Without creativity, there is no innovation. That’s why creativity is among the top 10 most essential skills of the future, according to the World Economic Forum. But more often than not, we’re caught in routines that drain us of our creativity and keep us from producing innovative work. It’s no wonder that only 29% of workers strongly agree they’re expected to be creative or think of new ways to do things at work.

Creativity is often regarded as a magical skill you either have or don’t. But in reality, it’s a teachable skill. Creative thinking is the ability to perceive the world in new ways, connect seemingly unrelated ideas, and design solutions for complex business objectives. To cultivate your creative muscle, you must practice it frequently and empower the teams around you to do the same. Because if you don’t, your organization will get left behind. 

The benefits of developing creativity 

The uncertain economic conditions of 2020 and 2021 have prompted organizations to rethink ways in which “it’s always been done.” Innovating upon existing processes is critical to adapting to the market’s changing demands. Encouraging creativity in the workplace is essential to fostering a culture where employees feel empowered to propose new ideas. 

Creativity helps your people flourish

Research from Gallup shows a link between workplace engagement and creativity, which ultimately translates into a connection between innovation and market share. An organization that encourages employees to think creatively sees higher employee engagement. When employees are more motivated and willing to go the extra mile, innovation occurs. Nearly eight out of 10 highly engaged employees regard their companies as having a culture that nurtures innovation, whereas only half of the least engaged employees say the same.

Creativity drives innovation 

To unlock innovative ideas, leaders must start with creativity. The first step is to give employees the time and freedom to be creative — an invitation to innovation. Creativity requires freedom and a degree of psychological safety to feel able to take risks. Research shows the value of building inclusive, psychologically safe workplaces in creating productive and innovative organizations. Managers can help bolster conditions for all employees to feel like they belong and foster a more innovative and creative workplace to help employees thrive.

Creativity helps future-proof your business

Being open to creativity and a willingness to adapt to change is how businesses succeed. Show resistance to change, and those companies will quickly find themselves obsolete. When companies aren’t adaptable, this is often the moment when smaller businesses can outpace large enterprises. Disruptive innovation, described by Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen, is a process where a smaller company with fewer resources can successfully challenge well-established organizations. While more prominent firms focus on improving existing products and meeting demands, innovative newcomers could capitalize on overlooked customers. 

Creativity is the skill of the future

The need for creativity in the business world is only growing. Creativity is among the most valuable skills of the future, alongside related skills like agility and adaptability. Without creativity and finding ways to adapt to change, your business is at risk. Download Disrupt or Be Disrupted: How to Cultivate Creativity at Work workbook for a tactical guide on growing your employees’ creativity.