The concept of creativity can be intimidating. The word alone has been known to send the quants among us running (figuratively) for Excel, but let’s step (if only briefly) away from the spreadsheet and think again. Creativity doesn’t require a set of paints or a penchant for design. You are inherently creative and with a little commitment to stretching that muscle, creative thinking can take your career to the next level. Whether your discipline is quantitative or qualitative, your industry artistic or mechanical, creative thinking could be the key to unlocking new opportunities and expanding your prospects. 60% of CEOs polled by IBM reported creativity as the most important leadership quality.
Why is creativity so important?
Complex problems require creative solutions. Often, the specific cause of a problem can be difficult to pinpoint; when this is the case, creative problem solving can help you to generate and explore potential solutions. Effective creative problem-solving is based on a few key principles, starting with the combination of divergent and convergent thinking. This combination unlocks new ideas that can be applied in a practical way. Learn more about creative problem solving framework and the four key steps here. If the notion still seems too ethereal, jump into the more structured process of design thinking to activate your creative problem solving skills!
Innovation begins with creativity. In the age of technology and data, we may shy away from “creativity,” but we love innovation. We admire those who drive innovation forward. We herald the value of new, cutting-edge ideas, and revolutionary ways of doing, being, and making. The beginning of innovation is creative ideas. Whether the final product is an immersive art experience, or an improved energy process, the beginning is the same: creative thinking. This link between creativity and innovation is so undeniable, Stanford has developed two programs. The Creativity and Design Thinking Program is designed to precede the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program.
Creative thinking unlocks career paths and acceleration. In many fields, there is a set path: accountant to manager to partner, associate to partner, analyst to associate to VP. When you’re in the thick of it, the path can feel like the only path. If the path is working for you, then creative thinking and problem-solving can help you to stand out and progress. If you find yourself wishing there were another path, then creative thinking can help you create a new one. Begin by asking yourself questions. What skills have I built and practiced in my work? What do I most enjoy in my career? Where do I notice a lack of the traits I’ve grown in this field? A new path, or even a blue ocean might be just ahead!
Whether you’re hoping to solve a persistent problem at work, to create a new concept or entrepreneurial venture, or prove you’re the clear pick for the next promotion, creativity is key.