By Rob Reiche
July 30, 2018
It was at the recent BRICS Summit 2018 in Sandton, Johannesburg that President Cyril Ramaphosa quoted the WEF 2017 report on skills needed for the future and its impact on growing the World Economy.
It triggered a memory in me of career counselling when I was at school and deciding on my own future, the smell of newly sharpened pencils (this certainly dates me!), the sight of classrooms with neatly arranged wooden desks and the laughter of classmates sharing anecdotes of happy days.
The top three skills needed for 2020; complex problem-solving, critical thinking and creativity, but these were the very skills that were being pushed when I chose a career in engineering. At the time, creativity simply didn’t feature that prominently; the “flaky stuff” was left to people who wanted to pursue architecture and fine arts.
And yet creativity is something that we are all born with and yet somehow we let slip from our grasp, similar to the regret of not acting on that secret crush we had on the pretty girl down the street. But, is creativity something that can be reclaimed?
According to creativity coach Julie Daley,
“Everyone is creative. It is our nature. We are educated out of it. Creativity is not artistic ability. Creativity can be seen as an adventure. We are wired for adventure — part of us still wants that. The more personally invested you are in the solution, the less possibility you will see. When you get adamant about outcomes, you exit creativity. You have to step away from the problem for a bit. That’s often when the ‘aha’ moment comes.”
At one point in my engineering practice, I recognised the essential nature of creativity and set about restoring my creative juices by using techniques such as brain-storming and 7 Thinking Hats popularised by Edward de Bono and Roger von Oech. In spite of these efforts I found myself falling tantalisingly short of truly capturing the treasure-hunt excitement of finding something entirely new.
So, for me, resurrecting creativity has became all about shaking off the shackles of conditioning that I was subjected to at school, at home and social settings (when I started school it came as a shock of being told that I couldn’t wander over to my classmate’s table in class to find the answer to the problem posed by the teacher).
Personal change is always threatening at some level with some change being positively scary – especially when it means discarding something you believe is logical, reasonable and sensible. Creativity can be so unstructured and messy. Surely this can’t belong to the world of “serious work” – leave it to the web-designers, bloggers and musicians of the world!
Undoing years of habits can be challenging. However, neuroscientists and change practitioners have revealed that processes do exist to recover creative capabilities.
Forget about going back to the classroom to return to your original creativity. After all, the teaching is often (but not always) the very setting that robbed you of imagination and dreaming in the first place.
So our goal was to come up with a unique process to expose the creative blockages and rewire thinking – now successfully tested and implemented using, for instance, Creative Interchange.
For those who are willing to accept the challenge of fully embracing creativity, the rewards can be significant. Not only will you acquire the skills identified as critical for 2020, you will also regain that part of you that has been long abandoned – the joy of discovery, the satisfaction of accomplishment and acceptance of a contribution to the greater good.