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5 ways to maintain creativity in an increasingly automated world

  • Posted on March 5, 2019
  • Estimated reading time 3 minutes
creativity tips

Creativity – it’s a word that is ubiquitous with various professional fields in our industry, namely content creators, marketers and designers. However, creativity is more than interesting and unique ways to sell or design a product; it’s a mindset.

When you have empowerment, energy and creativity intersecting in a harmonious way, your organisation’s cultural is set up for success (yes, picture a Venn diagram!).

But is our creativity dying? Adobe did a worldwide study which uncovered that 75% of people felt the business they worked for was more concerned with productivity than creativity. Organisations that foster creativity across an entire organisation perform better than their peers, so this trend is a concern!

All humans yearn to be creative (albeit expressed in many different ways), so why aren’t organisations naturally geared to foster creativity?

Time pressures lure us into cookie cut solutions – the “find and replace” has meant society now seeks speed to market at the expense of meaningful human solutions.

An even more concerning trend are the alarming statistics uncovered in research by Dr. Kyung Hee Kim, a Professor of Creativity and Innovation at the College of William & Mary. Dr. KH Kim found that children are being starved of creativity – Dr. KH Kim writes: “[the] Creativity Crisis has grown worse. In addition, the results also reveal that the youngest age groups (5 and 6-year-olds) suffered the greatest. The significant declines in outbox thinking skills (fluid and original thinking) indicate that Americans generate not only fewer ideas or solutions to open-ended questions or challenges, but also fewer unusual or unique ideas than those in preceding decades”.

Creativity doesn’t discriminate and isn’t for the lucky few; it’s for all positions in all organisations. From small retailers to large multi-nationals, embracing creativity drives greater business outcomes. Whilst innovation labs and R&D teams are a great start (for example: NAB and Telstra) the investment needs to business wide and thus permeate into society and culture. We should be in the business of creating more creatives – thinkers destined to challenge the status quo all the while appreciating and respecting the process for achieving success.

In teams that I’ve been part of, we’ve established environments where creative solutions aren’t driven by managers.

At Avanade, our agile teams are encouraged to drive their own solutions within a framework, which has empowerment at its core. For example, a recent acquisition has meant we need to integrate this new entity into Avanade’s large offshore teams and the outcome of this integration is an operating model designed by the very people using it. To design a best of breed solution requires creative thinkers who can overcome technical, procedural and cultural challenges.

Our creativity embraces 5 principles – we have found these principles grow individuals and teams:

  1. Consistency – One act of creativity doesn’t mean you’re creative! Make your creative thinking habitual
  2. Courage – Make bold choices and take risks. Putting yourself in a position of vulnerability pushes personal and professional boundaries
  3. Listen and read – Surround yourself with creative thinkers and listen to those who are driving creative solutions. Allow them to be your bench mark. It’ll give you inspiration to do the same.
  4. Embrace failure – Your creative ideas or solutions won’t always work. Don’t judge the outcomes alone; learn from the process
  5. Pay it forward – Once you have the courage and confidence to be consistently creative, start to encourage others to do the same. Afford them the same right to learn

I feel a social and professional responsibility to drive creativity forward in an age where automation is challenging our creativity more than ever. The connected world is posing known and unknown challenges; it’s incumbent on us to foster and give rise to a new generation of young thinkers.

Let’s start the dialog on how we can continue to infuse our organisations with original thought and outbox thinking and, in an increasingly automated and operationalised world continue to drive forward the case for creativity.

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