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creativity column

Inspiration will not be found on a spreadsheet.

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Today’s risk-averse business environments do not support creative thought and ideation the way they should. Most are great at tracking production costs, profitability, taxes and payroll. Important items that go into running a successful business. But, what about creativity?

Adobe recently released a survey looking into creativity around the world. Its ‘State of Create’ global benchmark study surveyed business people in the US, the UK, Germany, France, and Japan.

80% of those surveyed felt that unlocking creativity is critical to economic growth. Also, 75% said they are constantly under pressure to be more creative at work. Therein lies the challenge. If you’re feeling pressure to be more creative at work, more than likely you won’t be. Creativity doesn’t work like that.

The most shocking stat to me was the one showing that only 39% consider themselves as being creative. Clearly then, there seems to be a disconnect between the need for more creativity in the workplace and employees not being given the opportunity to do anything about it. Creativity isn’t something that can be mandated. You can’t order employees to be more creative, then criticize them if results don’t show up on your spreadsheet.

Spreadsheets are a window to the past, creativity is a doorway to the future and any company that embraces, fosters and nurtures their employee’s creativity is going to have to be one that’s willing to walk into the unknown. Our society has done a wonderful job conditioning us to believe that risk is bad, and needs to avoided at all costs. Especially when it comes to untested ideas.

It’s been my experience that most leaders struggle with bringing creativity to their workplace because they are not comfortable with the unpredictable nature that creativity brings with it.

Any untested idea is going to require a leap of faith and involve some risk before it can be turned into a product or new service that can drive revenue. Hugh MacLeod, best selling author of ‘Ignore Everybody: and 39 other Keys to Creativity’ believes that “Good ideas alter the power balance in relationships, that is why good ideas are initially resisted.”

Albert Einstein considered one of the 20th century’s greatest minds said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” To which he also said, “Logic will get you from point A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.”

Businesses that are able to tap in to that power stand a much better chance of developing new products, unlocking new markets and driving new revenue streams. Focus on creating an environment for employees to grow and develop creatively, and support their efforts by allowing them to take risks. Don’t stigmatize mistakes.

The good news is the future only comes one day at time. The bad news is if you’re unwilling to bring creativity into your business, you won’t have much of a future worry about.

William ChildsComment