To develop and improve creativity and pioneering innovation skills that labour markets demand at the individual level, this crash course includes a creativity audit to measure current levels of creativity and five techniques that can be used to develop the creativity soft skills that businesses value at individual level. The audit tool can be used periodically to measure progress and the techniques offer the flexibility to be used repeatedly by changing topics and increasing complexity and difficulty.

This chapter provides the following for presenting a crash course in creativity development at the individual level:

II.1-2: The soft skills most important at the individual level and their importance in the labour market
II.3: Learning objectives for students and HEI staff developing creativity soft skills at the individual level
II.4-6: Course structure, learning method and delivery 
III. Lesson plan
IV.1: Learning content
IV.2A: How the specific soft skills can be developed/taught and measured/assessed
IV.2B: Strategies for teaching the soft skills required for business and work life at the individual, level
IV.3: Activities/exercises to increase creativity at the individual level
IV.4: Additional resources

Technical information for the chapter

Creativity at the individual level can be described as the generation of ideas that are novel and useful. Useful ideas show potential for achieving desirable results using either a recombination of existing or introduction of new materials. Creativity is an active process involved in innovation, however creative individuals may not necessarily innovative. Innovation refers to the successful implementation of creative ideas. Only ideas that meet the criteria of novelty, usefulness and appropriateness are considered predecessors to innovation.

In work life, creativity is linked more closely to innovation. Creativity at the individual level can manifest in:

  1. openness to new experiences: considered the most strongly linked to creativity, an open-minded employee shows curiosity, originality, nonconformity, active imagination, aesthetic sensitivity, and preference for variety. A highly open-minded worker is noticeably broad minded, curious, and untraditional.  
  2. divergent thinking: ability to create “outside-of-the-box” ideas.
  3. cognitive style: the way individuals think, perceive, and remember information; an individual’s problem-solving and decision-making approaches. 
  4. intrinsic motivation: the drive to keep up with difficult tasks, take risks, and overcome obstacles. 

This crash course on creativity at the individual level offers exercises to develop the following five soft skills necessary for creativity in individuals.

Adaptability—the ability to adjust to new conditions. This includes traits such as flexibility; openness; and tolerance of ambiguity, uncertainty and complexity.

Attentiveness— the action of paying close attention to something. This includes traits such as the ability to focus; attention to detail; observation; thoroughness; listening skills; consistency; dedication; patience; and commitment.

Critical Thinking— objective analysis, synthesis and evaluation. This includes making connections and lateral thinking.

Inventiveness— the quality of being inventive; creativity. This includes divergent thinking; innovation; originality; resourcefulness; imagination; vision; and thinking outside the box.

Problem-solving— the process of finding solutions to difficult or complex problems. This includes conflict resolution; systematic approaches; and logical goal-oriented thinking.

The World Economic Forum 2016 Future of Jobs Report, predicted that creativity would be the third most important skill employees need to thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, following complex problem solving and critical thinking (which are both skills utilised in creativity). Findings from LinkedIn Learning (2018) posit that creativity will be a top skill in the future as automation eliminates a lot of repetitive work. The emergence of new products, technologies and ways of working forces workers to become more creative amidst rapid changes.

Businesses that want to grow must harness creativity as it enables teams to drive innovation in many ways, whether to find new approaches to essential business problems, develop products or services, or improve existing procedures. Creativity equips employees to solve their customers’ biggest challenges, while reducing costs and automating repetitive tasks. Encouraging creativity in the workplace can help businesses develop unique, innovative and competitive solutions to stand out from their competitors. 

Here are some benefits that creativity and pioneering skills can offer in the work place:

  • Identifying new opportunities: Creative-thinking techniques challenge individuals’ conventional or current ways of thinking. This helps companies spot new and unique opportunities. 
  • Embracing challenges and uncertainty: Creativity offers a willingness to try, to take risks, and to fail. Experimentation allows individuals to test new ideas and options to ultimately find the best solutions. 
  • Promoting innovation: A creative mindset enables individuals to look at things from different angles to create something new. Companies that promote innovation internally and externally can generate excitement for their offerings and differentiate themselves from their competitors.
  • Stimulating thinking in day-to-day practices: Creativity encourages employees to look for ideas in everything, hence they need to pay close and careful attention to small details or patterns. This leads to inspiration for new ideas and innovations.
  • Improving collaboration: As creativity promotes open-mindedness and curiosity, employees show more willingness to listen attentively and try others’ ideas. This reduces judgments, increases tolerance and facilitates collaboration among individuals.

