Executive Strategy Director
Embrace the feels
Australia, it's time to nurture messy minds
Global data showcasing work trends suggest creative jobs will see a growth rate of 87 percent by 2030, compared with a sharp decline in the number of jobs in traditional industries. It’s clear that creativity matters more than ever before.
The genuinely inspiring leaders of the modern age use their minds differently. They solve challenges with unforeseen methods. They are intuitive empaths, listening to and being guided by gut instincts and emotions. As AI increasingly replaces rational thinking, creativity has never held more value. The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates that the creative sector contributes an astonishing AU$86.7 billion to our GDP. Moreover, if we play our cards right, this figure will only grow and, frankly, we need it to.
Today, Australia is the world’s 13th-largest economy. However, our economy, which currently relies heavily on generating growth from our natural resources, isn't growing fast enough. In fact, according to PwC’s 2050 Report, by 2030 Australia will drop from 13th to 29th position, swapping places with emerging countries including Bangladesh.
Australia: in case it’s not already entirely obvious, we have a problem. As with any problem, there’s always a solution: If the creative industry is essential to our economy’s growth, and creative thinking is the future of an individual’s growth: it’s high time we as a nation took it more seriously.
Over the last couple of years, corporates and consultancies have been busily building up internal creative teams, luring our valuable and once-monopolised employees over to what we affectionately term “the dark side”. The struggles they've experienced accommodating creative types and their less conventional, non-linear process has been well documented. While this is music to my ears, given that our economy relies on our ability to create working environments and cultures where creativity thrives, it’s important we focus on making creativity easier.
Don’t get me wrong, creativity isn’t for everyone. However, it can be made easier and accessible to more people. Here are three things companies can do to improve the creative output and general creativity that exists within their business already.
- Emotions fuel creativity. Stop squashing them.
If I had a dollar for every time someone in the workplace said to me, “you need to remove emotion from the equation”, I’d be a rich woman. As a strategist, data and analytics inform my thinking, insights, and ideas. However, it's emotion that edges thoughts on, clarifying and crystallising ideas into something truly fresh, compelling and unusual. In a world where information and knowledge are ubiquitous, it's emotion that cradles real power. When I talk about emotion I should be clear; I'm not talking about celebrating a culture of drama queens and dummy spitters. I’m talking about enabling people the freedom to feel, and to create a culture where emotion is accepted and explored.
My advice: Embrace the feels.
- Be afraid. Be very, very afraid.
Not everyone understands creativity. That’s what makes it magic. It’s unpredictable and scary for some people. There’s no logical process or clear outcome, and as a result, people don't necessarily trust it. A recent neuroscience study led by Roger Beaty tells us that creative people have pronounced connections between two conflicting areas of the brain: the domain associated with focus and control, and the domain associated with imagination and spontaneity. The entire creative process involves states of both euphoria and inspiration, as well as states of tranquillity and focus.
My advice: Get comfortable with discomfort.
- Create space for bad ideas.
The best ideas, the ones that strike an arrow through the heart of expectation, often begin as bad ideas. The problem with bad ideas is that they often don’t get the opportunity to exist beyond the minds of their creators. Instead, they're siphoned into the depths of someone’s shame and therefore never given a chance to be refined into something magical. Bad ideas are the best ideas when shaped into something cool and unexpected. But in order for this to happen, people need to feel safe sharing them. Creating an environment and culture open to any ideas, even apparently bad ones, is critical to creative success.
My advice: Create safe spaces where ideas thrive.
Creativity matters more than ever. As a nation we can’t afford to fear or fail to see its impact. Companies both within and beyond the creative industries need to understand the value inherent in bold thinking. More creatively minded leaders or at the least an empathy for and understanding of the creative process, is key.