Monday, 17 March 2008

The Invisible Creatives Amongst Us

"We need more creatives."

"Where are our creative people?"

"Where will we find the next generation of creative people for our business?"

"What is creativity?"

"We've always done it this way; how can we change?"

These are all issues I've discussed with friends over the past month or so. Creativity is seen almost as the Holy Grail, yet like the Holy Grail, it is elusive, can't be found, remains a mystery. It is something restricted to certain 'gifted' artistic individuals, or to a group of social misfits who sit isolated in their own thoughts dreaming up ideas.

The truth is that creativity is not restricted neither are creatives 'misfits'. In order to be truly creative, interpersonal skills are prerequisite; interaction is important and the good news is that it is present in normal people! We all have the potential to apply creativity, whether we work in a scientific, mathematical, engineering, human science or artistic environment.

The question isn't so much,"Where are the creatives?"

but more

"How can I discover and apply my own creative abilities?"

We tend to think that the grass is greener on the other side; someone else always has better resources than us; someone else always has better ideas than us.

But is that true?

These 'other people' potentially start with the same resources as we do but develop them in a different way, or perhaps they are able to see the potential in who and what they have! The trend over recent years has been to hire the bright young graduates emerging from our centres of academic excellence, replacing existing experience with a new vibrant culture.

But how new and how vibrant is it? Sure there's lots of energy, so I guess in that sense it is vibrant. But how can people emerging from an educational system, still naïve in so many areas of life, experience and reality possibly hope to contribute significantly to our creative culture, if it's not been there in their education? And how can people who are uncreative (the majority emerging from this 'acreative' educational culture) then teach others to be creative? I would suggest that the answer is 'With difficulty.'

However, if we take time to look closer at our people we will surely see a wealth of potential. Perhaps the silver foxes with their experience do have something to offer after all! Perhaps their years of effort, challenges, mistakes and triumphs count a lot more than we realise towards a creative culture we seek after so earnestly. Creativity involves risk, experiment, a combination of experience with naïvity; bringing together different personalities, who perhaps don't naturally sit comfortably together, rubbing the corners off each other to produce a creative spark.

The companies that know the importance of creativity and the creative culture thrive and grow, identifying and releasing it within their existing staff, harnessing the benefits of experience and tempered persistence along with the enthusiasm of newcomers.

Companies that don't, including some of our big corporate players are likely to become historical names in the not too distant future unless they fail to embrace the concept and change accordingly.

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