As we enter the third millennium, organizations have to cope with accelerating rates of change in technology and increased levels of competition on a global scale more than ever before. In order to stay competitive within this changing business environment, organizations are forced to constantly pursue new strategies to differentiate themselves from their competition, such as offering a stream of new products and services (Satzinger et al., 1999). Furthermore, there is growing recognition that an organization’s capability to deal with change, improve services and quality, cut costs, develop new products, and compete in a global market will depend upon the level of creative and innovative thinking of its workforce (Covey, 1989). In short, in order to remain competitive in an era of increasing uncertainty and market globalization, organizations must constantly be creative and innovative with their products and services. Software has been widely considered as central to all sophisticated innovations. In the age of the Internet the challenge is to identify and evaluate new ideas, processes and applications. In many of the fastest growing industries, including computer, entertainment, communications, advertising, logistics and finance, software has been the end product itself, or the highest value component in the end product. In other cases, software has been used to support value creation and innovation processes. The growing importance of software-based innovations suggests the need to improve the creative skills of IT professionals. This need, in turn, requires an appropriate response from the IT education and training sector. Moreover, IT education and training should better nurture students’ creativity, so that they can be successful in their future roles as innovative professionals and business people. It is particularly important that IT students be given an opportunity to develop and apply creative and innovative skills to software processes and products. Given the crucial importance of creativity and innovativeness for success in a knowledge economy, the main purpose of this article is to explore concepts about creativity and how they relate to software development by providing empirical research examples in IT education.
Concept Of Creativity
The literature offers diverse conceptual definitions of creativity. Glass (2001) argues that creativity is hard to define, hard to judge and hard to quantize. Kappel and Rubenstein (1999) reason that this is due to fact that creativity is used to describe a variety of things; that is, supporting the creativity process, the creative person or the creative product present different requirements for the definition of the creativity. Tomas (1999), for example, defines creativity in terms of an original idea. Shalley and Perry-Smith (2001) point out that it is not enough to only be original; also, appropriateness is vital in order to distinguish creative ideas from surreal ideas that may be unique, but have unlawful or highly unrealistic implications.
Central to creativity is the ability to generate ideas. Some psychologists and philosophers have argued that idea formation can be explained by way of association (Mednick & Mednick, 1964). This theory suggests that association occurs when two stimuli take place together (contiguity), when two stimuli are similar to each other (similarity), or when two stimuli are different from each other (contrast). Associations may be stimulated by environmental factors, by previous associations, or may be mediated by ideas related to other associates. Therefore, it is possible to have many combinations and permutations. Associations can vary in strength, depending on how often associated ideas occur together or separately.
Lateral thinking is an aid to creativity when one needs to have diverse ideas. It is a function of knowledge and imagination that may bring out discovery, innovation, imagination, and exploration. Lateral thinking consists of seeking as many alternative options as possible to the extent of one’s adventurousness. In other words, it is a mental activity involving making connections between knowledge and ideas that were previously unrelated. The basis of lateral thinking is that since many problems require a different perspective to be solved successfully, individuals should suspend their judgment about what is relevant to a course of action.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Internet: A worldwide network of computer networks that use the TCP/IP network protocols to facilitate data transmission. It provides access to a vast amount of information resources including multimedia (movies, sound, and images), software, text documents, news articles, electronic journal, travel information and so forth. It also provides an environment for buying and selling products and services over a network.
Knowledge Economy: Economic growth is driven by the accumulation of knowledge, which is the basic form of capital. A knowledge driven economy is one in which the generation and exploitation of knowledge plays the predominant part in the creation of wealth.
Creativity: There are many views about the definition of creativity. In the context of discovery, creativity is the ability to generate or recognize ideas, alternatives that might be useful solving problems. There are several aspects of creativity, including creative product or value, creative person/people, creative environment, creative symbols and creative process.
Electronic Brainstorming Systems (EBS): A computer-based system that facilitates brainstorming between group members.
Knowledge Management (KM): The collection of processes that manage the creation, dissemination, and utilization of knowledge for learning, problem solving, and decision-making. KM often encompasses identifying intellectual assets within organizations. The management of knowledge is regarded as a main source of competitive advantage for organizations. KM brings together three organizational resources: people, process and technologies, and enables the organization to use and share information more effectively
Information System (IS): A system that uses IT to capture, transmit, store, retrieve, manipulate or display data for business processes in an organization.
Information technology (IT): Computer hardware and software, as well as the peripheral devices closely associated with computer-based systems that facilitate data processing tasks, such as capturing, transmitting, storing, retrieving, manipulating or displaying data. IT includes matters concerned with design, development, and implementation of information systems and applications.