Ken Robinson argues that for firms to compete on the world stage, employers and educators need to think more broadly about education and creativity
Economic change is moving faster than ever. Companies urgently need people who can generate ideas for new products and services and who can adapt to changing markets.
But they are finding it increasingly difficult to attract and retain such people. The McKinsey Quarterly has called this the “war for talent”, but why is there such a gap between the supply and demand for creative people? What’s going wrong?
One of the biggest problems is education. For generations we have wasted the creative resources that are now vital for personal fulfilment and economic success. The result is that training professionals are now finding themselves in the frontline of the war for talent.
New technologies are transforming the nature of work and the skills that are needed to succeed. There is an unprecedented demand for creative abilities. Education is meant to promote these abilities. But it doesn’t. The main reason is the preoccupation with academic ability and its confusion with general intelligence. Many highly intelligent people have passed through education feeling they aren’t that clever. Dozens of academically able people have never discovered their other abilities.
In the long term, our whole approach to education has to change. In the short term, companies and training organisations have to meet three immediate challenges. The first is to promote a better understanding of the real nature of creativity. The second is to implement a systemic strategy for developing creative capacities. Third is a commitment to reward creative output throughout the company.
Some people are thought to be naturally creative - the others, “the suits” are not. The “creatives” wear jeans and don’t wear ties and come in late because they’ve been struggling with an idea.
Yet ghettoising creativity is a profound mistake. Scientific studies of the brain confirm that intelligence is multifaceted. Creativity is not confined to particular people or activities. It’s possible in any activity that engages human intelligence. Different people have different creative strengths. For some it