Nurturing creativity and innovation in the next generation

Dr Amantha Imber is an innovation psychologist, best-selling author, and Founder of Australia’s leading innovation consultancy Inventium – which was awarded the BRW Client Choice Award for Best Management Consultancy in Australia! With a PhD in Organisational Psychology, Amantha has helped companies such as Google, Coca-Cola, Disney, LEGO, McDonalds and the Commonwealth Bank innovate more successfully. And in case you were not already intrigued as to what the life of Dr Amantha Imber looks like, you might be interested to know she is the co-creator of the BRW Most Innovative Companies List, writes for a stack of well-known business publications, and fast fact: she’s had an international record deal for her debut album Like Samantha without the S and claims to be freakishly good at table tennis!

Yes. Everything about Dr Amantha Imber had us intrigued from the get go. This month, we sat down with Amantha to find out more about what she does and get her thoughts on how creativity and innovation is important to developing the next generation of leaders...

1) How would you best describe what being an innovation psychologist means?

Being a psychologist with an innovation specialty means I am immersed in the latest science around what actually helps people thinking more creatively and come up with great ideas. At Inventium, we conduct a lot of our own research into what makes organisations highly innovative and consistently produce groundbreaking products to market.

2) What do you love most about working at Inventium?

I love my team. Recruitment is the most important thing that we do as a company. Whenever we advertise for a role, we get over 200 applications – and from that pool, we will pick the best person. This means that over time, we have put together a group of extraordinary individuals who are all super smart, creative, funny and just plain lovely to work with every day.

3) What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were in high school?

I was a bit of a geek at school – always burying myself in books – and that obviously doesn’t bode well for being cool or popular at school. I was also excruciatingly shy – putting my hand up in class to ask a question would make me tense up with nerves. I worried way too much about what others thought, so if I were to go back to my high school self, I would give myself a good shake and say “stop worrying about what other people think."

4) When it comes to boosting creativity and innovation in a school setting, what are 3 tips or ideas you could give teachers/principals?

- Everyone has the ability to think creatively – it just so happens that the school system can do a good job in shaking it out of us by focusing students on the importance of rote learning or emphasising the importance of finding the “correct” answer. Obviously, this is important in some subjects, but I think that if teachers recognised that everyone has the ability to think creatively, and through having teaching students very simple tools and techniques, we can foster this ability even more so. For example, simply raising your eyebrows really high for a couple of minutes has been scientifically proven to enhance a person’s ability to think creatively.

- With more and more systems and processes becoming automated, creative thinking is the most important skill we can equip students with. Our ability to solve problems creatively is a skill that can never be replaced by robots. When students are presented with a problem, try encouraging them to ask themselves: “How would someone completely different to me approach this?” For example – ge them to try thinking about how someone like Richard Branson, or an organisation like Google would respond.

- A teacher’s leadership style in the classroom has a huge impact on students’ creativity. Being aware of the types of behaviours that create a culture of innovation in the classroom (such as giving students autonomy, and recognising creative efforts) should be a critical part of teachers’ training. Encouraging debate and different points of view is just one way to help create a good environment in the classroom.

5) What is the craziest idea you have ever had and one that you were shocked that it actually came off?

Starting my own consultancy at 29 (which is how old I was when I started Inventium) seemed like a ridiculous idea at the time, but it’s definitely been the best decision I have made. I was inspired to start Inventium because I was (and still am) a massive science geek, yet when it came to creativity and innovation, no other consultancy in the market was taking a science-based approach to helping others think more creatively. The market was full of fluff – people who had an opinion about what increased creativity but with no evidence to back it up. Inventium is the only consultancy in Australia that has developed scientifically proven approaches to improve creative thinking and innovation.

6) We are looking forward to having you facilitate the final session at The National Young Leaders Day events for secondary schools this November.  What would be one thing you would love students to walk away with?

To understand that...

To find our more about The National Young Leaders Day and to register your students, click here.

To connect with Dr Amantha and Inventium, click here.


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