Workers who lack vital creativity skills will find themselves at a competitive disadvantage in the employment market, work life and in advancing in their careers.

Benefits for academic staff: 

  • Increased innovativeness in one’s own teaching.
  • Offers a way to bridge the gap between subject teaching and preparing students for careers.
  • Audit tool gives a concrete measure of creativity at the individual level.

Benefits for students 

  • Valuing creativity in the classroom encourages students’ expression of opinions and ideas.
  • Mastery-goal assessment structure emphasises self-improvement and skills development and focuses on learning and not on grading. This assessment provides useful feedback on students’ progress and enhances levels of curiosity, motivation, enjoyment and interest, contributing to the development of creativity at the individual level.
  • Fosters students’ independence and empowers them to take risks, leaving room for mistakes and improvements.
  1. Introduction to creativity and pioneering innovation at the individual level: Why creativity and innovative pioneering are essential for career and working life
  2. Assess student baseline creativity skills with the innCREA audit tool
  3. Teach the five techniques in this course or select exercises based on student results (i.e. skills assessed as needing improvement to be matched with exercises intended to improve those skills) 
  4. Implement individual exercises
  5. Assess student creativity skills with the innCREA audit tool after completion of the creativity exercises and compare to starting baseline results
  6. Students fill out course evaluation forms
  • Audit tool assesses areas for development; implementation of techniques chosen to enhance specific soft skills
  • Each exercise is presented with exemplary case studies to demonstrate the possibilities of the technique.
  • Templates are available for student use for each exercise. Templates may be resized, printed on paper and/or used electronically.
  • The exercises can be taught online, blended or off-line. More time may be allowed for completing the activities as homework. 
  • The study of biomimicry, one of the techniques, can be greatly enhanced by having students go into nature with their sketchbooks and cameras to study nature up close and in person.
  • Teach online, blended or off-line.
  • Lecture + exercises, possible homework 
  • Activities completed in classroom or elsewhere. Biomimicry can be taught outdoors. Moodboards could utilise magazines, scissors, glue, etc.
  • Any of the five exercises suitable for one or more students working by themselves or in pairs or groups.

Lesson plan

1Introduction to topic and assessment with audit tool

PPT – Slides
15 min.
2Students use the audit tool to assess their starting baseline levels of creativity

internet access and devices for all participants to use audit tool
3Exercise 1: moodboard (for project predetermined by instructor)

Optional pre-assignment: notify students in advance of the topic (i.e. imagine your dream store) and to think about how this project might look

Template, magazines, scissors, glue; or can be completed on a computer using images gathered online.
25 min.Can present technique and then have students complete in class or as homework.

Students work individually or in pairs
BREAK[10 min.]
4Exercise 2: Six Questions (for topic(s) predetermined by instructor)

PPT – Slides; template
25 min.Can present technique and then have students complete in class or as homework.

Students work in pairs or small groups of 3
5.1Exercise 3: Biomimicry
Part 1: introduction to the technique
Part 2: student fieldwork as homework (or add time to do as a class activity)

PPT – Slides; template
15 min. in class instructionIf teaching in 45 minute blocks, this can be reconfigured to be assigned 3rd meeting and discussed on the 4th

Fieldwork can be done as a class with students working in pairs or groups or students do task on their own and prepare to share results next class meeting
BREAK — until next meeting if teaching in 2 1.5-hour blocks
5.2Exercise 3: Biomimicry
Part 3: student presentations and class discussion
10 min.
6Exercise 4: Morphological analysis (for topic(s) predetermined by instructor)

PPT – Slides; template
30 min.Option to show example and then do the exercise with the students as a group lead by the instructor

Or students can work individually, in pairs or groups
BREAK[10 min.]
7Exercise 5: SCAMPER (for topic(s) predetermined by instructor)

PPT – Slides; template
30 min.Students can work in pairs or small groups
8Wrap up & Session Evaluation

