How we create and innovateInnovate header

This section of the site looks at what it means to be creative and innovative. Innovation and creativity are key parts of the University’s Strategic Plan and Talent First people strategy, and there are lots of inspiring case studies you can read on the breadth and depth of work being carried out across the University.

However, it is easy to slip into viewing innovations as the big, world-changing activities that come out of the research done at Sheffield, but at its simplest level, innovation is just about doing something new. This obviously includes the big things, but it also includes the little changes we make to try new things to help improve how we do our jobs.

If innovating is the act of trying something new, then creativity is the skill of generating new ideas to try out. Creativity is about being inventive and imaginative, but also about having the time and space to think and generate these ideas.

Please find below information for you to use, covering skills development related to creativity and innovation, as well as some examples of these skills in practice. It would be great to hear some of your stories about how you create and innovate, or how this is supported in your work area, so please get in touch at Join the conversation.

Learning events

Learning events are an opportunity for you to meet with colleagues who would like to develop their skills in a similar area to you, and will give you opportunities to put this learning into practice in a structured and supportive environment.

The learning event may require you to do some prior reading, and all will rely on you being ready to contribute and get involved when you attend. We look forward to meeting you and working with you.

Click on the link to find out more and to book your place.

Idea generation

Innovate eventsCreative problem solving techniques

This learning event, delivered by the University's Process Improvement Unit, will show you how to use a range of practical tools to generate lots of ideas. The training will also provide some tools to help you prioritise the implementation of your ideas. Come prepared to talk about something for which you would like to generate new ideas and approaches.


Below are some videos relating to creativity and innovation. Some are thought-provoking, providing insight from individuals, whereas others contain more practical information and guidance. We also have resources for managers to help with creativity and innovation in relation to how you manage people, processes or planning.

To keep things interesting, we will be adding to and changing these videos over time, so keep checking back.

If you find an interesting video, we would love to hear about it. Share it with us on the Google+ community, or you can email us the link if you want at

Thought provoking

Where good ideas come from

Author Steven Johnson outlines how he thinks ideas are generated, and where innovations come from.

Innovate videos halfTaking imagination seriously

This talk, by artist Janet Echelman, tells the story of how some missing paints forced her to use a radically different and unusual material.

Innovate videos halfThere are no mistakes on the bandstand

Jazz musician Stefon Harris uses musical examples to highlight the importance of others in the creative process, and how they can influence the development of ideas.

Innovate videos halfWhat makes an inventor tick?

 These are two interviews with experts on invention, filmed by The Money Programme as part of the 'Britain's Big Ideas Boom' series.

Innovate videos halfCreativity

A series of videos and articles from TED about where creativity comes from and how to nurture it.

Practical information and guidance

Brainstorming techniques: How to get more out of brainstorming

This practical guide from provides tools and tips to help you brainstorm effectively.

Innovate videos halfMind mapping

Mind maps help you review information quickly and efficiently, as well as seeing the connections between different topics. This short video from introduces the technique.

Innovate videos halfCreativity bootcamp

Think you're not creative? Think again! Creativity is a skill—one you can develop with practice. And all it takes to start flexing your creative muscles is an hour of your time and our own Creativity Bootcamp. In this fun, hands-on course, creative director Stefan Mumaw guides you through five interactive training exercises that will help you (and a partner!) boost your creative output and produce even more innovative ideas. You'll explore some common misconceptions about creativity, learn the hidden value of the "stupid idea," and, through the course of the exercises, discover the three bootcamp commands for energizing your creative process.

Managing People

How to create a creativity dream team

This three minute video introduces team-working as a way to boost your creativity, by harnessing the brainpower of other members of a diverse team.

Innovate videos halfManaging team creativity

Creativity is not a gift, it is a skill developed over time. This 20 minute video course, provides nine simple tips to boost you and your team’s creative output.

Managing processes

Learn to innovate

This short video gives some insight into the benefits of building innovation into your management activities.

Innovate videos halfLearning Design Thinking: Lead change in your organisation

This course gives an alternative way to think about problem solving, focusing on the needs of users. It covers collaboration, concept creation and prototyping.

Managing planning

Innovate videos halfSolving business problems

This course introduces a five step process for solving problems, to help you lead through times of uncertainty.

Useful guides

We subscribe to a Useful Guides library which provides a range of workbooks on a variety of topics. For the full list visit the Useful Guides library website (you will need to enter your username and password to access it), but highlighted below are some guides which may help you with being creative and innovative.

Click on any of the images to be taken to the library.

A useful guide to being influential Being influential

Sometimes it's not easy to get others to listen to your ideas. This useful guide gives you five simple techniques to get your message across in ways that will make people sit up and take notice.

A useful guide to communicating effectivelyCommunicating effectively

Innovation can be supported by working effectively with other people. This guide will give you tools, tips and techniques to help you get the best out of your relationships with others.

