In a recent Psychology Today blog titled “Working Creativity” by Mark Batey, Ph.D. the author asserts that creativity is quickly becoming “our most essential success skill”. I couldn’t agree more with Batey. Creativity not only implies “originality” and “exclusivity” but “new” as well. It’s also an “expressive” process according to the dictionary. So why has Creativity become such a hot topic and declared an important trend with a serious impact on our future? I think I can share with you at least part of the answer to that question.
As America began to change from a manufacturing based economy to a services based economy we also became part of the enormous world labor pool. Plus the years of cheap and abundant energy were over. Our lifestyles changed dramatically. As a result we’ve been driven to re-examine our products, our services and how we stack up competitively within a fast paced global labor market. This discovery was really a wake up call and an epiphany for all of us. The dawn of a New Age in America.
Throughout history we Americans have been typecast as inventive, brash individualists with a “get-it-done” attitude. I don’t find that description at all offensive. Nor do I think it is too far off the mark. Or is it? Others will characterize Americans as lazy, boorish, unmotivated individuals with a serious entitlement mentality. OK, so which is it? Well, I think the answer is we have both types in our country. And therein lies the quandary. I don’t think the “new reality” has sunk in yet for some Americans. But there is hope.
The French author Raymond Radiguet wrote “Originality consists in trying to be like everybody else and failing“. My take on that is he is telling us that we need to foster originality from within and never leave it to chance. During my career I’ve seen many who buy into the “we’ve got an app for that” ad mentality. Come on, does that mean “technology” is the real key to creative thinking and decision making and not our native intelligence? I think not. We’re allowing ourselves to be sold way short.
There is no disputing the fact that companies like Apple continue to make innovative products that win world wide acclaim for their design and functionality. We’ve made great strides but there is much work to do. We must evolve into a workforce that recognizes the value of creativity and make it part of our culture and work ethic. To succeed we must be accountable on an individual level and take charge.
The world should learn that the best ideas and the most innovative products come from one place - America. American workers are already the most productive in the world, so why can’t they be the most creative as well? Getting our colleges and universities to ramp up on courses designed to teach Creativity should be a top priority. We really need to start thinking of Creativity as more than a just a survival strategy. Tracking our progress in this area will be interesting. But I have every confidence we will rise to the challenge. Perhaps the best thing about Creativity is that it’s a “renewable resource”.
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