Creative thinking is one of the greatest assets in the ability to solve problems. DJI International is a leading manufacturer of building materials for a number of industries. In order to remain globally competitive, the group must find new ways to improve quality, improve sustainability standards, and to seek new growth opportunities in ASEAN countries. The building materials sector is highly competitive. In order to achieve their goals DJI International must find ways to increase creativity and innovation in order to resolve the problems associated with this planned expansion.
DJI Company Background
DJI International began in 1989 as a manufacturer and distributor of building material in many industries. Their product line includes raised flooring systems, water-based resins, water resistant flooring, silicon-rubber waterproofing paint, soft resin mortar for waterproofing, and high-strength epoxy flooring. The vision of the group is to improve the quality of its products and services in a commitment to excellence. Innovative management and teamwork will both play a role in their ability to do this.
In addition to improvements in quality, DJI’s team of architects and engineers are continually searching for new ideas and processes to add to the company’s offerings. The group believes that trust is the most important issue in regards to their customers. They believe that improving the
quality of their products and services is an important issue in the ability to build trust among their customers. A commitment to developing processes that are environmentally sound is also an important element in building trust among consumers by showing a commitment to the future.
The company has recently diversified its offerings of products and materials in Malaysia. It has also achieved ISO 9002 certification and is exporting products to 6 countries in the Asian Pacific and to 4 countries in the Middle East. It continues to establish new distribution centers throughout ASEAN countries. The group continues to increase its research and development activities in all facets of product design and innovation. The current problem that it faces is the addition of value-added products, as well as improving current production techniques and processes based in Taiwan. The group wishes to continue its globalization plan and to increase research and development activities in all facets of both product design and process innovation at its Taiwan based operations. It wishes to increase and improve the quality of its products and services in Malaysia, and it hopes to position itself as a leader in Taiwan, with products offered on the international market.
Creative Problem Solving
When it comes to solving business problems, there are two basic approaches. The first is the process known as strategic problem solving, which takes an analytical approach. The second type of problem solving is creative problem solving. This process is most often associated with the brainstorming process. This is the process where the person or team simply dumps as many ideas as they can onto a list and then from this list, determine which of these solutions is the best for their purposes. Both the strategic and creative problem solving processes are a valid way to solve creative problems, but the creative problem solving process is more than simply a data dump of the brain. It involves a process that combines elements of strategic problem solving and creative problem solving (Baumgartner 2013).
Baumgartner (2013) has developed a seven-step creative problem solving process that involves identifying the problem, researching the problem, formulating the creative challenges, generating ideas, combining and evaluating ideas, drawing up an action plan, and implementing the ideas. This process has several steps in common with strategic problem solving processes in that it defines the problem, researches the problem, develops potential solutions, and then formulates the best action plan based on those solutions. Using a process-based approach has advantages, one of which is making certain that the solutions are directly related to the problem to be solved. In the case of DJI, this means improving quality, developing certain segments of the business, and improving environmental sustainability to increase customer trust.
An important element of problem solving is to clearly define the problem and to develop a way to measure the results in a meaningful way. Using a processed based approach to innovation is an important element of finding solutions to a definable problem, but creativity and innovation go beyond a problem solving process. The creative process depends on the ability to consistently generate creative ideas to solve the problems. The process is useful in putting the ideas to work, but it does not necessarily feed the creativity of the people involved. The process helps to turn creative ideas into knowledge that can be used to solve a problem. The problem that companies face is how to develop an environment that encourages the generation of ideas that can be used in the problem solving process.
Creativity and problem solving are closely related topics, but they are not the same. Creativity allows the person the ability to adapt to a changing environment. The main question is what companies such as DJI can do to promote and environment where creativity and innovation flow in order to solve the problems that the business faces. One study found that creative employees are proactive in developing a system of information exchange and psychological safety attitudes in order to maintain individual creativity in face of anticipated changes (Cheung, et al., 2010). The study found that employees that engaged with more frequent information exchange built stronger trust relationships with their superiors and equals (Gong, et al, 2010). This translates into a need to build an atmosphere that encourages communication and knowledge exchange at DJI in order to facilitate creativity among the staff.
