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Author's profile photo Janaki Kumar

Creativity at work

Are you Creative?

Think back to when you were 4 years old. Were you more creative then?


I have asked this question to many customers including c level execs, typically people consider themselves more creative at 4 than they are today. What is going on? What happens in the intervening years that make us less creative? I am sure there are a number of reasons for this, including our education system, but today we will focus on the workplace.

There is a common misconception that creativity and artistic ability are the same thing. This causes people get into a fixed mindset that some people are “creative” and others are not.

In fact, some organizations even have a “creative” department, which sends the message that the rest of organization does not need to be creative.

Creative_dept.pngThis is the old way of thinking. Perhaps in the agricultural age, or  industrial age or even the information age, companies could afford to tap into the creativity of only a few select individuals. However, we are now in what Dan Pink calls the Conceptual age.  And today, with companies are undergoing digital transformation and business models are being disrupted, companies need to leverage the creative horsepower of their entire organization.

There is further evidence to support this shift. The US census data shows the dramatic decline of routine occupations and increase of the non-routine or creative ones.

Census numbers.pngThis shift is due to the fact that as technology advances, routine tasks are being automated. And we humans are expected to take on the non-routine creative work, bringing new meaning to the term Human Machine interaction.

Now that we have established the need for creativity — how can we get creative? I am here to tell you that you already are. If we adopt a growth mindset, we realize that Creativity is a muscle you can exercise, a skill you can learn and improve. We are all creative — even if we are not artists. And with the process called design thinking, we can confidently unleash our creativity at work!

This idea is articulated in the book Creative Confidence, by Tom and David Kelly. David is the founder of IDEO and of Stanford , and his brother Tom is a partner of IDEO and a best selling author. In their words, belief in our creative confidence is at the heart of innovation.

In my next blog, I will talk about David Kelly’s visit to the Design and Co-Innovation Center and his advice for creative people at work.

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