increasingly mechanized and mediated, the notion that worthwhile ideas can be generated on a predictable basis seems to be the ultimate control freak’s dream. But is it possible?

On closer inspection, Ovo’s software offers its users a kind of premeditated brainstorming session, custom-tailored to each user’s needs. The enormous malleability of the technology makes it possible to develop individualized processes for each company that will help them generate the ideas they need to create products or services that will keep up their bottom line.

The idea of a reliable idea cycle is not necessarily that radical. Many creative or quasi-creative industries, such as television and architecture, already have terminology for this process. Whether it’s breaking the beats of a story, or entering the concept design phase of a new architectural project, creative industries usually have a timetable which allows them to reliably produce their work. Because their ‘product’ is never exactly the same, the process becomes the most important part of their interaction as a team. By setting deadlines, these industries create their product, although the quality level varies. Those individuals and companies who are able to consistently create high-level materials gain the greatest amount of prestige in their industry. By working within the same time confines as everyone else, they still manage to outshine their peers.

This tendency seems to indicate that the most valuable asset of all is the individuals involved in the idea generation process. While Ovo’s unique slant on innovation management software promises to create reliable idea creation cycles, the real marker of success will be who is involved in these sessions. Inspiration may be regulated, but the truly brilliant ideas will still depend on the basic human dynamics of teamwork, respect, and personal genius.

Christopher Smith, CEO of, provider of enterprise content management systems

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