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Shaking up the status quo

Leading creativity can be paradoxical because it often includes destruction, uncertainty, and conflicts, says professor of practice Niina Nurmi.
Professor of Practice Niina Nurmi Photo: Jaakko Kahilaniemi
’Radical creativity destroys the status quo, confuses the social order and organizational identity by suggesting ideas that differ substantially from an organization’s existing practices’, says professor of Practice Niina Nurmi Photo: Jaakko Kahilaniemi

I study the changing nature of work and its impacts on organisations, teams, and individuals. Technological advances and Covid-19 have recently made virtual work (where employees interact at a distance using technology-mediated communication) the “new normal” for most knowledge workers.

Such extensive changes in the world of work raise questions about how organising can and should happen in the future, including questions related to leadership, teamwork, and work design.

Leading creativity can be paradoxical because it often includes destruction, uncertainty, and conflicts – elements that traditional management tries to minimise in order to secure organisational functioning.

Radical or “divergent” creativity destroys the status quo, confuses the social order and organisational identity by suggesting ideas that differ substantially from an organisation’s existing practices. Incremental or “adaptive” ideas, in contrast, imply few changes in frameworks and offer only minor modifications to existing practices and products, and are therefore easier to manage.

Incremental creativity requires exploitative and efficient processes, while radical creativity requires exploration, risk-taking, and differentiation from existing practices.

Niina Nurmi
Professor of Practice, International Design Business Management
School of Business

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Radical creativity illustration: Anna Muchenikova
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