The Global Creativity Gap: My Right-Brainer Analysis of Left-Brainer Research (Where’s Our Creativity Going? Pt. 3)

Last week our Social Media Strategist/ Sr. Account Executive Simon Trabelsi shared a quasi-scathing and largely ignored glove-slap response to writer Sam Laird‘s article on Adobe’s April 2012 study, “The State Of Creative.” Today, Simon provides his POV on the global creativity gap implied in the research data.

Click title to expand full infographic

Disclaimer: Though I wish I could use every single key finding in this research as irrefutable empirical ammunition to further my quest for creative appreciation (“Feed the creatives!” is what we always say around these parts), I do have reservations regarding the methodology. I’ve outlined my concerns in full here.

Despite my concerns, I regard the conclusions drawn from the study as a legitimate indicator of societal trends and will provide my reactions simply because I’ve realized not everyone sees or supports my opinion on the long term solution to strive for (or even on whether the research indicates a problem that needs to be solved). 

On to the creativity gap (sorry, the words “creative” and “creativity” will appear thirty thousand, hundred million times in this column).

Tell me the picture painted by this combination of stats isn’t a bit alarming (in all seriousness, don’t tell me that because I will blank-stare you into oblivion): Four out of five people feel creativity is critical to economic growth and two-thirds of people feel creativity is valuable to society, yet only a quarter of people feel like they’re living up to their creative potential! Even worse, a majority of people cited schools as a stifler of creativity and don’t feel creativity is encouraged in the workplace.

The majority of people are on the wrong side of the gap

As previously alluded to, I have a personal desire for a stronger appreciation of creative expression in society so I’m happy to know a majority of people share my sentiments. Right-Brain exercises don’t seem well represented in school or at work, and maybe that should change. Unfortunately a rather large chunk of the survey sample has no real say in calling those shots, and perhaps those who do can provide legitimate rebuttals to why creativity isn’t as important to society as the majority seems to think. As quickly as I drew my macro-level conclusion, there MUST be a massive oversight in my logic or someone needs to be fielding “All this time, why didn’t you think of that?”-questions quicker than fast.

Successful Nation – driven by successful economy;

Successful Economy – driven by successful industries;

Successful Industries – driven by successful corporations;

Successful Corporations – driven by successful management;

Successful Management – driven by successful employees

By my crude logic, a successful economy on some level trickles down to productive members of the workforce, so one would think it might behoove all of us to get a nice grasp on what makes successful employees. That topic is up for discussion, but a study by the Warwick Business School suggests a very clear link between happiness and productivity. A variety of things incite happiness in people, but a few generally accepted factors are stress levels, family time and reasonably enjoyable daily duties. Given that more than half of Americans regard themselves as “creative,” and a quarter of Americans feel they’re living up to their potential in that field, could something be gained in employee motivation by infusing some creativity in the workplace? You tell me.

I realize those whose primary objective is capitalistic gain could typically give a hoot about creativity unless it’s directly monetized(like the music industry for example), but perhaps a simple change in the professional culture could yield results indirectly through fostering employee happiness. Even if that’s not an incentive, what about the potential cognitive advantages linked to creativity? Studies conducted by Nina Kraus, Ph.D, a professor at Northwestern University, indicates that creative endeavors such as playing instruments enhances the brain’s ability to learn and develop. Whether exalting creativity or not, I’d assume any and all corporations want sharper, keener employees.

Of course it all trickles down to the education system, politics and cultural values; a higher focus on creativity in school would likely lead to both a stronger supply and demand of individuals who can engage the Right-Brain when needed. There are creative aspects in almost any task – the key is unlocking them. Even when I perform Left-Brain tasks like analyzing market research, there is something creative and exciting about bringing the numbers and stats together to tell a story. Doing this without engaging the Right-Brain would certainly be tough.

So what’s my solution? A stronger emphasis and higher value placed on creative endeavors throughout society, from school to the workplace and beyond. In our creative-driven industry, most agencies are already aligned, and a more open-minded corporate culture seems slowly on the rise. Unfortunately we’ll probably continue asking ourselves a thousand questions about how to become a more productive society without resolve until there’s a true shift. Womp womp.

I say all that to say this: creativity is super important to me and I literally become a very unproductive worker and member of society when I don’t feel properly fed. Consequently, when you see me in a meeting doodling just note that I’m still listening and adding to the bottom line in a roundabout way by not allowing my Right-Brain to go unused… and then give me a solid high five. 


Monday staff meeting doodle

The opinions within this column are those of the writer and contributors and do not necessarily reflect the views of IMAGES USA

How do you feel about creativity in school and at the work place? Are you creatively starved? Weigh in!


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