Developing an atmosphere that encourages individual creativity is essential in developing innovation and creativity in the organization, but in order to reach the goals that DJI has set forth will take a team approach. The next problem to be solved is how to transform creative individuals into creative teams. Gong et al. (2012) examined this problem in a study that explored a bottom-up process for linking individual creativity to team creativity. The study involved research and development teams. The study found that team creativity and innovation was directly linked to the existence of a team learning goal and team performance approach goal. The existence of a team performance avoidance goal was negatively related to both team and individual creativity (Gong et al., 2012). The study also found that higher levels of team leader trust were associated with higher levels of creativity. Higher average individual creativity was linked to higher team creativity. The development of a supportive organizational culture for creativity was linked to higher levels of team creativity (Gong et al., 2012).
This research found that it is possible to create an atmosphere within the organization that promote higher levels of creativity and innovation within the organization. Creating an atmosphere that encourages creativity is an important step in developing the creativity that DJI needs to obtain its current goals in regards to expanding and developing a greater competitive advantage in the international markets. This research suggests that certain actions can be taken by DJI in order to develop the creativity and innovation that the company will need to achieve its goals in the future. The central challenge in the ability to do this lies in transforming theory into organizational practice. The following recommendations will help the organization to take actionable steps to increasing creativity and innovation in the organization.
The problem faced by DJI is how to increase creativity and innovation in order to meet the challenges that it faces in improving quality, increasing the products and services that it offers, while meeting the goals of environmental sustainability. While the process-oriented components of a strategic approach will help to define the problems in measurable terms, the strategic approach will not necessarily result in the generation of the most effective ideas or solutions to the problem. The company needs to create an environment that promotes innovation and creativity both on a team and an individual level within the organization.
The research indicates that it is possible to create an atmosphere that promotes creativity within the organization. The foundation of this type of atmosphere is the facilitation of communication and knowledge exchange. This means encouraging employees to develop and present their ideas to management. This will require a more open-door policy by the managers and team leaders that uses a bottom-up, rather than a top-down approach to organizational management. The leaders and managers must be responsive to the needs and ideas of the employees in order to encourage them to be more creative in their thinking process. Creativity needs to be rewarded as much as productivity within the organization.
Open communication and knowledge exchange are the first step to increasing creativity and innovation within the organization. The next step is to develop a formal process for applying these creative solutions to the business process. This involves the development of teach creativity goals and performance goals. This formalized process will allow the organization to capture the ideas generated by the creative process and to transform them into a plan of action. This portion of the creative process can borrow from strategic management processes. The first stage of the process is defining the creative problem that needs to be solved. The next step is developing creative goals for individuals and teams. An example of a creative goal might be to generate five potential solutions for a certain problem. At this point, the ideas are not judged, or analyzed, the process is only interested in the quantity of ideas generated. The ideas can be later analyzed and then a decision can be made as to which of the ideas will be the best solution to the problem. An action plan can be developed from the chosen solution.
Developing trust between team leaders and team members was found to be an important element of the creative process. Communication and the ability to express ideas freely and without repercussion is an essential element in this process. Promoting an organizational atmosphere that rewards and encourages the expression of ideas is the most important element in the development of this trust regarding creativity. Employees must feel that their ideas will be considered in order to feel like an important part of the team. Developing the confidence that ideas will be welcomed is an essential component of developing creativity within the organization.
In conclusion, the ability of DJI to improve and maintain their competitive advantage on the international marketplace depends on the ability to develop creative and innovation strategies. The ability to encourage creativity in the organization extends beyond the research and development team. It means creating an organizational culture where ideas are welcomed and employees can trust that their ideas will be considered with respect. The organization needs to recognize that good ideas can come from anywhere and that the generation of ideas is a different step in the process from the analysis of those ideas. The free generation of ideas depends on communication and knowledge exchange within the organization. Once ideas can be generated, a process can be involved in turning individual into team creativity. Team creativity can then be transformed into creative solutions for the company.
- Baumgartner, J. 2013. The Basics of Creative Problem Solving (CPS). InnovationManagement.se. [online] Available at: < http://www.innovationmanagement.se/imtool-articles/the-basics-of-creative-problem-solving-cps/ >. [Accessed 31 December 2015].
- Gong, Y., Cheung, SY., Wang, M. and Huang, JC. 2010. Unfolding the Proactive Process for Creativity. Journal of Management. 38 (5): 1611-1633. [ejournal]. Available at: < http://jom.sagepub.com/content/38/5/1611.short >. [Accessed 31 December 2015].
- Gong, Y., Kim, TY., Lee, DR., and Zhy, J. 2012. A Multilevel Model of Team Goal Orientation, Information Exchange, and Creativity. Academy of Management Journal. 56 (3): 827-851. [ejournal]. Available at: < http://amj.aom.org/content/56/3/827.short >. [Accessed 31 December 2015].