The more creative you are means the less productive you are and if you’re productive surely that means you’ve got less time to be creative, right?
It used to be that spending time being creative meant less time being productive and vice versa, but in fact they go hand-in-hand. Today, productivity is about achieving more, not doing more and that happens with the addition of creativity.
In the Digital Age where everything and everyone is moving at a million miles an hour and your competitors are snapping at your heels, creativity and productivity are vital for long-term business growth, so we ask the question…
…can productivity and creativity play nice together?
Oh, there’s one other thing that’s probably worth mentioning before we go any further.
We are, as we’ve mentioned, in the Digital Age (or as some call it, the Information Age). It started around 1980 when we shifted from mechanical and analogue electronic technology and slowly through the 80s and into the 90s, 2000s and beyond, we adopted digital cameras, computers, smartphones and the internet but as we move deeper into the world of big data, it seems the Digital Age is making way for something else.
According to CEO of Sinovation Ventures and founding President of Google China Kai-Fu Lee, artificial intelligence and automation are potentially poised to take 40 – 50% of jobs in the next two or three decades but of course not all jobs are going to disappear at the same rate.
Jobs that require innate creativity will be out of reach of AI and robots.
The Digital Age is slowly but surely making way for the Creative Age.
Are Creativity & Productivity Happy Bedfellows?
They are if you allow them to be and there’s no question that times are a’changin’.
Adam Toren, founder of youngentrepreneur.com says, ‘It’s no longer practical for any organisation to measure productivity simply with numbers or to hold everyone on the team to the same standard. Behavioural economics and psychology tell us that people react differently to situations and have different approaches to getting things done.’
In addition, the ways of doing things in a business or organisation yesterday and today may not necessarily be the best, or cheapest or most efficient ways of doing things tomorrow. This is where creativity comes to the aid of productivity.
Creativity is one of those fluffy words that used to be the exclusive domain of artistic geniuses, but not anymore. In fact, creativity is present in all of us given the right environment. For forward-thinking 21st century businesses, it’s creativity that generates ideas, solves difficult problems, overcomes issues and exploits new and exciting opportunities.
It’s also a driving force in making productivity more efficient so staff can achieve more without necessarily doing more.
That’s not to say that the productivity element of a business need be overlooked. In days past, leaders tirelessly chased productivity in the form of short-term goals such as efficiency, who’s getting what done, hiring, cost-cutting and reducing waste. While these remain vital aspects of running a business, the gains in productivity, saving money and becoming greener are driven by the ability of teams and businesses as a whole to solve these problems and add value by being creative.
In 2017, a World Economic Forum report found that over half of CEOs interviewed planned to hire more staff but the skills they deem to be most important are those that won’t be able to be replicated by machines. Further to that in the same year in a study by workplaceinsight.net, 72% of employees believe their future success depends on their ability to be creative.
It will also come as no surprise to businesses that millennials are most attracted to business that allow them to express themselves and actively encourage creativity. With increasingly blurred disciplinary distinctions at work, the mixture of productivity and creativity is not only crucial for business growth but also for recruitment.
Can Creativity Lead To Increased Productivity?
Yes it can, and in fascinating ways.
Writing in entrepreneur.com, CEO of online meeting place company PGI Boland Jones outlines five great ways in which creativity leads to productivity.
Encouraging creativity promotes working without boundaries The best ideas never come from the land of ‘that’s how we’ve always done it.’ Ensuring your staff are always free to question the status quo (especially new, young hires) means that they’ll never get stuck in unproductive or inefficient ruts.
Creativity tackles bigger problems Doing things the same way over and over again in the most efficient way can be great for the stability of your business but it stops your employees from challenging both themselves, and the leaders of the business. While the creative process seems less productive, transitioning those efforts into ‘bigger picture’ problems means that productivity becomes meaningful and the business can flourish.
Fostering creativity shows employees that they can change their workplace No employee wants to feel like a drone. Letting teams make a visible and tangible difference to the work environment is an incredible motivator. Give them a voice and they will speak loudly, they will feel valued, it will increase loyalty and decrease attrition.
Creativity gets people emotionally invested Who wants to work without passion? For entrepreneurs, passion is a given but sparking a similar emotion in employees takes a little more effort. Staff who participate in the creative process and see it through to execution take ownership of the idea or project, they become emotionally invested and will work harder to see the fruits of their labours.
Promoting creativity removes the fear of failure By giving staff the freedom to fail – which can cripple the creative process and the flow of ideas – innovative thinking will bloom and new productivity heights will be realised.
The Creative Age will usher in new breeds of thinkers and doers and it’s vital that they are given the time and space to be the very best they can be. When creativity is enabled and actively encouraged at every level of a business or organisation, increased and more efficient productivity, innovation and collaboration will inevitably follow.