The Innovation Blog

On Creativity - How has the economy impacted creative thinking?

Posted by Creative Realities on December 12, 2011

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What is the state of creativity today?  Is creative thinking following the roller coaster ride of the economy (with lots of stomach-churning drops)?  Or, is creativity going the way of gold, holding steady in spite of the tumultuous times? 

In my opinion, creativity is easier to be had today than ever before.  With more information at our fingertips than any other point in history, the stimuli are all around us.  The myth that creativity is an innate trait granted a select few has been debunked, and we now know in fact that it is a skill that can be learned.  Yes, there are some who have abnormal creative abilities (e.g. Steve Jobs) but we all have the capability to exhibit creative behavior.  The headline: creativity is more reliant upon our circumstances and context (nurture) than our genetic makeup (nature). 

That said, however, in the economic downslide we’ve prioritized things precariously for creative thinking.  Our obsession with the bottom line leaves little to no room for coloring outside the lines.  With careers in the balance we focus on doing our job as defined, and one of the intangibles that gets overshadowed in the considerations of the day-to-day is creative, innovative thinking.  Because it’s something that is tough to articulate and tougher to measure, we stick with what shows tangible, short-term results to convey our productivity and efficacy.  While innovation and creativity take us into uncharted, high-potential waters, it is much safer to stick to the shore.  Today that is awfully hard to reason against.

In our line of work where we bounce around the world facilitating brainstorming or creative problem solving sessions, we are reasonably well positioned to postulate on the state of creativity.  It is a complex map that is drawn, and, while it’s admittedly unfair to generalize across geographies or even companies, I think this scenario is broadly at play in a great many organizations around the world.  This is not to say that we don’t see creativity in what we do – quite the opposite in fact.  But, the positive feedback we get at the end of a productive day of brainstorming (“I wish we did more of this…”, “What a refreshing, energizing experience…”, etc.) I think only reinforces that creativity is also fighting against the economic pressures of the times. 

What we have to do then is find the risk worth taking.  And, we have to find comfort in the discomfort of not knowing where it’ll take us.  The rewards are not only well worth the effort, but creative thinking is essential to a sustainable future. 

What do you think the current state of creativity is?  Would love to hear other opinions and examples!


- Clay Maxwell (@bizinovationist

Topics: creativity, Clay Maxwell, bizinovationist, Innovation, brainstorming