So, we’re working to increase the creative capacity of the Scottish Government (more about that in a previous post). But how do we know when we’ve actually done that? Well, that’s a very good question, I’m glad you asked.
The measurement of creativity is challenging, not least because of the number of elements that support a creative culture within an organisation. In fact, it feels a bit like nailing jelly to a herd of cats (OK, I’m mixing my analogies a bit there, and attempting to attach any kind of tasty dessert-type treat to one or more moggies, is not something I would ever advocate, but you get my meaning).
Let’s break it down a bit. We can divide potential creativity measures into three main categories:
- The conditions that foster creativity and innovation
- Creative activity
- The outcomes of creativity
We’ll explore the first of these in this post and pick up 2 and 3 next week.
Measuring the conditions that foster creativity and innovation
Our ‘Key Insights’ research suggested a number of recurring themes in relation to the organisational factors that, working in combination, foster creativity and innovation. The research also suggested types of indicators that we might measure in relation to these factors.
1. Organisational prioritisation of the creative process
- Is this is an organisation that is committed to creativity and innovation?
- Is the organisation clear about the outcomes that it wants from creativity and innovation?
- Are creativity and innovation rewarded in performance management?
- To what extent does the organisational culture accept and learn from failure without blame?
- Do informal organisational norms allow innovators to promote change, or will this kind of behaviour impact negatively on them?
- Is there enough scope to be innovative in the delivery of work (eg, is there ‘space’ to innovate, or are delivery mechanisms prescribed)?
- Does the organisation allow innovation through outcomes rather than outputs?
- Do organisational rules allow for fast-paced change, or are there significant hurdles to overcome at each stage of the process?
- Do organisational rules allow people to challenge the status quo and initiate innovation?
- Are there systems in place to collect ideas from staff, members of the public and other stakeholders?
- Does the organisation actively participate in forums to exchange ideas with other organisations?
- What is the investment (time, money, staff) in creativity and innovation? This might include consumer or market research, research and development (R&D), consultancy and collaboration programmes with universities or other external research units and skills training.
2. Staff: skills, capability, etc
- Do staff have the skills and confidence to innovate?
- Do enough staff have the skills in using tools and techniques to generate ideas and manage their translation into public value? If not, are resources available to secure these skills?
- Is there sufficient ‘risk capital’ to support innovation?
- Average change in personnel numbers.
- Number of training sessions related to innovation hosted by the organisation, as a percentage of total sessions.
3. Technological infrastructure (including access to and use of ICT)
- ICT expenditure as a percentage of administrative costs.
- Website and intranet expenditure as a percentage of total ICT expenditure.
- Average age of ICT equipment.
- Replacement time for ICT equipment.
4. Staff and stakeholder perceptions
The evidence indicates a link between employee engagement and organisational performance, with creativity and innovation part of the overall picture of ‘performance’ (see, for example, MacLeod and Clarke, 2009). Thus, improving employee engagement might be expected to lead to greater creativity. Trends in staff survey results over time might, therefore, provide a measure of whether the organisation is improving in terms of displaying (some of) the characteristics of a creative organisation.
But often there will be no ‘objective’ measure of the organisational conditions that foster creativity and innovation. For example, to answer the question ‘Is there enough scope to be innovative in the delivery of work?’, realistically, the best way for us to measure this may be to ask people what their views are on this issue.
Even where more ‘objective’ measures are available, people’s views are important as it is often the case that ‘perception is reality’ when it comes to determining how people actually behave. For example, if staff, stakeholders and the public do not feel that their ideas are valued (even if we had other evidence to indicate that their views are actually valued), then they are unlikely to make the effort to put their views forward.
Next week, we’ll have a look measuring creative activity and outcomes. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Have you attempted to measure creativity in your organisation? If so, how did you go about it?
MacLeod, D. and Clarke, N. (2009). Engaging for success: enhancing performance through employee engagement. London: Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. [Accessed on 1 February 2015 from http://www.engageforsuccess.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/file52215.pdf]
Lesley Thomson is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.