A useful guide to effective changeEffective change

This document guides you through the key stages of the change process, from the generation of ides, through to planning and implementation. Treating your innovations as a change process may help with implementing them.

A useful guide to feedback Feedback

This guide is focussed around when and how to give feedback to others. This may help you to give effective feedback on the ideas that others have, but also what kind of feedback you need on your ideas.

A useful guide to interviewingInterviewing

This guide is about interviewing for recruitment, but you might find some of the skills and techniques useful as a way to find out information from other people.

A useful guide to LinkedInLinkedIn

LinkedIn can be a useful way to make connections, networks and collaborations with other people. This guide shows you how to get the most out of LinkedIn, and how to use it to your advantage.

A useful guide to managing projectsManaging projects

Implementing your innovations may involve an element of project management. This guide will give you an overview of how to start, manage and complete projects successfully.

A useful guide to negotiatingNegotiating effectively

This guide will prepare you to be able to negotiate effectively with others, to help you reach shared understanding. This may be of use when trying to convince others as part of the implementation of your innovation.

A useful guide to networkingNetworking

This guide will provide an insight into the skills required for networking, as well as outlining the benefits to you of building up a collaborative network.

A useful guide to personal brandingPersonal branding

Personal branding is a method of self-help, improvement and personal promotion to help promote you as an individual, and build your reputation.

A useful guide to problem solvingProblem solving

This guide contains a practical process for solving problems you may be facing. It may be of particular help when you're trying to come up with an innovative solution, but have got a bit stuck.

A useful guide to public speakingPublic speaking

You may need to tell people about your innovations. This useful guide covers how to plan and deliver effective speeches, that convey the message you intend to.

A useful guide to report writingReport writing

This useful guide shows you how to write well using some simple and effective tools and techniques so you can consistently deliver readable reports which will be appreciated by those reading them.

A useful guide to SWOT analysisSWOT Analysis

SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) is a popular 4-box strategy analysis and development model, that may help you gain insights into the implications of your innovation.

These are just a selection of the 40 useful guides available.

We really want to hear what you think of these guides, so please fill in the feedback form on the Useful Guides site, or visit our Join the conversation page.

Web resources

This page is split into three sections. This first list of resources covers some background information about what creativity and innovation is in theory and in practice. The second section is about the nitty gritty of creativity and innovation, and provides some tools and techniques you can use in your work and to encourage your teams to be creative. The final section contains some links and information about smartphone and tablet apps that might be of interest to you.

What is creativity and innovation?

Innovate web halfCreative thinking techniques

This page covers lots of different ways to think creatively, with a particular focus on brainstorming techniques.

Innovate web halfCreativity at work

There are masses of resources on this site, including how to foster an atmosphere of creativity, and more practical tools and tips.

I found the 'Seven habits of highly creative people', and 'What is creativity' articles particularly interesting.

Tools and techniques

Innovate web halfThe 7 All-time Greatest Ideation Techniques

A bold claim, but this site lists seven different ways to help you generate creative ideas.

Innovate web halfSix Techniques to Sharpen and Expand Your Innovation Instincts

This page brings a few simple ideas together for ways to think differently about how to approach situations where creativity is required, and also suggests some further reading.

Innovate web halfCreativity techniques

The tools in these webpages might be helpful in helping you to develop your creativity, specifically focussed around creating new theories, technologies or ideas.

Innovate web halfInnovation Excellence blog

Innovation Excellence is a blog with a range of contributors focusing on enterprise innovation.

Innovate web halfInnovate on purpose blog

Innovate on Purpose is a blog focusing on ideas, conversations and approaches for sustainable, repeatable innovation.

Innovate web halfWhy diversity is the mother of creativity

This article talks about how diversity of thought and perspectives leads to more creative solutions, which you may find helpful in thinking about how to promote diversity within your teams.

Creativity and innovation apps

Innovate web halfCLEAR IDEAS

This iPad app gives you a way to use the CLEAR IDEAS framework to approach problem solving in a creative way. CLEAR IDEAS has been developed over a decade of research by the Management School's Dr Kamal Birdi.

Innovate web halfMindtools

This app gives you the opportunity to access skills development in a wide range of areas.

Innovate web halfCreativity on the Run: 18 Apps that Support the Creative Process

This blog post lists 18 apps that you can use to support you in the creative process.

An interesting point that the blogger, Diane Darrow, makes is that the apps themselves cannot make you into a creative thinker, this comes from "the hearts, hands and guidance of a caring community".


There are a wide range of books and journals available on creativity and innovation, many of which can be found in the University Library.

WherInnovate book halfe Good Ideas Come From - Steven Johnson

The book takes an in-depth but very readable look at how you can arrange spaces, create habits and put in place practices that enable environments rich in idea generation.

The Process Improvement Unit has collated a reading list covering a range of topics around developing creative and efficient processes.