The Role of Creativity In Non-Creative Businesses

Creativity is one of the most important skills you can have, no matter which field you’re in– painting, writing, engineering, accounting, et cetera. In fact, after this, you’ll be able to recognize it in everyday situations where you couldn’t see it before.

the war of art summary

The war of art

by Steven Pressfield

⏱ 16 minutes reading time

🎧 Audio version available

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When people speak about creativity, they often speak about it as if it’s something rare– something quantifiable that only certain minds among us have. But the truth of the matter is that creativity isn’t that narrow. Being creative isn’t always about something like writing or painting. It exists in every part of life and business. You’ll find it in every department, in every job, and in every decision.

Broadly speaking, the integral role of creativity, even in non-creative businesses, includes increasing productivity, helping decision-making and problem-solving, cultivating a healthy company culture, and making companies more competitive– in a good way.

Let’s dive deeper into the underrated role of creativity in various professions. Think about it this way, if creativity wasn’t around in the abundance it exists in now, there would be no new inventive methods because people would stick to the old, outdated methods.

No matter how complex, far fetched, or ambitious your goals may seem, possessing business creativity can dramatically increase your chances of achieving them. Now, you may be thinking that there is no way a non-creative career, such as accounting, for example, has room for creativity to play a significant role.

And, yes, while some industries don’t have a lot of room to allow for creative thinking, it still exists. In accounting, there are non-negotiable rules, formulas, techniques, and such to follow, but no one ever said creativity was about completely changing things. It’s about improving; it’s about seeing opportunities where others don’t.

When creative employees locate an opportunity, they’re able to explore it more throughly than anyone else, to play with it and curiously follow where it leads them. Whatever challenges and hurdles slow them down, they create creative solutions to beat them.

Businesses that continue to bring something new, something creative and out of the box, are the ones that don’t just survive the cutthroat world of business; they grow and surpass the competition.

Companies like Apple, Tesla, and Facebook– companies who are flexible, continue to bring their A-game idea-wise, and are quick to adapt, they’re the ones favored by the public and the economy.

One of the roles creativity plays in business is in problem solving. Whenever someone comes up with a way to solve an issue– whether it’s a way to be more efficient, a way to improve a service, or even dealing with disgruntled customers, that’s peak creativity right there!

That means that creativity isn’t a rare commodity. It’s something that exists everywhere.

Creativity doesn’t just solve problems. It makes money.

According to the UN Conference on Trade and Development Creative Economy Outlook report in 2018, the creative goods’ global market– which includes fields such as fashion, film, and design– has dramatically increased from 2002 to 2015, going from $208 billion to a whopping $509 billion.

But that’s in creative business, does the same apply to others? The answer is an obvious and resounding “Yes!”

An IBM study found that among 1,500 CEOs, the single most important skill listed for leaders was creativity. It was also found that leaders who picked creativity as one of their top three leadership traits were 20% more likely to go for business model innovation.

To quote the same report, “To operate more effectively in a volatile environment, creative leaders strongly encourage and experiment with all types of business model innovation.”

In the future– the very near future, we might add, artificial intelligence will play a larger role in every industry. The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs predicts this. Backing this claim is artificial intelligence expert, Kai-Fu Lee, who believes that within 15 years, automation and AIs will replace more than half of the human workforce. When AIs replace manual tasks, what people scoff at as “soft skills” such as problem-solving, analytical thinking, ideation, innovation, and creativity, will be the only skills that cannot be replaced.

It’s because creativity is such a uniquely human trait that it cannot be artificially replicated or replaced by any sort of algorithm.

The World Economic Forum also estimates that creativity’s spot as the third most important skill for employees will be cemented soon enough, third behind problem-solving and critical thinking. They say, “With the avalanche of new products, new technologies, and new ways of working, workers are going to have to become more creative in order to benefit from these changes.”

IBM hails creativity as the number one factor that results in future business success, placing it above factors such as vision, management discipline, and integrity.

The reason creativity is given so much importance is creative leaders stand out for their ambiguity, which is the vital quality of being open to more than one interpretation. With industries constantly pushing the boundaries, leaders need to be ready to cope with evolving priorities.

Creativity and innovation are near-synonymous. Companies who continue to produce outdated and unappealing services or products– that no one wants anymore—don’t survive.

The world has long surpassed the age of a company simply needing to lower its prices to stay competitive. Now, smarter methods are necessary to maintain customers’ interest. Companies need to stay at least one step ahead. They need to be so innovative that they can predict a customer’s need before the customer does.

One of the best things about creativity and the reason it belongs on the list of the most important skills employees need is that it does wonders towards increasing a person’s productivity.

Creativity breeds motivation, and it helps employees feel excited about pushing themselves to do their best and explore uncharted territories.

Business creativity also improves overall morale as it makes people feel appreciated. It helps them grow professionally. It also encourages feedback– healthy feedback.

Creative thinking is an essential problem-solving skill. Whenever a situation arises where there is a challenge or a problem, you can bet everyone’s heads turn to the most creative person in the room, as they can be trusted to see this as an opportunity to fix or improve the situation.

Because they’re able to come at it from a different viewpoint or approach it from a different angle, their solutions are unique.

No one said it’s easy. Creative problem solving takes a considerable amount of effort and time, as well as collaboration from your team; it’s an irreplaceable skill in any workplace.

Take a company like the ever so innovative Apple, a company whose name is synonymous with creativity. Their entire motto is about standing out and thinking differently. For over a decade, Apple has been at the top of Boston Consulting Group’s list of “The Most Innovative Companies.”

That means that despite being a tech company, they speak for innovation, creativity, and design.

The public perceives nearly everything that Apple does favorably. Even though, let’s say, a person is comparing a Samsung and an iPhone, there is something more creative in the latter. They revolutionized the smartphone industry, virtual assistants, facial recognition, and more. That means customers, and the user experience, are directly related to the creativity of a product or service. It’s a fact: creative companies are infinitely more successful.

A Forrester survey interviewed numerous executives to test their theory about just how important creativity is to business. The survey found that 82% of the executives mutually agreed that creativity benefits companies. They listed some of the benefits, like increasing their revenue and having a greater market share.

58% of the executives added that when they’re setting goals, they do it around creative outcomes. Another 48% said they would rather give funding to new ideas that come out of creative brainstorming.

So, creativity shouldn’t be dismissed. It’s not frivolous, unnecessary, a waste of time, or a waste of resources. It is vital and deserving of a spot among the most important traits and skills in business. Employers should seek to reward creativity when they find it and to encourage it by providing their teams with flexibility. The results are nothing short of extraordinary.

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