Is Creativity the Number One Skill For The 21st Century?

14th June 2018 - Rosi Lister

What skills do you and your team need to meet new challenges at work like automation and globalisation? We’d argue that it’s creativity that’s the number one skill for the 21st century.

What are the challenges facing UK businesses over the next few years? Some will be obvious: automation, Brexit, investment, but as we’ve written elsewhere, uncertainty and complacency are two of the biggest problems facing UK businesses. That is, assuming you don’t need to innovate and being caught out by competitors (complacency) and an inability to adapt to a rapidly changing business environment due to not being able to plan for change or implement change (uncertainity, or rather the failure to deal with uncertainity).

The solution, to both of these problems, is creativity, the capacity to conceive of and implement original ideas and there is an increasing amount of research that supports this conclusion.

More than a decade of evidence seems to spell out the vital role creativity needs to play if business is to flourish now and in the future.

But, how do you ensure you build a creative team? Do you need some kind of creativity test for potential employees? Is creativity a skill that you’re born with or can it be learned?

Team first bump

In 1968, George Land devised a creativity test for NASA to help select innovative engineers and scientists. The assessment was interesting enough that other researchers later conducted a research study to test the creativity of 1600 children ranging in ages from 3 to 5 years old. They re-tested the same children at 10 years of age, and again at 15 years of age. At 5 years of age, 98% of participants had ‘genius’ levels of creativity, but by the age of 15 this had reduced to just 12%. The same test, which has now been conducted with over 1 million adults suggests a meagre 2% have the same level of creativity as 98% of 5 year olds. “What we have concluded,” wrote Land, “is that non-creative behavior is learned.”[1]At IVE, we know that the opposite is also true and that creative behaviour can not only be learned, but also taught. We believe that all humans are born creative, as George’s test proves We know that creativity is un-learned through the messages we receive as we grow up. These messages continually discourage risk taking and reward only the right answers, as opposed to rewarding a process that involves failure and making ‘mistakes’ in the pursuit of creating something new. Our current school system reinforces this through rote learning and the eradication of the creative subject curriculum that enables children to learn the (transferable) creative process. So are we setting our young people up to fail in a very uncertain future?

Teaching creativity from classroom to boardroom is our business at IVE. We design bespoke strategies to build the creative competencies of individuals and teams with senior educators and company leaders alike. It is because we understand the essential components of being creative that we know how to re-ignite this very human desire to respond productively to what life throws us, no matter how curved the ball is.

If some of this chimes with you, and you recognise that you and/or your business would benefit from a surge of creativity in order to get ahead of the productivity game, we want to hear from you.Creative Leadership for Business is our flagship training programme to equip leaders with the skills needed to embody creative behaviours and create an environment at work that encourages and rewards creativity.

We can also provide bespoke solutions to meet your company’s needs. Email to discuss how we can help you be more creative.

No matter how large or small your operation, IVE has a creativity solution to help. And you know what? You’ll enjoy it!

[1] George Land and Beth Jarman, Breaking Point and Beyond. San Francisco: Harper Business, 1993

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