Monday, February 18, 2013

The Link Between More Creativity and a Stronger Economy

The 2010 IBM Global CEO study, called Capitalizing on Complexity, revealed that over 1500 CEO’s consider creativity to be the number one leadership capacity needed to manage the complex issues of our global economy.

You see it all around you these days – we need to be more creative to be more competitive in today’s global economy; our children are not being better prepared for the creativity needed in the 21st Century workforce; our creativity is too tied to our technological devices, etc. Messages about creativity are coming from the business world, the human development and psychology world, and the educational pundits. Basically, they are all saying that without more creativity in our workplace we will not have the kind of innovative nation that will fuel continued growth.

So, how can we link our creativity to building a stronger economy? We’ll look at three connections – personal, educational, and corporate.

First, make it a priority to invest in developing your own personal creative capacities.  Here are some resources that could be helpful.  The Four Steps Toward an Everyday Creativity blog by Beth Robinson – develop an insight outlook, build a tool box of problem solving techniques, capture your ideas, use your eyes to help your mind. Another group blog on How to Enhance Personal Creativity. And, from the Merit Resource Group,  Top Ten Keys to Developing Personal Creativity. Basically, believe that you are inherently creative, break out of everyday routines, identify steps of the creative process that work for you, and make it a habit to deliberately practice some element of the creative process everyday.

Second, help your community reframe the conversation about arts education in our schools.  For decades the research has been proving that arts education helps develop creative and critical thinking capacities, team development, cultural understanding, higher academic performance, and keeps at-risk youth in school. And yet, not only has the needle has not moved on access to quality arts education for every student across the grades, budgets have been cut and specialist art teachers have been eliminated. There is no correlation built between an education that includes the arts and being a more creatively productive member of the workforce.

So, it's time to change the conversation. Let’s talk about creative education – including art, music, theater, dance, multi and interactive media, design – and how experience in these areas builds our individual and collective creativity capacities.  And, let’s make sure that we develop assessment protocols that measure growth in creative capacity.

Third, let’s get our definitions accurate in the corporate lexicon. From my research, I have learned that the business community often prefers to talk about ‘innovation’ versus ‘creativity’. Why?  Because they think that innovation means product, productivity and profit whereas creativity is artsy and squishy. But the truth is, you will not have innovation without creativity. In order to optimize our innovation potential we need to maximize our creative capacities. I am reminded of the ICI continuum: Imagination = conceiving of what is not; Creativity = applied imagination; and Innovation = novel or unique creativity. There is an inherent process that is important to recognize and language appropriately.

If we get serious about building the creative capacities of our communities on an individual and collective basis, then we will have built a foundational and self-sustaining link between our development and growing a stronger, more globally competitive economy.

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