Project Management

Getting the Creativity You Need

Mark Mullaly is president of Interthink Consulting Incorporated, an organizational development and change firm specializing in the creation of effective organizational project management solutions. Since 1990, it has worked with companies throughout North America to develop, enhance and implement effective project management tools, processes, structures and capabilities. Mark was most recently co-lead investigator of the Value of Project Management research project sponsored by PMI. You can read more of his writing at

Quick. Be creative. Go.

That seems like an odd imperative. To many, it seems like an incredibly difficult imperative. We don't assume that we can be creative on demand. It doesn't feel like something that can be planned for or scheduled. The presumption is that we need to be in the right headspace to be creative.

Popular culture plays a significant role in sustaining this perception. We think of the tortured artist, alone in their garret, struggling to find their muse. They wrestle with the ability to produce the perfect work that will cement their reputation and demonstrate their unique genius for decades and centuries to come. That makes for great fiction, of course, but it's not typically how creative artists work.

The reality is that creativity can and does happen on a schedule. It can be prompted into awareness and action. You can be creative on demand, and you can inspire and encourage—even require, if need be—creativity in others. The trick is knowing how it is actually done. This means defining what it is that we are looking for in the first place.

Creativity is the act of bringing something new into the world. Where we get messed up in interpreting that idea is that we see new as being "never before seen." The reality is that, in the vast majority of instances, creativity is synthesizing and adapting ideas that already …

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"Thus the metric system did not really catch on in the States, unless you count the increasing popularity of the nine-millimeter bullet."

- Dave Barry