Adapted from “Learning to Be Creative,” first published in the Negotiation newsletter, April 2010.
In negotiation, creativity – the ability to generate new ideas – enables parties to generate solutions that expand the pie of value. Reflecting the common view that creativity is an innate talent that can’t be taught, most organizations seek out creatively minded employees rather than fostering innovation throughout the workforce.
That approach may be a missed opportunity, according to a new study by professors d.t. ogilvie of Rutgers Business School and Shalei Simms of Ramapo College of New Jersey. In their experiment, the researchers randomly assigned MBA students to four- or five-person groups. Some of the groups received a 30-minute workshop on traditional decision-making techniques that stressed systematic problem solving. The other groups were given a 30-minute workshop on creative processing that included instructions such as “have fun,” “refrain from criticizing your ideas,” and “look for new possibilities.”
Next, with each member representing a hospital department, groups negotiated a cost-allocation problem. Negotiators who had received creativity training performed better than did those who had received more traditional training. The results suggest that by exposing negotiators to creativity training and supporting their bright ideas, organizations may see improvements to their bottom lines.