What it takes to be creative and innovative



By Angelica Larios

Mexico City, Mexico

In a time of crisis or incertitude, such as the ones we live with the pandemic, people tend to create or try new ways to solve new problems. Without a doubt, one of the most evident changes has been the remote work and classes, that thanks to the current technology, the world found a way to give continuity and “normality” to this new world. For Project Managers is not different at all; not only the pandemic, but every single project we start or manage always faces challenges that we need to solve or turn around.

Of course, experience, knowledge, soft skills, and so on have a lot to do when trouble solving times come. Reaching out of previous experiences, searching for proven solutions, and asking for advice are all reasonable steps that most project managers have used several times. However, creativity is a bit of internal flame that could be cultivated when all resources have failed. We can find a better solution or even innovate in whatever we are doing as our main activity.

Innovation and creativity

Innovation and creativity are topics in vogue; everybody seems to be interested in being creative and innovative. With so many examples, such as Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, it seems like innovation is a gift and that becoming the next king of the invention comes naturally and comfortable. The truth is that no matter how easy the innovation process appears to be or is presented in front of our eyes, there is a story behind every product, service, or leader that has transformed life as we know it.

Innovation implies adopting a new idea, new procedure or behavior, or a mix of all elements described. Innovation can be put in place from different angles, such as technical innovations that include a new process and new products or services or administrative changes referring to new procedures, policies, and organizational forms, according to Jiménez. For any organization, innovation represents the opportunity to grow and survive and influence the industry’s direction significantly. Innovation is not only a weapon in competitive markets, but it can also turn out into social change, or social entrepreneurship, says Davila et al.

On the other hand, “according to expert Michalko, creativity is not an accident, not genetically determined. It is not a result of some easily learned magic trick or secret, but a consequence of your intention to be creative and your determination to learn and use creative thinking strategies.” This becomes a relevant paradigm change because, as project managers or leaders, we can be creative by using creative thinking strategies to get a different result.

The source of innovation comes from different paths

Hard-working in a specific direction. – Innovators select a problem to focus all their attention and energy to solve, pass much time thinking about several solutions or possibilities to resolve their issues, and when they have this instinct, then start the experimental phase. “The majority of innovations come from dedicated people in a field working hard to solve a well-defined problem, asserts Berkun.”

The shift in the first direction. – Often, innovators could become stubborn enough to what they want to accomplish, and its resilience makes them work almost restlessly. However, when the first direction seems far away, and they “discover” something useful in the middle of their way, they start analyzing if this invention can be helpful for others. This way, while pursuing an original idea can turn into something exciting and practical to use.

Curiosity. This motivator is like an internal motor, this innate need to know everything, be curious about the world around us, how things are made, how things can be undone, and the challenge of trying to re-build some item with old pieces. Curiosity comes from the urge to know something new, pass the time, or have fun. This way, many things have been discovered or invented as creativity can be unlimited for a curious mind.

Wealth and money. – Another source of innovation is located in the opposite spectrum. People that feel the need for recognition or power or both. This is often the case where they are searching for more related to status and money rather than creating and building something new. Some historical examples came for people more skilled in business or entrepreneurship than geniuses who wanted to solve problems.

Necessity. – Has it ever happened to your mind the idea of having something that could make your life easier in some aspect, but that does not even exist? Well, this is a necessity calling you to create something new out of nothing or out of something that already exists and is given other use. Sometimes innovator feels like if only they could have such a thing could do other activities, simplify the process, improve time and energy, or be lazier, well, there it is.

Combination. The origin of a new concept, idea, product, service, process, technology, and so is a variety of described previous factors. The innovation process can start at any point and suffer for swifts and switches that life imposes on us. In the meantime, while trying to focus, life happens and forces you to see in an opposite direction, change motivation, look for other opportunities, or get back to starting point and bingo! What was looking for it is found less expectedly.

Innovation brings many benefits to organizations, such as deeper capabilities to define and achieve strategic objectives, business model introduction, becoming more proactive rather than reactive. Eliminate much firefighting, causing other firms to react to your innovations with a new product, service, and employees who are more engaged and use a broader set of tools and techniques to accomplish strategic goals. Increase revenues and profits while retaining efficient cost management; sustained market differentiation and favorable media and press coverage; increased ability to leverage internal knowledge and external partnerships, says expert Phillips. Innovation becomes in many companies as a way of sustainability or growth; either organization innovates or dies competing with others. However, the invention must be in balance as part of an organizational strategy; not everything is innovating; not everything is the search for profits.


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How to cite this work: Larios, A. (2022). What it takes to be creative and innovative, PM World Journal, Vol. XI, Issue II, February.  Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/pmwj114-Feb2022-Larios-how-to-be-creative-and-innovative.pdf

About the Author

Angelica Larios, DSL, MBA, PMP

Mexico City, Mexico


Angelica Larios, DSL, MBA, PMP, is a project manager with more than 20 years of experience in implementing software projects related to business intelligence, planning and budgeting, and financial consolidation solutions based on software applications to support the business decision process. She is the owner of ALACONTEC, an I.T. consulting company founded in Latin America. She has held several professional positions in private and public organizations, such as the Health Ministry in Mexico as an I.T. director and a business manager for several Mexican firms.

She holds a master’s degree in business administration and a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the National University of Mexico (UNAM) in addition to her studies in project management and her Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification, which have helped her to consolidate her career and have a better understanding of what businesses and projects need nowadays. She is a doctor in strategic leadership at Regent University, VA; she has been a volunteer since 2007, starting in the local Mexico chapter, being Past President, and in several positions within PMI (CMAG, VBAC, EMAG) that supports the PMI Global Operations. Angelica has been elected as a member of BOD of the ILA (International Leadership Association) (2021-2024).

Angelica can be contacted at angelica.larios@gmail.com

To view other works by Angelica Larios, visit her author showcase in the PM World Library at https://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/angelica-larios/