Creativity, Imagination and Transformation


(from Disruption, Change & Transformation in Organisations: A Human Relations Perspective)

Advances in Project Management Series


By Andrew Day

United Kingdom


This article is based on chapter 11 of my book Disruption, Change & Transformation in Organisations: A Human Relations Perspective.  In the book I explore the questions of how people respond to, cope with and adapt to sudden, dramatic and disruptive organisational change. My central argument is that we (individuals, groups, organisations and societies) are struggling to adapt as we shift from the industrial into the digital age and as globalisation continues unabated.  Since the book was published in December 2019, the global pandemic has further disrupted our lives and escalated our sense of uncertainty.  We are fighting to make sense of and to cope with what is happening to us and around us. The situation demands that we adapt and transform organisations and institutions.  This calls for creativity, imagination and learning on the part of individual employees and that we develop social systems that support creativity.

Creativity, imagination and transformation

“Anxiety is the hand maiden of creativity”
– T.S. Elliot

Creativity is a critical characteristic of life and is necessary for its preservation (Capra & Luisi, 2014).  Indeed, part of the human condition is our impulse to explore our environments and to be creative. The psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott (1971) believed that it is this capacity for creativity that makes the individual feel that life is worth living. Expressing our creative potential gives us a sense of vitality.

Permanence, equilibrium and stability is not a natural state of life. Organisations, like living systems, adapt to their environments. If they simply repeat what worked in the past, they decline, degenerate and eventually die. Some level of transformation and change is therefore critical to the long-term survival of organisations.

The creative instinct lies at the heart of organisation transformation. As it requires the:

  • discovery of something new and different about ourselves and our worlds
  • the capacity to imagine different outcomes and new possibilities
  • identification of where we place limits on our perceptions and our ability to act, and
  • exploration of the consequences of removing these limits.

At a psychological level, this demands a shift in our inner world, our beliefs and assumptions about ourselves and others. At a sociological level, it reconfigures the social norms and assumptions that govern how we organise ourselves.

Creative potential, hope and anxiety

Our ability to imagine alternative futures is at the heart of the creative process. A creative tension arises when the present, as we experience it, is different to the future we imagine (Fritz, 1989). This generates the energy that is necessary for transformations. For instance, I am currently working with a leading UK Charity that is transforming itself from a relatively hierarchical and static organisation that is organised around several legacy sites and services to become a more flexible and digital organisation that is organised as a network and delivers its services in partnership with local and national partners.  At the heart of the transformation lies the leadership team’s capacity to imagine a very different future that is grounded in the needs of their customers.  Realising it however requires everyone to think, act and relate to each other very differently.


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Editor’s note: The Advances in Project Management series includes articles by authors of program and project management books published by Routledge worldwide. Their contributions to the PMWJ are coordinated by Prof Darren Dalcher, Lancaster University Management School, UK.

How to cite this article: Day, A. (2021). Creativity, imagination and transformation, PM World Journal, Vol. X, Issue III, March. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/pmwj103-Mar2021-Day-creativity-imagination-and-transformation.pdf

 About the Author

Andrew Day

United Kingdom


 Andrew Day is an Organisation Development Consultant and Executive Coach who specialises in helping leaders, teams and organisations to transform and develop.  He is a partner in Metalogue Consulting.  Previously, he has been the Director of the OD Consulting Practice at Ashridge Business School and Head of Organisational Psychology at Ford of Europe.  He is both a Chartered Occupational Psychologist and a Chartered Counselling Psychologist.