Are You Killing Your Workers’ Creativity?
Published April 25, 2012
New research shows that 80 percent of people in five of the world's largest economies feel that unlocking creativity is critical to economic growth. And nearly two-thirds of people feel creativity is valuable to society. But only one in four of the survey's respondents believe they are living up to their own creative potential. Are we facing a global creativity gap?
Judging by evidence from the workplace, the answer is yes. In a study of 5,000 adults across the U.S., U.K., Germany, France and Japan sponsored by Adobe, a software developer, three out of four respondents said they are under growing pressure to be productive rather than creative, despite the fact that they are increasingly expected to think creatively on the job.
Across all of the countries surveyed, people said they spend only 25 percent of their time at work creating. Lack of time is seen as the biggest barrier to creativity (47 percent globally, 52 percent in United States).
More than half of those surveyed said that creativity is being stifled by their education systems, and many believe creativity is taken for granted (52 percent globally, 70 percent in the United States).
The United States ranked globally as the second most creative nation among the countries surveyed, except in the eyes of Americans, who see themselves as the most creative. Yet Americans also expressed the greatest sense of urgency and concern that they are not living up to their creative potential.
Generational and gender differences were marginal, reinforcing the idea that everyone has the potential to create. Women ranked only slightly higher than men when asked if they self-identified as creative and whether they were tapping their own creative potential.
"One of the myths of creativity is that very few people are really creative," said Sir Ken Robinson, an education and creativity expert. "The truth is that everyone has great capacities, but not everyone develops them. One of the problems is that too often our educational systems don’t enable students to develop their natural creative powers. Instead, they promote uniformity and standardization. The result is that we're draining people of their creative possibilities and, as this study reveals, producing a workforce that's conditioned to prioritize conformity over creativity."