Handout – Session Evaluation Form
10 min.Option to retest with audit tool
TOTAL:180 min.3 hrs 0 mins

Learning content for the chapter

This crash course provides five creativity and pioneering innovation techniques to enhance soft skills at the individual level in: 

1. adaptability (biomimicry, moodboard, SCAMPER, Six Questions); 
2. attentiveness (biomimicry, morphological analysis, Six Questions); 
3. critical thinking (biomimicry, moodboard, morphological analysis, SCAMPER, Six Questions); 
4. inventiveness (biomimicry, morphological analysis); and 
5. problem-solving (biomimicry, moodboard, morphological analysis, Six Questions). 

These skills have been judged to be especially important to develop at the individual level and the exercises for the chapter have been chosen for their efficacy in enhancing these skills at the individual level. 

Developing these five skills using the five techniques presented in this crash course will help to bridge the gap between the skills businesses require of individuals in the labour market today and in the future, and the hard skills students learn in their courses of study. Increasing their creative abilities will give students an advantage going forward in work life.

Features of the training:

  • The innCREA audit tool can be used to assess which skills are in greatest need of development. The course is intended to allow the flexibility to choose to do all or some of the activities with students.
  • The lesson plan offers an opportunity to try out the techniques in the classroom or online. After implementation, skills may be reassessed with the audit tool.
  • Moodboard and Six Questions are relatively easy and quick to complete; for Morphology and SCAMPER difficulty and time needed will vary depending on case; and Biomimicry could prove challenging and time intensive. Any of the techniques offer the flexibility for more complexity and longer duration to complete.

Creativity and pioneering innovation manifest differently in higher education and work environments. In short, in educational contexts, creativity is shown in behaviour and attitude, or the ability to find new and effective solutions to everyday problems, e.g. different ways to solve an exercise or an ability to make connections between existing knowledge and new information. In work life, the concept of creativity is more closely associated with innovation, which refers to an ability to generate novel ideas and implement them. This helps users to adjust applications based on contexts. For instance, Moodboard, when used in the class room, assists students to observe patterns while at work it helps in logo creation.

Both students and workers need autonomy and freedom to express their ideas, tolerance towards failures, and supportive environments. They additionally require sufficient knowledge to develop new ideas and implement them. The exercises in the crash course satisfy the aforementioned criteria.

A. How to update teaching strategies

  • Utilise the innCREA audit tool to assess levels of creativity both before and after executing the crash course.
  • Drawing upon suggestions from O2 interviews 
  • Teaching should focus on giving more space for students to develop critical thinking skills. Innovative teachers appreciate and welcome ideas. They foster students’ independence and empower them to take risks, leaving a room for mistakes and improvements. 
  • Grading systems should be de-emphasised as they increase the fear of failure and hinder creativity in students. A mastery-goal assessment structure emphasises self-improvement and skills development and provides useful feedback on students’ progress and enhances levels of curiosity, motivation, enjoyment and interest, contributing to the development of creativity.
  • Creativity should be practical and address real-life problems and ways to solve them. This will add value to the endeavour and also bridge the gap between skills that businesses need from their employees and those that students learn in HEIs.

B. How to adjust the levels of the techniques, make them more impactful.

  • When feasible, and if the exercise is particularly challenging, allow students to work in pairs or small groups so they can generate more ideas collectively.
  • Perform walk-throughs of the exercises with the students using the templates to better-familiarise them with the tasks.
  • Set clear and achievable objectives.
  • Present case studies to increase understanding of how applications of the techniques work in practice.
  • Topics can be given to students to match their level from more accessible to more challenging.

1.    Moodboards

A moodboard is a visual collage for presenting the essence and idea of something, for example, of a dream house, a dream job or a person.

2.    Six questions

Six Questions questions stimulate thinking by allowing users to see a problem from different perspectives. The technique is also known as 5W1H.

3.    Morphological analysis

Morphological Analysis looks for solutions through novel combinations of different elements of a product/process/service.


The SCAMPER method is a collection of nine idea-spurring prompts for transforming any object, service, or process into something new.

5.    Biomimicry

Biomimicry is a creativity technique which takes inspiration from the solutions in nature for product development.

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