A Critical Comparison of Two Creativity Methods for Fostering Participatory Innovation: Implications to Improve TRIZ

  • Anna-Maija NisulaEmail author
  • Aino Kianto


We present an empirical study in which we contrast two creativity methods, the lateral thinking method and the improvisational theatre method, to investigate their applicability for advancing participatory innovation. While both of the contrasted methods aim to increase creativity as a means of improving participative innovation, they differ in terms of their conceptualisations of creativity, goals and processes. We propose that these two methods could complement the weaknesses of the TRIZ method (theory of inventive problem solving), especially in cases in which diverse experts gather to innovate, solve problems and generate new knowledge for shared goals. We illustrate the utilisation of the methods by reporting two creative development workshops. The paper sheds light on methods for fostering creative participatory innovation and highlights the collective nature of co-creation in participatory innovation. In addition, the paper suggests how the studied participative co-creative methods could be useful in improving the TRIZ method.


  1. 1.
    Catmull E (2008) How Pixar fosters collective creativity. Harvard Business School Publishing, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Harvey S (2014) Creative synthesis: exploring the process of extraordinary group creativity. Acad Manag Rev 39(3):324–343CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Robbins P, O’Gorman C (2015) Innovating the innovation process: an organisational experiment in global pharma pursuing radical innovation. R&D Manag 45(1):76–93CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Romero D, Molina A (2009) Value co-creation and co-innovation: linking networked organisations and customer communities. In: Working conference on virtual enterprises. Springer, Berlin, pp 401–412Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Bessant J, Caffyn S, Gallagher M (2001) An evolutionary model of continuous improvement behaviour. Technovation 21(2):67–77CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Kesting P, Parm Ulhøi J (2010) Employee-driven innovation: extending the license to foster innovation. Manag Decis 48(1):65–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Bessant J (2003) Challenges in innovation management. The International Handbook on Innovation, pp 761–774CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Bessant J, Caffyn S (1997) High-involvement innovation through continuous improvement. Int J Technol Manag 14(1):7–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Tidd J, Bessant J (2009) Managing innovation: integrating technological, market and organizational change. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Griffin A, Hauser JR (1993) The voice of the customer. Mark Sci 12(1):1–27CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Von Hippel E (1988) The sources of innovation. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Buur J, Matthews B (2008) Participatory innovation. Int J Innov Manag 12(3):255–273CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Dougherty D, Dunne DD (2011) Organizing ecologies of complex innovation. Organ Sci 22(5):1214–1223CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Hargadon AB, Bechky BA (2006) When collections of creatives become creative collectives: a field study of problem solving at work. Organ Sci 17(4):484–500CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Amabile TM (1983) The social psychology of creativity: a componential conceptualization. J Pers Soc Psychol 45(2):357–376CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Oldham GR, Cummings A (1996) Employee creativity: personal and contextual factors at work. Acad Manag J 39(3):607–634Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Styhre A, Sundgren M (2005) Managing creativity in organizations: critique and practices. Palgrave Macmillan, BasingstokeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Altshuller G (1999) The innovation algorithm: TRIZ, systematic innovation and technical creativity. Technical Innovation Center, Inc, Worcester, MAGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Ilevbare IM, Probert D, Phaal R (2013) A review of TRIZ, and its benefits and challenges in practice. Technovation 33(2):30–37CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Savransky SD (2000) Engineering of creativity: introduction to TRIZ methodology of inventive problem solving. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FLCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Arnold M, Barth V (2012) Open innovation in urban energy systems. Energ Effic 5(3):351–364CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    West J, Bogers M (2014) Leveraging external sources of innovation: a review of research on open innovation. J Prod Innov Manag 31(4):814–831CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Ezickson J (2005) Deploying innovation and inventive thinking in organisations—applying TRIZ to non-technical fields of business. TRIZCON2005. Accessed 30 Nov 2011
  24. 24.
    de Bono E (1992) Serious creativity. Using the power of lateral thinking to create new ideas. HarperCollins Publishers, Fontana, CAGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Sawyer RK, DeZutter S (2009) Distributed creativity: how collective creations emerge from collaboration. Psychol Aesthet Creat Arts 3(2):81–92CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Hallgren EW (2009) How to use an innovation audit as a learning tool: a case study of enhancing high-involvement innovation. Creat Innov Manag 18(1):48–58CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Guilford JP (1950) Creativity. Am Psychol 5(9):444–454CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    John-Steiner V (2000) Creative collaboration. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Paulus PB, Yang HC (2000) Idea generation in groups: a basis for creativity in organizations. Organ Behav Hum Decis Process 82(1):76–87CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Friis P (2006) Presence and spontaneity in improvisational work. In: Shaw P, Stacey R (eds) Experiencing risk, spontaneity and improvisation in organizational change. Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, LondonGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Nisula AM, Kianto A (2018) Stimulating organisational creativity with theatrical improvisation. J Bus Res 85:484–493CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Johnstone K (1979) Impro: improvisation and the theatre. Routledge, Theatre Arts Books, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Spolin V (1977) Improvisation for the theatre: a handbook of teaching and directing techniques. Pitman Publishing Limited, LondonGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Weick KE (1993) Organisational redesign as improvisation. In: Huber GP, Click WH (eds) Organisational change and redesign. Ideas and insights for improving performance. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 346–379Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Yanow D (2001) Learning in and from improvising: lessons from theatre for organisational learning. Reflections 2(4):58–65CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Koppett (2001) Training to imagine. Practical improvisational theatre techniques to enhance creativity, teamwork, leadership, and learning. Stylus Publishing, LLC, Sterling, VAGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Provost LP, Sproul RM (1996) Creativity and improvement: a vital link. Qual Prog 29:17–23Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Amabile TM (1998) How to kill creativity, vol 87. Harvard Business School Publishing, Boston, MAGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Deleuze G, Guattari F (1988) A thousand plateaus: capitalism and schizophrenia. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, MIGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Bissola R, Imperatori B (2011) Organizing individual and collective creativity: flying in the face of creativity clichés. Creat Innov Manag J 20:77–89CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    West MA, Altink WMM (1996) Innovation at work: individual, group, organizational and socio-historical perspectives. Eur J Work Organ Psy 5:3–11CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    West MA, Richter AW (2011) Team climate and effectiveness outcomes. Sage, Thousand Oaks, CACrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Yin RK (1994) Discovering the future of the case study method in evaluation research. Eval Pract 15(3):283–290CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Yin RK (2003) Case study research: design and methods, 3rd edn. Sage, Thousand Oaks, CAGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Bandura A (1997) Self-efficacy: the exercise of control. Macmillan, LondonGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Business and ManagementLappeenranta University of TechnologyLappeenrantaFinland

Personalised recommendations