The importance of creativity

The World Economic Forum's The Future of Jobs Report 2020 revealed that organizations are valuing creativity, along with originality and initiative, above leadership or programming skills. And there are other organizations and experts echoing this finding and providing interesting insights. The International Labor Organization (ILO) and prestigious universities, Harvard among them, have taken up the topic and shown how important creativity at work is, and how creativity affects organizational teams.

28 October 2021

The key is to encourage organizations to recruit members who can enhance “creativity” and provide more effective solutions to day-to-day problems while finding ways forward for the team to evolve.

What needs to happen?  Companies need to foment innovation by continually encouraging employee creativity as a way for employees to fully develop their talents while at the organization. This is so much so that the consulting firm Willis Towers Watson has found that “a motivated employee can be 31% more productive than one who is not.

What does Harvard say? They have found that creativity is 1% about the idea and 99% about finding ways to turn it into something tangible that can be accomplished. But since organizations can’t wait around forever for a good idea, there must always be a mission to accomplish and a deadline by which to finish. This is the way they have found to get teams to become more committed to a given project.

The International Labor Organization (ILO) has also weighed in and says that companies with inclusive cultures and policies have improved their productivity by up to 62.6%. “A variety of profiles on the same work team enriches the creative process by approaching the same problem from different gender, educational, generational or cultural perspectives,” they explain.

  • A series of studies from Microsoft, Boston Consulting Group and KRC Research found that productivity during the pandemic increased with remote work, but innovation declined.

Little big changes. Coach Susan Peppercon stresses the importance of using everyday activities to maintain our mental flexibility. She talks about the importance of striking up a casual chat or perhaps taking a detour on the way home from work. According to Susan, “these are small changes that awaken the creativity inside us all,” because they place us in situations that are foreign to our routines and require more creative solutions.

  • We can’t rely on the same ideas or ways of solving problems to expand markets by having the same mindset we’ve always relied on,” says leadership expert Rebecca Shambaugh, citing a conversation she had with the vice president of a Fortune 500 company.

The study. The World Economic Forum includes creativity among the 10 key skills that workers will need to have by 2025, along with others such as “analytical thinking and innovation” and “difficult problem solving.” Because “the business environment is very dynamic, and the level of change is hugely complex.” To incentivize creativity, they also recommend that by 2025 employers on average should offer training and ongoing updates to just over 70% of their workforce.

What do the gurus say? Steve Jobs said that creativity is about “connecting things” (ideas, situations…), while Duncan Wardle, former vice president of Innovation and Creativity at The Walt Disney Company, defines it as the ability to “find novel and practical ways to address challenges.” Twyla Tharp, the American dancer and choreographer, adds another thought, “Creativity is a habit. And the best creativity is the result of good work habits.