Reconnecting With Our Creativity
Written by David Jackson – Creative Consultant
Creativity is an innate human characteristic that is vital to the success of any organisation. Although the concept of creativity is so often linked to artistry, it is not merely a means to an artistic end. Creativity is an intrinsic part of how we make progress, solve problems, and dream of what’s next. Given its broad impact, it’s worth reflecting on the fact that creativity is within all of us, and its relevance in all sectors shouldn’t be underestimated.
We are all creative
Traditional schooling systems have resulted in many people passing through their education thinking they are ‘not smart’, because they do not conform to the idea of intelligence within conventional classroom structures. As Ken Robinson investigates in his book ‘Out of our Minds’ there is no one size fits all to education. But the paradigm is shifting, with more and more educational environments redesigning the school experience to cater to a broad range of strengths, needs, and learning styles. It turns out that rather than being ‘not smart’, many people just need the structures and support that recognise their innate abilities rather than try to conform them to one chosen academic ideal.
It’s much the same with creativity. “I’m not creative” is a common refrain from those who believe that creativity equals artistry, or that it’s not relevant to their skills or role. Many individuals shy away from their own creativity because it’s been represented as something vague and frivolous rather than something nuanced and powerful. But we are all creative beings. Any time we think of a fresh way forward, any conversation we have about developing a new system, any input we have into solving a problem or questioning the status quo – these are all creative opportunities. Creativity doesn’t mean painting a landscape. Creativity is the exploration, production, or invention of a novel idea.
All sectors engage in creative processes
Some sectors and organisations are easily recognisable as ‘creative’. A theatre company, a visual arts college, or a tech start-up might seem like more obviously creative environments than an insurance firm or heavy industry, for example. But the fact is that if all people are creative, then all workplaces have a wealth of inherent creativity, whether it’s being effectively tapped into or not.
Most companies are so fixated on productivity metrics that they don’t allow the time and mental breathing space creativity requires…The real question for leaders isn’t how to bring creativity back. It’s “do we actually value creativity?” And if so, “Is that manifest in our culture and policies?” -Atlassian
It’s not so much a matter of what an organisation does that makes them creative, but what they value. A music facility may be far less engaged creatively than a transportation company, depending on how its people are encouraged to think innovatively and work collaboratively. Staying ahead of the business curve, facilitating the incubation of new technologies, and rethinking the culture of work are all examples of creative process.
To create is to bring something into existence that wasn’t there before, and it’s a vital element of invention, innovation and connection. Rather than simply being a quirky take on things, a creative approach is one that investigates, questions, and propels us forward with the deep questions of ‘what’, ‘why’, and ‘how’ at its core. Just because you’re not designing the next app or drafting plans for a community hub doesn’t mean you’re not being creative.
Businesses who know the power of cultivating curiosity and inspiring growth are the ones who value creativity, and ultimately reap the rewards.