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Kao (1991) says that creativity may be defined as a human process leading to a result which is novel (new), useful (solves an existing problem or satisfies an existing need), and understandable (can be reproduced). Therefore, a meaningful and workable notion of creativity in TPI is to respond to the changes in the urban markets and not to miss the great opportunities in the rural markets. As a result the company created new and novel designed products. The role that increased creativity might play in improving organisational performance

Larry and Thomas (2004) say there are five steps in the creative process: Preparation, Concentration, Incubation, Illumination and Verification. The first step requires a thorough investigation to ensure that all parts of a problem are understood fully. In this stage, the executives at TPI investigated to ensure their problems inside and outside thoroughly, such as the changes of their pearl firms and customers’ needs. The next step requires that personal or organizational energies and resources are focused on solving the problem.

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In this stage, they focused on the quantity of the high quality pearl and the number of their creative designers. During the third step, there is internalization and a subconscious ordering of gathered information. They were thinking about some changes and organizational energies and resources to create something new. Illumination is the moment of discovery. In this stage, they decided to create new and novel products by hiring many creative designers. The last step involves testing the solution or idea.

In the last stage, they introduced these products into their small projects first. After checking and analysing the outcome, they introduced them into their core projects. Since TPI started to create many new and novel designed pearl products in 1995, it had been able to improve various things. Firstly, it had succeeded to cultivate its new image in our markets. TPI hired many creative designers of pearl products, some of whom received prizes in International Pearl Design Contest as designers for TPI, before it started to create new products.

Some of their customers bought the products from the International Pearl Design Contest, which were worth tens of thousands though to hundreds of thousands pounds. Consequently, the prizes played an essential role in enhancing the status of the pearl design products in their markets. Secondly, it had succeeded to make stable sales every month. One of some reasons is that the sales representatives could avoid missing out on a lot of opportunities to sell their products, because they could have various kinds of pearl products suitable for the broad needs of their customers.

This was done by adding the variety of the new and novel designed products into their bags. More specifically, the sales representatives basically had approximately five hundred thousand pound pearl products in our bags. After the company created the new and novel designed products, they reorganised the designed products from approximately 20 % to more than 50 % of the five hundred thousand pound products. The other reason is that they could develop their customers’ needs especially in the rural areas by showing these new and novel products.

As a result of these reasons, they have been able to develop their existent markets and obtain new markets, such as fashion-conscious 20 to 40 year-old women. Considering all of the above factors, it is obvious that the increased creativity, that is to say, creating new and novel products, had played the important role to the improving performance of the company. The barriers that exist with regard to increasing creativity There were three barriers that exist with regard to increasing new and novel designed pearl products.

First of all, with regard to the quality of necklaces, it was not difficult for the sales representatives to sell them to their customers. This was because they could explain the high quality and competitive price they have by using evidence, such as the first prize for their quality. However, with regard to the designed products, it was much more difficult to sell them, because they had to make their customers understand why these designed products were useful and practical for them and how these ones differentiated from other competitors in terms of their design.

From my experience, it was the difficult for me to sell designed brooches; because I had to explain to my customers and make them satisfied with what type of brooch suited which colour, what kind of clothes and which kind of situation, for example, going shopping, business, parties or weddings. One of reasons was that most of our customers especially in rural areas didn’t know how to use the brooches in correct ways. The other reason was that they felt brooches were more expensive than the other products, such as necklaces and rings, even if the prices of them are cheaper than ones of the other products.

Secondly, a few elder sales representatives, managers and directors were suspicious about the reason that the company created and depended on the new and novel designed pearl products rather than the high quality pearl ones. This was because they knew how much profit had been brought into the company by the high quality pearl products. Furthermore, it was much more difficult for them to interpret and sell the designed pearl products than the younger sales representatives.

An obvious reason was that as all sales representatives in the company were men in spite that almost our customers were women, most of the elder sales representatives weren’t familiar with women’s up-to-date fashion. Finally, the more designed pearl products the company creates, the more excessive, unsold old-fashioned stocks it has to keep afterwards, because the needs of customers are always changing and designed products definitely become old-fashioned sooner or later.

In TPI’s case, there were a lot of old-fashioned products that were produced over three years ago. Moreover, we could sometimes find the gap between the new and novel products and the needs of our customers in terms of the design, because basically, the design department had taken the initiative for creating the new and novel pearl products without the feedback from the sales representatives who know the needs of their customers.

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