The importance of creativity: ‘Quantifying the intangible’?

5th Oct 2014

One of the most pertinent quotes about creativity in the workplace was delivered by Albert Einstein, when he said, “creativity is contagious, pass it on”.

Google is the most high-profile company to build a culture around this mantra – as proven when it emerged last year that Google employees were given one day a week, or ‘20% time’, to use on creative collaboration.  

‘Googlers’ are luckier than most, however, and according to Adobe and Forrester’s latest study, the importance of creativity is often overlooked in most organisations because of the challenge of proving the tangibility; not to mention how you can attach ‘quantifiable’ business results to it.   

The Creative Dividend research surveyed 300 senior managers in global businesses to establish what role creativity and innovation was given for employees. It found that 61% of respondents did not currently see their companies as creative; only 11% said their practices were aligned with firms readily recognised as creative, while 10% felt their practices felt like “the exact opposite of what creative companies do”.

Yet for the companies that did feel they were driving the importance of creativity into staff,  the report find a correlation with generated revenue: 58% said they actively fostered creativity across the workplace and that it had led to 2013 revenues exceeding their 2012 revenues by 10% or more. In contrast, only 20% of ‘less creative’ companies performed similarly.

“For years, business leaders have focused on things like employee productivity, process efficiency and workforce planning as the key success drivers for their companies,” said David Wadhwani, senior vice president, digital media at Adobe.

“But over the past few years, the mindset has shifted. Leading companies recognise the importance of another key success driver – the need to infuse creativity into all aspects of the business environment – from strategy and culture, to innovation and customer engagement, and creative companies are 50% more likely to report a commanding market leadership position over competitors.”

The report's other findings included:

More creative companies win recognition as a best place to work
The survey showed that 69% of “creative” firms also reported winning awards and national recognition for being a “best place to work”. Just 27% of less creative companies achieved similar accolades. Creative companies create a high-performance work environment, since 83 creative firms reported winning national attention while only 26 less creative firms did the same.

More companies are beginning to putting creativity on the business agenda
When respondents were asked to identify how they pursue creativity, the majority said they set goals around creative outcomes (58%) and collaborate with customers to achieve them (58%), with their executives “prioritising (55%) and funding new ideas (48%) that come out of creative brainstorming and ideation”.

Creativity thrives with leadership support
The survey results found that executives and business leaders should nurture, fund, and promote programs to increase creative capability and encourage the “creation of novel customer experiences that build bonds and increase brand loyalty”.  


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