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Creativity, Work & Unicorns

Updated: May 6




Organizations that understand the importance of innovation & creativity win

  1. Creativity is the Future

As an artist growing up in the late 90s and early 00s I was lucky enough to only have one creative toe dipped in technology. The available platforms at the time were not on my radar and I couldn't afford a computer anyway. I spend years blissfully making stuff out of other stuff, relying on my imagination, my experiences and nature for inspiration. Double tapping on Insta, pinning on Pinterest or looking up 'ideas' in google image search were not a thing. I consider myself lucky. As I transitioned to the role of an art educator I found it hard to watch young people "being creative". For the most part ideation came in the form of online searches and resulted in derivative and often copied work. When I challenged my students to put their phones away and dig deep, I was met with serious pushback. I found this to be concerning and a bit disturbing. Those kids are after all about to enter the future workforce- yikes!

In a recent Forbes article Anna Powers boldly states: "Ultimately a computer lacks imagination or creativity to dream up a vision for the future. It lacks the emotional competence that a human being has. Thus, creativity will be the skill of the future."


Creativity is becoming more and more important- part of a unicorn skill set that includes empathy, emotional intelligence and collaboration. On one hand, as we face AI and increased automation, creativity becomes a precious differentiator- a testament to what it means to be human. On the other hand it is the skill that if developed and respected can get us past the yet unimagined hurdles we will face- both on a micro level within organizations and more broadly-as members of a connected global economy.

"Every child is an artist. The problem is to remain an artist once they grow up." Picasso

2. Creativity is Unlearned

There is nothing more awesome than watching my 5 year old daughter create. It comes naturally to her- and it's not because her mommy is an artist. There is something about that amazon prime cardboard box and enclosed packaging that is full of so many more possibilities than the Paw Patrol 'ocean litter' her mommy caved to. ;) Watching her create is magic. My kid (as much as I like to think so) is not unusual. A landmark study conducted by George Land and Beth Jarman, (Breaking Point and Beyond. San Francisco: HarperBusiness, 1993) concluded the following:


Genius level creativity

Test results amongst 3-5-year-olds: 98%

Test results amongst 8-10-year-olds: 32%

Test results amongst 13-15-year-olds: 10%

Test results amongst 200,000 adults: 2% (same test)


Honestly, considering the way our educational and labour systems are structured I am not surprised. I am however an optimist- if we are born with it, surely we can rediscover this superpower as adults. Picasso had it 100% right when he said: "Every child is an artist. The problem is to remain an artist once they grow up." If we want to reclaim our birthright we have to be more like 3-5 year olds- take risks, question assumptions, play, don't worry about outcome & be in the moment. Easier said than done considering the fact that many workplaces are designed to stifle these impulses rather than to capitalize on them.

Innovation and creativity are inextricably tied to play. Not making time for play at work is the mental equivalent of skipping lunch to 'get some more work in'. In the long term companies with this mentality starve.

I leave you with this challenge-How can you make space for play at work? Hint: You gotta get creative!

Here are a few resources to get you started:

https://risepeople.com/blog/creativity-in-the-workplace/

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