Business Times

Now, more than ever before, the world needs creativity

Focus on creativity
By Eric Frank, Executive Creative Director, Saatchi & Saatchi, Sri Lanka

When I was at school I spent much of my time in class totally immersed in drawing pictures in my books. No margin, introductory page or fly-leaf was spared and when it finally came down to confronting my exam results; I discovered that the time spent on llustrating my fantasies was directly related to my poor marks in subjects that actually didn’t interest me.

During that time function and logic were the passwords to a successful future and the concept of creativity (the stuff behind my drawings) was considered part of the arts; the exclusive domain of painters, inventors, writers, and other weird people.

Sir Richard Branson ( pictured here as a schoolboy).

There is no doubt that creativity is the most important human resource of all. Without creativity, there would be no progress, and we would forever be repeating the same patterns - Edward de Bono
Fortunately things must change. With the world facing multiple crises, it is now imperative that leaders and business encourage creativity at every level. Because, creativity is the mother of innovation and both are critical to the future of our planet.

What defines creativity? Creativity is a mental and social process that is stimulated by insight-conscious and unconscious.

It powers ideas, concepts and associations. Innovation, in turn is the successful exploitation of new ideas - it’s the profitable outcome of the creative process involved in generating and supplying new products and services that are viable, desirable and necessary.

Creators and innovators may rarely have the same perspectives or attributes but more often than not they are equally motivated and committed to their goals. Their ability to excel in finding solutions to the challenges they face is what makes them such inspiring people.

The key question isn’t “what fosters creativity?” but it is why in God’s name isn’t everyone creative? Where was the human potential lost? How was it crippled? I think therefore a good question might be not why do people create? But, why do people not create or innovate? We have got to abandon that sense of amazement in the face of creativity, as if it were a miracle if anyone created anything - Abraham Maslow.

Who is Creative? If like many, you believe that only a select few are born creative, you’re wrong. The creative geniuses we look up to are just like you and I. Except when it comes to expressing our creativity we are paralysed by fear of failure and ridicule.

Perhaps we’ve been brainwashed by education or our upbringing has led us to believe that thinking differently is wrong. But, believe it or not, failure is essential to creativity. Without creative failure we wouldn’t have computers, light-bulbs, telephones or the humble post-it-note.

The three components of creativity.

1.Expertise is basically knowledge in all its facets.
2.Creative-thinking skills are determined by how imaginative and flexible you approach problems.
3. Motivation is your passion to solve problems in an innovative and refreshing manner.

Leveraging our creativity: Just like our creative heroes, we also have brains and lots of ideas spinning around in our heads. The only difference between us and them is that they act. They have the courage and self-belief to make their ideas happen.

Take Sir Richard Branson ( pictured here as a schoolboy). While suffering from dyslexia and delivering less than stellar academic performance, Branson discovered he had an ability to connect with people. Focusing upon what he was passionate about, he pursued his own creativity with no fear of failure and in a few short years changed the face of business world-wide.

After he failed to successfully grow and sell Christmas trees, Branson was barely 18 when he launched a magazine, “The Student”, from a crypt in a church near his home. Shortly after that he used it to market his own record company, Virgin Records. In no time both enterprises were thriving successes. Two years later, at the age of 20, he opened the first Virgin Music Store in Oxford Street.

In subsequent years he went on to reinvent the entire music industry and develop his Virgin empire into one of the world’s biggest and most valuable brands. "For me business is not about wearing suits, or keeping stockholders pleased. It's about being true to yourself, your ideas and focusing on the essentials." - Sir Richard Branson

We need more Bransons’ and we need to encourage and inspire as many people as we can to step forward and apply their massive creative potential to discover alternative fuel sources, ways to combat climate change, disease and famine. We urgently need to do anything rather than nothing. The secret to the future is in our creative power.

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