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The book, Leading on the Creative Edge: Gaining Competitive Advantage through the Power of Creative Problem Solving is attributed to Firestien, Roger as the author. The book’s first edition was initially published in 1996 by Pinon Press. Roger Firestien is a PhD holder and leader of the Innovation Systems Group. He is also an associate professor at the New York’s Center of Studies in Creativity, Buffalo State College. Firestien is also a notable consultant and speaker and has also designed numerous programs on creative problem-solving. Presentations on these designs have been made to several thousands of audiences across Europe and the Americas. Leading on the Creative Edge is one of the seventy books that Firestien has authored.
In the book, Leading on the Creative Edge: Gaining Competitive Advantage through the Power of Creative Problem Solving, Firestien is categorical that creativity is a value that is useful even in leadership and business or management strategies. To this extent, organizations that ultimately succeed are those that inject creativity into their workforce, in lieu of those with an immense pool of wealth. The veracity of the matter is seen in the ensuing discourse.
The use and inculcation of the creative edge by employers precludes other organizational assets in bringing about organizational success, growth and stability, by the virtue of having utmost importance.
Golden Nugget Quotes
The book has many golden nuggets, as shall be seen in the three examples given. “When you determine concerns about an idea, phrase your concerns as you would phrase a question or problem statement. This way, your mind will immediately start to look for ways to overcome the concern instead of disregarding the entire idea” (Firestien, 2004, p. 3).
“One of the best active methods of generating ideas is brainstorming. The group creative problem solving technique was developed by Alex Osborn. To use brainstorming effectively, it is important to: defer judgment; strive for quantity; freewheel for ideas; and build on other ideas” (Firestien, 2004, p. 5).
“Evaluate ideas of others by considering the Pluses or strengths of ideas first; then list the Potentials in the idea; before listing the concerns” (Firestien, 2004, p. 3).
One of the contributions that Firestien makes is underscoring and teaching the importance of creativity over an immense pool of assets or resources. According to Firestien, organizational leaders had a vital role in the development and strengthening of their protégés’ creativity. This is regardless of the kind of organization that one may be leading. This is because the organization can be as large as a multi-million dollar organization or as less formal organization such as a volunteering program, a non-profit organization or a little league. Depending on the leader’s predisposition to nurture or destroy the creativity of their protégés, the extent to which an employee can become an effective leader is already determined.
Firestien also underlines the importance of creativity in fostering the flow of information within an organization. According to Firestien, nurturing creativity in leadership brings about an aspect of teamwork and team spirit. Teamwork inculcates a sense of togetherness and belonging among employees. In turn, this feeling of togetherness helps employees to make contributions for the effective running of the organization. There is a lot of helpful information that is churned, in the event that employees in an organization have decided to embrace participatory development. As the leader engages his protégés in embracing creativity, participatory development is readily produced and embraced.
Firestien also explains that an effective model of creativity comprises the four P’s: person, process, product and press. Firestien specifies the qualities describing a person as, “How people are creative; how creative someone is; the characteristics associated with creative people.” He qualifies the attributes that describe a process as, “How people create or can use and apply their creativity.” Firestien further divulges that the qualities of product are, “The artifact of creativity; what a creative product is; what makes something creative; how to tell if something is creative.” He goes on to specify the attributes that make up the press as, “The climate surrounding a person, a process and product, in which creativity flourishes or is squelched” (Firestien, 2004 p. 2).
One of the strengths of the book and the arguments thereof is that leading by using a creative edge helps in the formation and observation of creative problem-solving techniques. Creative problem-solving techniques can in turn be used to move through challenges, opportunities and challenges, in order to bring about a creative action. Because of this, the creative edge helps leaders to nurture a creative environment through the generation of multiple ideas. The same also explains how mishaps and mistakes can effectively aid the exaction of creative action.
Another point of strength that can be seen in Firestien’s work is the ability of the book or his work to inform, guide, inspire and encourage leaders and organizations to engage creativity and imagination which may be latent within an organization. This, Firestien does by discussing how the 4 P’s (person, process, product and press) can be used to the advantage of the organization. Because of this, the book has been instrumental in helping organizations enhance their profits through important management facets such as innovative management, creative leadership and participatory development.
Another feather in the book’s cap is that it captures an array of facets and organizational dynamics. In this light, the book does not grapple with localized organizational realities, but also with global dynamics such as challenges and dynamics of a global market. Because of this, Firestien offers mechanisms by which a manager or a leader can employ creative strategies by unlocking the untapped creative power of the people being led and enabling these
Like any other piece of literary work, Firestien’s Leading on the Creative Edge has its own drawbacks and pitfalls. One of the pitfalls of the book is that it lacks an aspect of empiricism. This is seen by a relative absence of research activities that accosts the pages of the book. Because of this, it is difficult to establish the difference between organizations that use the Creative Edge in managing employees and organizational strategies and synergies and those that do not. Because of this, it is difficult to make a delineation of the nexus between creative management and organizational success.
Because of the immediately aforementioned gap, it is possible for polemicists and critics to use the lacuna above to advance the counterargument to the effect that not all organizations have thrived, become stable and successful because of the use of creative edge. In this light, other alternatives such as effective talent management and leadership styles such as transformational leadership, democratization of the workplace and environment, bureaucracy, sustainable development and participatory development may be (and are equally) cited as the very cause of organizational revival, stability, growth and ultimate success. This atrophies Firestien’s overall argument and thesis.
Again, Firestien does not devote his efforts and pages to tackle other factors or constructs that may shape the productivity of a business. Some of the constructs that are relevant to the outcome of organizational management and success include the market environment, the marketing and organizational strategies used and the size of organizational resources and synergy. All these constructs are relevant to organizational success and will also determine the manner in which the management will apply its creative streak.
The theme of the book is that the effective use of the creative edge by employers precludes other organizational assets in bringing about organizational success, growth and stability, by the virtue of having utmost importance. However, while Firestien goes about to establish the importance and essence of the creative edge, he fails to give a brief case study on organizations that have had a relatively immense pool of resources and assets but failed to exhibit maximum profitability, success or stability because of the failure to use the creative edge.
The book is important because it elucidates the fact that there are non-monetary factors that dictate the stability, growth and success of an organization. By this virtue, the book establishes the correlation between the use of the creative edge and organizational success. The theme is underscored long-term solutions to recurrent or intimidating setbacks are demystified in respect to the use of the management’s creative edge. The book therefore serves as a source of inspiration and a guide to managements with fledgling firms or troubled firms.
The foregoing clearly emphasizes the importance of nurturing a creative edge in an organizational setup. Firestien makes it clear that the point of departure between successful and unsuccessful organizations is not the immense pool of resources at the organization’s disposal, but creativity. The comprehensive aspect of this creative edge is seen in the manner in which it encompasses important facets of organizational management such as human resources management, financial planning, public relations (vis-à-vis, corporate social responsibility) and sales and marketing strategies.
Firestien, R. (2004). Leading on the Creative Edge: Gaining Competitive Advantage through the Power of Creative Problem Solving. Colorado: Pinon Press.
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