With record numbers of new SMEs starting up in recent years, competition between businesses has never been stronger. In 2020 alone, over 700,000 new businesses were created, with even more predicted for the 2021-22 period. Whether you’re a seasoned business owner with decades of entrepreneurial experience or a newly-minted business leader, one of the more important tools to your arsenal with regard to rising above competition could be passing you by: creativity.
What is Creativity?
Creativity is a tough concept to meaningfully define, by virtue of its qualitative nature. That is, there are no numbers or figures that can be ascribed to creativity, though its effects are indeed measurable. Creativity, in essence, is imagination applied, much in the same way that physics is maths applied. Creativity is inspired innovation, and the establishment of that innovation as a tangible ‘thing’ – whether a physical invention, a streamlined process or a new way of approaching a problem.
We traditionally attribute creativity to art, as artists create new music, paintings and literature from communing with their imagination. However, creativity can be applied to everything, and is a cornerstone of progression across industries and sectors. So, how can that be?
Why is Creativity Important for Economic Development?
When thinking in business terms, progress and growth is considered to be an iterative process: test ‘A’ against ‘B’, choose the better performer, and then again. But doing this requires following a prescribed process, and can actually limit growth as a result of chaining the business to an ineffective system. Creativity is a disruptive process, through which new ideas and refinements to strategy can accelerate growth or improve performance. The beauty inherent to creative processes in business strategy lies in the edge it can give the innovating business, as new ideas propel businesses ahead of competition.
To understand the importance of creativity to economic development, it is also necessary to rethink our relationship with the concept of creative output. Products of creativity tend to be seen as assets or artefacts that evoke emotion, being artworks first and foremost. But creativity applies universally, and its results can be effective in even the most unexpected of places.
Creativity as an Asset
Putting creativity into practice in the workplace has no one end result; it is an asset in a variety of departments, and for a variety of applications. As a department or business leader, consider how a creative approach could help solve a stagnating project with a looming deadline. With the knowledge that the existing process is not producing ideal results, what kind of disruption would re-invigorate the team? The creative leader is the more successful one, for finding unique solutions to common but nebulous problems.
Showcasing creativity also proves a powerful way for employees to make their qualities known. In one recent example of creativity begetting employment, flyer specialists instantprint received a taste of their own medicine when a job applicant had his details printed using the service, before flyering instantprint employee vehicles in the car park of their office. The position had been applied to by around 140 applicants, but the flyering stunt put the creative applicant at the top of instantprint’s list – and clinched him the position.
Creativity is an inestimable quality, with unpredictable results. But nurturing creativity honestly and receptively can open new doors to success, where following the script can easily lead to stagnation. As a business forging a new route through the challenges of the coming years, creativity could well be your most powerful tool.