creativity = key to success in the workplace

Why is creativity absolutely crucial in the 21st Century workplace? Against a backdrop of uncertainty, economic turmoil and unprecedented change a new picture is emerging of the skills and traits for success (and perhaps even simply survival) in the modern era.

At the heart of this essential skillset for the future lies creativity!

When you walk into a creative workplace – you can sense it. There is a buzz in the air; the spaces are often playfully different, and people are energetic and engaged.

All organisations have creative people and they should be encouraged. But there is an important distinction between welcoming the occasional out-of-the-box idea and cultivating creativity as an approach to doing business.

Promoting a culture of creativity requires honing the skills of observation and invention – generally the purview of artists and designers – throughout an organisation and aligning core systems to reinforce the creative process.

Creativity thrives in an environment of disciplined chaos. The discipline begins with learning how to look at situations from multiple angles, removing blinders and opening possibilities. These are the tools of observation.

The observation process leads to the invention stage. Invention starts with an unbridled team of ideas. This is the chaos part of disciplined chaos. Invention entails freedom to run in multiple directions, often at once: What if we tried this? What if we added that? It necessitates failure – preferably early – in order to get it right.

Ultimately, the operations and incentives of the organisation should reinforce creativity. People at every level of the organisation must be supported as they develop and apply the tools of observation and invention in their jobs. Everything from the company’s vision to its HR procedures and financial management structure, when properly connected, can encourage creativity in the workplace.

Creativity is rapidly shifting from a “nice to have” to a “must have” quality for all types of successful organisations – from delicatessens to design firms. A firm’s embrace of creativity in their workplace culture requires a disciplined approach to unleash the chaos of inventive ideas.

Does all this sound familiar? Because it is... it's what artists do as part of the creative process. Therefore, your creativity will be an asset in any workplace.

(Barbara Dyer, president and CEO of The Hitachi Foundation)