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B2W Radio - Creativity Can’t Be Memorized

B2W Radio - Creativity Can’t Be Memorized

Elane V. Scott
Rick Stephens
Featured Guest:
Sir Ken Robinson

Dear Stakeholder Leaders,

Few key words drive business leaders' conversations these days more than "creativity" and "innovation", especially when they're talking about the workforce. Today's competitive work environment typically requires more than the ability to do the same task over and over. It requires an ability to see new and better ways to improve current tasks or make up something new altogether. Old skills may have been worth $25 an hour to businesses that needed a pair of reliable hands and a steady eye to watch the assembly lines. But those jobs have generally gone away and a new breed of worker has emerged. This one thinks differently, knows more, and looks for ways to add value to the job he or she is doing every day. Technology is a mandate and is speeding things up in the office and at home, but do the many programs and pieces of hardware inspire real creativity, or just reaction to the creativity of others? There is an intense global interest in how to promote real creativity and how to identify the conditions under which it flourishes, yet few really seem to know how to define it.

On this Birth2Work Radio program our guest is Sir Ken Robinson, PhD, an internationally recognized speaker and leader in the development of tools for teaching and sharpening creativity. He discusses with me and co-host Rick Stephens the necessity for creativity in the workplace, the use of unprecedented technological tools that can support innovation, and the unintended consequence of the loss of opportunities to practice being creative in our youth because our education systems are required to constrain differences in learning in order to meet test goals.

What is creativity? As Robinson defines it: creativity is the process of having original ideas that have value. Largely, the public eschews its own sense of creativity, pushing it into the realm of a select few, and usually only those in the arts. But in business, leaders are now cultivating organizational dynamics where creative ideas are routinely sought and encouraged. But, no matter the discipline, it takes confidence to try something new. That means when stretching to try out an original idea, there must also must be freedom to fail, as opposed to mistakes being stigmatized. There has to be a culture where it’s OK to make mistakes in order for creativity to thrive. Consider this story about the scientist Jonas Salk who, when asked where he got the courage to go on trying after he failed so many times to find the cure for polio, quickly relayed that his mother never criticized him when he made a mistake. One morning, at a very tender age, he tried to use his full (though small) hand to pull the milk bottle from the refrigerator. When it went crashing to the floor he glanced quickly at his mother who stood nearby and she just shook head and smiled. “I guess you’ll have to figure out another way to get milk for your cereal.” And she turned back to he work. This story well illustrates one of Robinson’s key principle on creativity: it is tough to be creative in the abstract. Creative people are in control of something, like Salk was in charge of his personal experience, or others in charge of a well-developed skill, or a body of knowledge, and those people have likely been validated for one or all of those things. They can then take their experiences or their knowledge and with a little imagination, conceive of whole new systems and/or applications. That is creativity!

Life experiences at home like the one Salk talked about, and programs and lessons (at school) that encourage young people to make things up and figure things out are what ready them to become successful adults. It is important to learn to question, in all forms, and put new knowledge to use right away. People who are ready for a lifetime of gainful employment and active citizenship, who add value to their companies, innovate ideas for their own businesses, and/or serve in their families and communities are both creative and innovative because environments are constantly changing. Nothing can substitute for real experience in the wise use of today’s tools to create a better future.

Hear this internationally favorite speaker, whose TED talk has been downloaded more than 6 million times, talk from his heart and his own experience about creativity and innovation for the future.

Elane V. Scott

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