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Creativity in the 21st Century

CEOs identify creativity as the number one leadership competency.

By John Dillon | Posted June 1, 2006 | Updated October 25, 2019

According to a recent survey of more than 1500 CEOs from 60 countries and 33 industries worldwide, chief executives believe that — more than rigor, management discipline, integrity, or even vision — successfully navigating an increasingly complex world will require creativity.

Frank Kern, senior vice president of IBM Global Business Services, said, "CEOs identify creativity as the number one leadership competency of the successful enterprise of the future."

Even more recently Newsweek came out with a cover story about how we have a "creativity crisis" in America, with scores that measure creativity declining significantly in the last 20 years. According to the article, "One likely culprit is the number of hours kids now spend in front of the TV and playing video games, rather than engaging in creative activities. Another is the lack of creativity development in our schools. In effect, it's left to the luck of the draw who becomes creative: there's no concerted effort to nurture the creativity of all children." And, this doesn't just mean mean more art and music in schools (although that would help), but rather, what is really needed is a specific curriculum to teach creative skills to our children.

If creativity is the most important skill needed for future success, and creativity is on a serious decline in our society, don't you think it would make sense to invest in re-discovering and developing our creative abilities?

At least one state is already on board. The state legislature of Massachusetts has recently passed a bill that would, "establish a commission to study how schools foster student creativity... the measure would set up a commission to develop an index that would rate every public school in the Commonwealth on teaching, encouraging, and fostering creativity in students."

We live in a society in which about 90 percent of the people are left-brain dominant –– really good analytical thinkers –– and many people don't think that they're creative at all. Now this isn't much of a surprise since we're just beginning to come out of the Information Age. For the better part of a century, success has been defined by our ability to manipulate and analyze information, and as a result our educational system is almost entirely focused on developing left-brain analytical thinking. So, yes, it's not surprising that we live in a world where creativity is indeed undervalued.

So we live in a world where creativity is lacking, and according to the IBM study, creativity is the most important quality for future success... Can you see that there is an opportunity here? If creativity is seriously lacking in our society, wouldn't we have a competitive advantage if we just invested a little bit of time and energy into exercising our creative muscles and tapping into our inner creative brilliance? I think so

©2006 John Dillon. All rights reserved.

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