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America needs to make creativity a mass concept, fast

September 8, 2011

There was further proof of America’s decline in the recent Global Competitiveness Report from the World Economic Forum, it showed America slipping from 4th to 5th in the world.

If America is looking to re-invent itself on the global stage and it’s clear that ingenuity and creativity will be the way that the country can continue to maintain relevance in a shifting global landscape.

However, new research coming out of Cornell suggests what our biggest stumbling block could be ourselves, it seems that humans have a tough time accepting creative ideas.

Some highlights from the Cornell paper.

1. “Beyond merely having a preference for the status quo or familiar ideas our results suggest that people have ambivalent feelings towards creativity.”

2. “If people hold an implicit bias against creativity, then we cannot assume that organizations, institutions or even scientific endeavors will desire and recognize creative ideas even when they explicitly state they want them.”

3. “When journals extol creative research, universities train scientists to promote creative solutions, R&D companies commend the development of new products, pharmaceutical companies praise creative medical breakthroughs, they may do so in ways that promote uncertainty by requiring gate-keepers to identify the single “best” and most “accurate” idea thereby creating an unacknowledged aversion to creativity.

4. “In addition, our results suggest that if people have difficulty gaining acceptance for creative ideas especially when more practical and unoriginal options are readily available, the field of creativity may need to shift its current focus from identifying how to generate more creative ideas to identifying how to help innovative institutions recognize and accept creativity.”

To thrive on the global stage, America needs to champion creativity and creative people, wherever and however it can.

Creativity needs to be celebrated, rewarded and taught.

It shouldn’t be seen as a fringe activity or an activity undertaken by a group of creative artists, but instead a mandate for everyone at school, college and the workplace to take responsibility for and be rewarded according to their creative contribution.

Maybe creativity has been just too precious and treated too much as a rare object, so people find it tough to deal with, but if instead, it was all around us and woven into the fabric of our lives, perhaps we would be more adept to deal with it.

It seems that creativity isn’t just a nice to have for America, but now a fundamental need and requirement.

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