After reading the article “Most People are Secretly Threatened by Creativity,” I was depleted and infuriated. It was total nonsense; how can people be secretly threatened by creativity? Creativity is the backbone of most of my identity as well as nearly 100% of the people I have come to know in varying communities including arts administration, marketing, event and hospitality management, and performing arts—even my engineering-focused friends at my alma mater were open-minded, creative vessels.
So, what is with this idea that creativity is threatening?
The article extended this interesting conflicting gem:
IBM recently asked 1,500 executives which leadership characteristics they most desired in employees. The number one trait: You guessed it, creativity. But the same study noted that more than 50% of executives said they struggled with, and felt unprepared to recognize and embrace, creative solutions. Study after study shows that new ideas are chronically rejected at many companies, even businesses that say they want more innovation.
And then these two:
Research shows that many teachers define creativity as a skill that’s mainly associated with the arts—thereby downplaying the essential role that creativity plays in everything from math and science to argumentative writing and sports.
Teachers routinely label creative students as “disruptive,” treating outside-the-box thinking not as a strength but as a problem to be dealt with.
What stood out most? The notion that creativity’s ability to break paradigms is problematic.
Creative ideas break paradigms. … People who are motivated to choose a correct solution demonstrate a clear negative (but unacknowledged) bias against creativity—even when they outwardly claim to love and cherish it.
Well, I’m not having it!
In a desperate move to find inspiration, I lunged deep into Fast Company’s list of the Most Creative People in Business in 2017 because, well, 1) I sit on a team of brilliant minds that promote the special intersection of arts and business (shout out to the Private Sector Initiatives team at Americans for the Arts), and 2) being under the influence of the pARTnership Movement, I just can’t ignore picture-perfect stories highlighting top business leaders who are conduits for creative and artistic influence.
I had to shake that article out of my mind.
And with that, I was able to satiate my appetite with 12 Lessons From the 100 Most Creative People of 2017:
1. LEADERS FIND A WAY by using a corporate perch to address the foulest problems of modern society.
2. SURPRISE AND DELIGHT CAN BE DESIGNED
We love function. We also love style. We want both. Product enhancement majorly increases when artistic design helps rethink how something is used.
3. AI IS DRIVING CONVERSATION
This is “augmented intelligence,” and it’s helping companies integrate creative technology into operations.
4. POSITIONING CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE
If your company is interested in having a political and social-conscious voice, get creative about how you share the message. Think public art like the Fearless Girl statue on Wall Street.
5. COMPASSION HAS NO BOUNDARIES
Think outside the box to discover remedies for helping your neighbor and others in your community.
6. LEARNING IS NEVER FINISHED
Think outside the box and create new ways to tell stories and make connections for us lifelong learners. Sesame Workshop created a hijab-wearing Muppet to champion female literacy in Afghanistan.
7. MOONSHOTS ARE MORE THAN DREAMS
Remaining creative and flexible can help you sail past your own limitations.
8. FINTECH IS CHARGING AHEAD
“Financial Technology” like digital payment platforms are also re-imagining standard business operations.
9. POWER IS SHIFTING
Utility power, that is. We’ve long seen utilities, energy companies, and environmental agencies rethink their business and improve efficiencies which helps generate revenue.
10. HEALTHY LIVING IS GETTING EASIER and moving people “from sick care to self-care” with wellness products, apps, and more.
11. OPENNESS SHOULD BE EMBRACED
With underrepresentation at top of mind, companies are discovering how to match marginalized communities with companies. These connections make for more inclusive teams that push companies to be stronger and higher functioning.
12. UNLOCKING HUMAN POTENTIAL IS AN ART
Actually, this was the brightest, shiniest nugget of them all—need we say more?
It’s no secret that artists are infusing entertainment with social impact. And the human component of corporate advancements cannot be ignored as Facebook’s Vice President of Product sums it up best: “Feelings are universal.”
Jessica Gaines is a member of Americans for the Arts.