034 – Gaia Grant – Innovation & Creativity

Who Killed Creativity & The Innovation Race

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Innovation. It rates pretty highly as a business buzzword of our time. So I wanted to dig into it. To find out what it means for organisations. For individuals. And in the context of the modern commercial environment.

My guest in this episode is Gaia Grant who  – along with her husband Andrew – published Who Killed Creativity in 2011 and this month will release The Innovation Race.

I hit Gaia with all the big questions – Who killed creativity? Is it even dead? What’s the link between creativity and innovation? Is innovation a race – and if it is, who’s winning?

And most importantly, what can leaders in organisations do to ensure they are giving themselves the best possible chance to create an environment that supports purposeful innovation?

Not only does Gaia provide some impressive responses to these questions, she provides a tangible framework to help you assess, develop and monitor the critical innovation enablers amongst your people and your organisation.

Gaia Grant talks creativity and innovation on the Team Guru Podcast

Lessons Learned

Here’s what I took from the episode:

Who Killed Creativity?

While it might be a bridge too far to pronounce ‘creativity’ as dead – a number of reports confirm that it is at least very unwell

Up until the 1990s the general Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and Creativity Quotient (CQ) were both on the rise across the population

Since the 1990s the IQ has continued to rise while CQ has fallen

We lose our creativity across our lifetime – 98% of children aged 2-5 are considered geniuses when it comes to creative thinking while in adults (25+) that number is only 2%

What is Innovation?

Innovation is coming up with something new and different that has an impact. It’s a practical outcome of the creative process

In the western capitalist world we are on a path of continuous economic growth therefore there is a need for exponential rates of innovation merely to stay afloat. Like a clock that ticks ever faster

We need to come up with ideas and get them to implementation stage just in order to survive

It’s all in the Walk

Research has shown that the average walking pace had gotten faster and faster. And the cities with the fastest walking pace are the world’s top innovators

Innovative Culture

There is no one way to create an ‘innovative culture’

Different cultures have gone about creativity and innovation in very different ways

Not all cultures around the world want to innovate in the same way western capitalist societies do. Their culture is more focused on preservation

The western way of innovating can be characterised as very competitive – think Shark Tank. It is less about meeting needs and more about creating to beat the competition and meet desires

In capitalist economies we have fallen into the trap of innovating for the sake of innovating

Innovating with purpose – companies that focus on purpose and sustainability in innovation out perform other companies by 70%

Check out the article I mentioned in the episode about the world’s most innovative companies


Blockers and Enablers for an Innovative Culture

Two cultural approaches:

Exploitation – push or squeeze what we currently do to the next level

Exploration – different opportunities, leading to breakthrough innovation

Innovation Framework

4 paradoxical principles. It’s important for leaders to navigate between these two extremes:

Freedom v Control

Stability v Flexibility

Focus v Openness

Individualism v Group Engagement


It is critically important that leaders develop an awareness: Where are we now? Where do we need to be – in relation to the 4 paradoxical principles above?

Find Gaia





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