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Creativity is the strategic tool of the 21st century – a guest blog by Tania de Jong AM

Australia is a highly successful and prosperous nation. However, we have ridden on our luck, especially in relying on our natural resources to get us through. In the 21st century being lucky isn’t enough.  We have to work on nurturing our talent and inventiveness – in short, our creativity.  For CEOs, creativity is now regarded as the most important leadership quality for success in business, outweighing even integrity and global thinking, according to a new study by IBM. The study is the largest known sample of one-on-one CEO interviews, with over 1,500 corporate heads and public sector leaders across 60 nations and 33 industries polled on what drives them in managing their companies in today’s world.

Yet futurist Ryan Matthews and Watts Wacker recently stated that  “Creativity has become the most universally endangered species of the 21st Century. Never has the need for creativity been so compelling and never has genuine creativity been in such short supply. We have a broadband culture but not the content to fill it.”

We pride ourselves on our innovation and creativity, but what is the truth?

  1. According to McKinsey we are not as innovative compared to other countries as we think we are.
  2. We tend to think of the artists and scientists as the “creative ones”, yet many artists and scientists struggle to make a living
  3. Many of our corporate leaders agree that developing a culture of innovation is critical, yet acknowledge that they do not allow their people to think.
  4. Innovation is siloed into advanced manufacturing and biotechnology/medical research

In today’s fast paced business environment, creativity and innovation is a prerequisite for success, and perhaps even for survival. That is why creativity and innovation are now moving to the top of the agenda for organizations around the world.  It is not a coincidence that companies such as ANZ, Telstra and CSC have recently appointed heads of creativity and innovation.

Creativity and innovation is a core competency for leaders and managers. We need to teach people how to perceive the world in new ways, to find hidden patterns, to make connections between seemingly unrelated phenomena, to ask important questions and to generate solutions. Generating fresh solutions to problems, and the ability to create new products, processes or services for a changing market and new world are part of the intellectual capital that gives a company its competitive edge. Creativity is a crucial part of the innovation equation.

Many experts and futurists believe that organizations need to place greater emphasis on right-brain functions such as artistic, big picture thinking and the ability to conceptualise.
At Creativity Australia and Creative Universe we believe that creativity is the strategic tool of the 21st century. Creativity offers the answers to many of the big issues we face in these unprecedented times, because it can help unlock our full human potential and connect us to others.

Doing so can develop stronger communication and problem solving skills, and thereby foster sustainable levels of motivation and wellbeing at a personal and organisational level. This will in turn lead to greater levels of engagement and innovation in organisations, and an enhanced ability to make a contribution to our society rather than just focussing on profits.

One of the challenges businesses face today is overcoming the barriers to stimulating creativity and innovation. We need to create opportunities for individuals and communities to connect with one another in new and meaningful ways, and to share and develop new ideas.

Creativity is the key to our nation’s and our world’s future.  It is time that we realise that everyone is creative. We need to start investing in our human creative capital to solve the problems besetting our world and re-think the future.

If you would like to increase your Creative Innovation – and your competitive edge at work – you might benefit from attending Creative Innovation 2010.  In Melbourne on 8-10 September at the Melbourne Recital Centre, it is an opportunity to join a conversation with over 35 world class thinkers and speakers including Edward De Bono, Advisor to the US Department of Defence Edward Luttwak (USA), McKinsey Managing Partner Michael Rennie, Hunger Project’s Cathy Burke, Author David Rock, Pig Pen Founder Claire Penniceard, ABC journalist Beverley O’Connor, technology/education guru Stephen Heppell (UK), CSI’s Peter Shergold, Future Cities’ Austin Williams (UK), Australian of the Year Patrick McGorry, Founder of Resmed Dr Peter Farrell (USA), ANZ CEO Mike Smith, robotics expert Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte,  Ex-President Microsoft Steve Vamos, ABC’s Mark Scott, Ormond College’s Rufus Black, social entrepreneur Tania de Jong and others….

About the Author | Tania de Jong AM is the Founder & Executive Producer of Creative Innovation 2010, a major conference taking place in Melbourne September 8-10 featuring world class speakers including Edward de Bono and Edward Luttwak.  The aim is to demonstrate strategies and processes for creating organisational performance, productivity and wellbeing and showcase the world’s best practice solutions and ideas for the development of innovative futures for community, business and government.


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