I once attended a conference where everyone in the audience was asked: ‘Are you creative?’
A few hands went up around the room, but not many. Until the speaker explained how creativity was not about being ‘artistic’ (as many of us had assumed), but actually about problem solving, thinking laterally, generating and brainstorming new visions and coming up with different ways of presenting those ideas.
Creativity, curiosity, experimentation and expression of ideas are all things that are not usually associated with work, a job, a business or a career.
Yet according to the 2016 World Economic Forum report, The Future of Jobs, chief human resources and strategy officers from leading global organisations revealed that the skill of creativity, in particular, will be a necessary asset for anyone working in 2020, in all levels of an organisation, including CEOs.
It is thought that as we begin to rely more on machines to make decisions and automate tasks, then humans will need to find innovative answers to complex business problems and supply what machines cannot: creativity.
Creativity does not mean you have to be artistic, as most of us believe. Rather, it means having the ability to problem solve, to think laterally, through experimentation, curiosity, imagination, innovation and expression of ideas.
This is something that, traditionally, organisations do not encourage or, in some cases, even allow.
But in addition, a recent IDC study identified the following 10 most important skills employers are looking for in future candidates:
- Oral and written communication skills
- Project management
- Microsoft Office
- Team-oriented, teamwork
- Problem solving
- Detail oriented
- Microsoft PowerPoint
All of these skills (including creativity) are vital in creative agencies, but are now strongly associated with all types of roles, organisations, and industries.
They are particularly critical for any of us putting together presentations. Communication skills, Microsoft Office, creativity and PowerPoint are essential for businesses and business professionals, whether you are communicating the latest vision or values, selling stakeholders an idea or inspiring your team to act.
These skills ensure you stand out in a competitive marketplace, whether you’re in admin, are a middle manager, a thought leader or leading CEO.
You might have the best brain in the office, but if you can’t clearly articulate and communicate that knowledge to your team and come up with creative ways of communicating and sharing your ideas then you’ll fail to progress in your career.
Being creative at work does not mean you have to have bean bags and ping pong tables.
It can start as simply as brainstorming.
Write down all your ideas for an upcoming presentation on sticky notes. This is about quantity not quality – it’s a brain dump. Silence your inner voice and set your mind free.
Next, sketch your ideas onto paper. This is about visualising your main message, key points, data and info so it will make sense to you and to others. Draw diagrams and mind maps to connect the dots and your thinking. Remember, this is not about ‘being artistic’; it is about exploring.
Then organise your thoughts and points. Get rid of everything that isn’t essential. Start making choices and focus on what achieves your objective. This is your ‘aha’ moment where you start to make sense of everything you have brainstormed or sketched out.
Above all else, remember that the creative process is supposed to be fun.
Inspiration comes from everyday stuff and situations like books, magazines, and when you’re out walking the dog.
Just try it and see.