When Creativity And Innovation Disappears

There is a wide chasm that stands between being creative and innovative…and being able to lead and scale it.

Very few of us in education have not heard the declaration that rang out from Bronson and Merryman’s Newsweek article that we are facing a ‘Creativity Crisis’ on a national and international level, both in education and in society as a whole. They informed us that creativity had also been “identified as the number one leadership competency of the future.”  And yet, their article highlighted for us that since 1990 there has been a steady and serious decline in creativity, especially for children.

As mentioned in the Creative Leader Series, all around us we continue to hear the rallying cry for more creativity and more innovation – from the classroom to the boardroom.  

And yet…

We are struggling in how to answer that call, especially in education. The chasm is widening. A twenty-plus year decline in creativity and even innovation will not be overcome easily or quickly. However, this decline will continue unabated unless we begin to determine how to make strides to reverse this downward spiral.

Scaling creativity and innovation is going to be a monumental task.

To raise it from the abyss from which it has descended will require heavy lifting by all educators. It will necessitate determining what it looks like, what it sounds like, in our conversations, in our classrooms, in our professional development, in our leadership, and within our entire organization. Creativity and innovation is not something for a select few, it resides in each and every one of us at some level and tapping into the core of that thinking will be vital to moving education forward progressively in the future.

Re-engaging creativity and innovation will require some level of disruption across the entirety of the educational landscape.

It will require engaging new learnings and huge mindshifts in the processes, structures and approaches that we have previously applied to moving our educational institutions forward. It will require educators at all levels to deconstruct previous mindsets towards incorporating new learnings and skill-sets that will allow us to lead creativity and innovation forward at scale.

Otherwise, we will continue to watch the slow, steady decline and disappearance of creativity and innovation.

Unless we determine to do different, we will fail to scale it and we will fail to move it beyond the small pockets. It requires leaders who can prepare the path forward and begin to engage those leadership learnings and skill-sets that allow creativity and innovation to take root and flourish, at both an individual and an organizational level.

It will take both incremental and radical steps.

Both are necessary if we are going to ready our adults to prepare our children for this new change world. To prepare our children for a new type of professional readiness. But there is no recourse, this is work we have to do. Society is speaking out to us in both subtle and very loud ways. Too often we watch hundreds and hundreds of people apply for lower skilled jobs, while higher-paying, higher-skilled jobs remain unfilled. Skills are changing. Jobs are changing. And it necessitates looking at how we are preparing our children for these huge shifts and changes that are happening across our society.

Too often we are preparing our students for today, when we need to prepare them for tomorrow.

This will take some abrupt and difficult mindshifts, but shifts that we can and must make for the future of our children. However, be very clear, there is no silver bullets or quick cures, this is going to take some heavy lifting.

If we want our children to be more career ready – to be more creative, innovative and entrepreneurial – we must begin to determine what that looks like in our schools and in society.

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