As both a marketing executive and artist, I get unsolicited career advice on combining my two vocations, including "you should be in advertising" or "you should design greeting cards"... I don't mean to disparage well-meaning career counsel, but if creativity just lives in the creative department, then say good-by to innovation.
Creative thinking is required for every corporate function (creative accounting excluded). Stuart Jackson's article in today's Wall Street Journal Finding Tomorrow's Winners Today -- Try Firms with Fresh Perspectives suggests investing in companies with a creative twist on their market space -- and there's not an ad agency in sight.
Thankfully, there's no shortage of creative thinkers, and they don't have to pack a travel easel to be inventive. But how do you find them in your organization? IDEO, the industrial design firm, has come up with a process for characterizing innovators and nurturing their entrepreneurial instincts. Their 2005 book, The Ten Faces of Innovation will help you see ingenuity beyond the creative department and dig deeper into the product development process, regardless of the market space you're in. You might find yourself in one or more of the "faces", whether you're coming up with the concept, corralling the forces in your organization to deliver the product or putting the final product into your customers' hands. I initially identified myself as a "cross-pollinator" and "hurdler", but have since been characterized as an "anthropologist" and "storyteller". Regardless of the label, I'll keep the book as a reference to encourage everyone in the organization to contribute new ideas.