Creativity is a critical job skill, but it is apparently an increasingly scarce resource. According to studies, fully 61% of leaders don’t believe their companies are creative enough. In addition, in a recent study, 77% of people say they believe creativity is a critical job skill for the 21st century, but 69% of people don’t believe they are living up to their creative potential.
While it is a scarce resource, creativity’s importance cannot be overstated. It is fuel for innovation which is in turn fuel for company growth. Creativity is, of course, the potential to create new ideas and the raw material of brainstorming, new thinking and ideation. Innovation, distinguished from creativity, is defined by the market and the extent to which action has been applied to creativity in a way that results in innovations people will adopt.
As a society, we face increasingly thorny problems. But, how will we solve them without crucial creativity and innovation skills?
Start with people
Great design, inspired by design thinking methodologies, starts with people and a deep understanding of the user experience. With a high level of empathy for what the user is experiencing and the problem they are trying to solve, companies can motivate creativity and innovation.
Empathy means understanding what’s important to people and understanding their struggles. Consider five examples of cool new innovations that address people, their needs and their challenges.
Human connection and communication.
Fundamental to our human experience is connection and idea exchange. Researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle have invented a cutting edge device that allows people to transmit thoughts to each other’s brains directly.
Community is critical.
People also seek community and togetherness. To solve urban problems of loneliness and resource availability, the Danish company CPH Containers is creating seaside communities through the use of shipping containers.
Quality of life.
Quality of life and freedom from pain are required for us to be our best. Researchers at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles have innovated a new pain management strategy in which patients wear VR googles (think: experience sunbathing or flying over Iceland) resulting in a 24% reduction in pain.
Meeting basic needs.
Basic needs fundamental to human survival can potentially be met in new ways using an innovative approach from Iron Ox in which food can be grown in a totally autonomous environment. The solution has significant implications for improving the global food supply.
Being part of the whole.
Humans need a connection to nature and to be part of our broader world. In addition, healthy ecological systems require a diversity of species. A new app pioneered by researchers at Michigan State University uses facial recognition to track endangered species.
Great new innovations start with a focus on people and an understanding of their needs, conditions and challenges. From these, leaders and companies can not only motivate creativity and innovation, but can also ensure new innovations have a positive impact on people and communities. That’s the power of empathy.