Underpinning research


The CLEAR IDEAS innovation development methodology translates research findings on effective creativity into improved organisational practice by developing the skills of people to both better generate and implement new ideas in the workplace.

Its core components are based on a number of research projects undertaken by Dr Kamal Birdi at the University of Sheffield since 1999.

His initial research questions included: investigating the major barriers and facilitators of organisational creativity and innovation; identifying the knowledge, skills, abilities and other attributes required by managers and employees to deal with these challenges in order to be a successful innovator; and evaluating the effectiveness of training/development activities in this area.

The need for the research was identified by the UK Government’s push for innovation as a driver for economic growth.

Over many years, Dr Birdi contributed to a number of papers, reports and research activities which highlighted major factors linked with innovation success. These included a University of Sheffield study of 500 organisations, narrative/literature reviews for the Department of Trade and Industry’s 2003 UK Innovation Review and interview studies on collaborative innovation in the UK water sector. These reviews showed that whilst innovative ideas can be plentiful, internal influences within organisations can prevent these from being implemented successfully.

Dr Birdi also led Sheffield colleagues in conducting multiple studies evaluating the impact of creativity training in organisations. This showed that multiple factors influence the implementation of skills from their generation, that different types of courses have different impacts and that there is a need to combine the strength of several approaches. These findings influenced the choice of the IDEAS (idea generation) and CLEAR (idea implementation) factors.

The research strongly suggested that there was a need to invent a new innovation training model, which developed the skills of employees and managers to tackle both the creative and implementation aspects involved. Dr Birdi felt the new model needed to be a simple and systematic vehicle in order to make it memorable, applicable and accessible – in 2005, CLEAR IDEAS was created.

CLEAR IDEAS now continues to evolve and improve through integrating learning from streams of new research and constant reflections on its use in practice.


The key journal paper describing the research development, principles and evaluation of CLEAR IDEAS in practice can be found here:


If you would like to read further into the research background informing CLEAR IDEAS then please have a look at the following:

  • Altshuller, G., & Altov, H. (1996). And Suddenly the Inventor Appeared: TRIZ, the Theory of Inventive Problem Solving. Worcester, Massachusetts: Technical Innovation Ctr.
  • Anderson, N., Potočnik, K. & Zhou, J. (2014). Innovation and creativity in organizations: A state-of-the-science review, prospective commentary, and guiding framework. Journal of Management 4, 1297-1333.
  • Audit Commission. (2007). Seeing the light: Innovation in public services. London: The Audit Commission.
  • Bevan, R., Middleton, J.  & Wright, T. (2007). Be Incredibly Creative. Oxford: The Infinite Ideas Company Ltd.
  • Birdi, K. (2016). Creativity Training. In H. Shipton, P. Budhwar, P. Sparrow and A. Brown (Eds.) Human Resource Management, Innovation and Performance, London: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Birdi, K., Leach, D. and Magadley, W. (2016). The Relationship of Individual Capabilities and Environmental Support with Different Facets of Designers’ Innovative Behavior. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 33, 19-35. DOI: 10.1111/jpim.12250.
  • Birdi, K., Leach, D. & Magadley, W. (2012). Evaluating the impact of TRIZ creativity training: an organizational field study. R&D Management, 42(4), 315-326.
  • Birdi, K. (2007). A lighthouse in the desert?  Evaluating the effectiveness of creativity training on employee innovation. Journal of Creative Behavior, 41(4), 249-270.
  • Burkinshaw, J., Hamel, M. & Mol, M. (2008). Management innovation. Academy of Management Review, 33(4), 825-845
  • de Bono, E. (1992). Serious Creativity. London: Harper Collins.
  • Howell, J., & Boies, K. (2004). Champions of technological innovation: The influence of contextual knowledge, role orientation, idea generation, and idea promotion on champion emergence. The Leadership Quarterly, 15, 123–143.
  • Lee, A., Legood, A., Hughes, D., Wei Tian, A., Newman, A. & Knight, C. (2020) Leadership, creativity and innovation: a meta-analytic review, European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 29(1), 1-35.
  • Leseure, M.J., Bauer, J., Birdi, K., Neely, A.D. & Denyer, D. (2004).  Adoption of Promising Practices: A Systematic Review of the Evidence. International Journal of Management Reviews, Vol. 5-6, 169-190.
  • Magadley, W. & Birdi, K. (2012). Two sides of the innovation coin? An empirical investigation of the relative correlates of idea generation and idea implementation. International Journal of Innovation Management, 16(1), 1-28.
  • Porter, J. & Birdi, K. (2018). 22 reasons why collaborations fail: Lessons from water innovation research. Environmental Science & Policy, 89, 100-108. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envsci.2018.07.004
  • Proctor, T. (2010). Creative Problem Solving for Managers (Third Edition). London: Routledge.
  • Shalley, C., & Gilson, L. (2004). What leaders need to know: A review of social and contextual factors that can foster or hinder creativity. The Leadership Quarterly, 15, 33-53.
  • Swanson, R.C. (1995). The Quality Improvement Handbook. London: Kogan Page.