Most people think of creativity as being something to do with art, literature or music. But without creativity, business today wouldn’t exist.
You can call it innovation, ingenuity, talent or even vision. Regardless, one of the most prized traits in business is an individual’s creativity. Think of any successful business entrepreneur and you’d be hard pushed to find one without personal characteristics that, collectively, would be interpreted as creativity. Creativity means coming up with a new idea, or a new approach to an old idea. It’s having the guts to think different.
Many individuals that we associate with being creative were not seen as such:
- Einstein was four years old before he could speak and seven before he could read.
- Walt Disney was fired from his job at a newspaper because he had “no good ideas.”
- Louis Pasteur was rated ‘mediocre’ in chemistry when he attended the Royal College.
- Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard, Steve Jobs dropped out of Reed, Michael Dell dropped out of University of Texas, and Larry Ellison dropped out of University of Chicago.
So if creativity is held in such high regard today, then why do the world’s education systems place such low importance on it?
The Value Of Creativity In Business
As children we are all innately creative. We use our imagination to learn, to play, to discover the world. Children think and do whatever comes to their minds because they have (yet) to have been conditioned to accept the adult fears of failure, ridicule, or embarrassment. Kids just get on with it.
Formal education then spends the next 10-plus years exorcising the creativity out of our kids. As students we’re rewarded for thinking the same as everyone else through incentives like high school diplomas, certificates, and commendations.
After we finish school, we go to work. And what’s the single, most often requested trait every business wants from their people? Creativity. The very thing we’re most ill-equipped to handle, because we’ve forgotten how to be creative.
The business world is full of trite phrases like thinking outside the box. Business leaders are praised for their innovative thinking, for finding creative solutions to business problems.
Creativity is the edge that separates the good from the great. So if it’s held in such high regard in the workplace, why isn’t it encouraged in the world of education? Isn’t the role of schools to best prepare us for the needs of adulthood – including work?
How Education Kills Creativity
Sir Ken Robinson is a former university professor who now speaks on the value of creativity within education. His latest book, The Element, argues that the education system in its current form actually exorcises creativity from children and ill-prepares our kids for the reality of today’s business world.
I’m a big fan of Sir Ken. Not only due to the fact I agree with his thoughts on education, but also because I think that he one of the most impressive live presenters I have ever seen.
Here’s a link to his talk a few years ago at the TED conference. It’s about 15 minutes long, but I strongly urge you to take the time to watch a master at work. Whether you agree with him or not, you cannot but failed to be impressed at his presenting skills. No PowerPoint, no Keynote. Just Sir Ken. It’s no surprise it’s the most-viewed video on TED.
Here’s someone who understands how to communicate his business value more than most. Sit back and watch a master at work.