As technology continues to accelerate at pace, there are only two skills that will differentiate us from robots: creativity and emotional intelligence. Which means it is no surprise that business leaders, in a report commissioned by the World Economic Forum, placed creativity as the third most important skill in the workplace of 2020, jumping from tenth position in 2015.
In the future, the companies that thrive rather than survive will have the ability to turn ideas into value faster than their competitors. And to do this, they must use creativity to awaken the ‘seeking system’. This is a part of the brain that starts firing when we feel an urge to try new things and learn as much as possible about our environments.
As Daniel Cable says in his fantastic book, Alive at Work: “The seeking system doesn’t seem to reward us for innovation and creativity, but rather it drives and propels these behaviours… [it] is optimal in work settings because it urges us into action instead of making us complacent.”
There is, of course, a long-standing belief that not everyone is creative. I simply don’t believe that is true – and by tapping into four creative superpowers, we can all unleash creativity in our colleagues:
Makers are people who recognise the difference between making and doing. It is only makers that create culture and deliver real change. They are people who understand that the best way to make something happen is to make something happen.
Hackers are people who assume that something is broken and look for ways to fix it. They enjoy the challenge of creatively overcoming and circumventing limitations of systems to achieve novel and clever outcomes. Hackers understand that the best way to solve a big problem is to break it down into smaller parts and solve each of these parts.
In a world that is moving so quickly, the first person you need to teach is yourself. Only then can you teach others. As Alvin Toffler predicted: “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.”
As Grayson Perry so eloquently put it: “Originality is for people with short memories.” So many businesses confuse invention and innovation. Some of the most interesting innovations come from taking something that has been implemented elsewhere and finding a novel use for it.
The best HR practitioners will be those who can develop the environment in which people with these creative superpowers can really thrive. They will awaken seeking systems, place creativity on the board’s agenda, and respect that creativity is a universal human endeavour and, most fundamentally, the only thing that will keep the machines at bay.
But of course you also need to relearn, so take the time to unleash your own creative superpowers. Once you do, not only will your job be easier, but you will find you have far more fun doing it.
Daniele Fiandaca is co-founder of Utopia and co-editor of Creative Superpowers