Get creative. 

Dream big.

These all-too-familiar phrases have populated countless emails, pep talks, and meetings, and if you’re like us, they’ve probably started to feel a little stale, or worse—overwhelming. There’s little question about the importance of creativity in the big-picture-grand-scheme-of-things view of the world, but what does that actually mean for you? 

How do we think creatively about creativity?

Our fearless leader, Anna, recently went on a podcast to talk about how her understanding of creativity has grown and developed over years of working in a creative field. You should check it out when you’ve got a few minutes, but in the meantime, we wanted to share some more of our collective insights into the importance of creativity.

importance of creativity

Creativity ≠Artistry

This first one is a biggie. We live in a world where everybody wants to be an artist. It’s a worthwhile ambition, but the problem is that we can’t all be artists. If you’ve set up artistry as a big part of your identity, that can be a huge blow.  

It can be difficult to know how to foster creativity in the workplace because we’ve made creativity into something simplistic by turning it into an identity, when it’s probably closer to a skill.

In fact, it might be better to reconceptualize creativity as creativities. They are mediums for navigating the world, and we all have different strengths, whether that is something artistic like painting or an analytic creativity like being able to quickly see patterns in excel sheets. 

If you fall into the second category, we envy you.

importance of creativity

Creativity is Ultimately Relational

Creativity could also be thought of as constant relational management. That sounds intense, but think about it—Whether we are trying to find a way to explain photosynthesis to first graders or coming up with a low-stress way to parallel park (let us know when you do), we are constantly finding ways to improve our relationship to the world. 

It’s not a mythological act of genius. It’s just part of what it means to be human.

In the workspace, our creativity shows by how well we communicate with others. If you have a good idea and nobody understands it, then it’s not a good idea. 

Creativity is about looking at a relationship, whether that’s between us and a friend, a colleague, or the world, and looking for opportunities to improve that relationship. It’s not revealed in earth-shattering actions as much as the tiny, continuous decisions we make on a day-to-day basis.

importance of creativity

The Importance of Creativity: A Trained Skill

As a follow-up to the previous point, we’re always honing our creative skills, even if we don’t think of them in those terms. How many times have you spoken to a loved one and said something dumb in search of the right word? How many times have you continued to look for the right word? 

Even if you’re still thinking, “I’m not creative at all,” think about ways you have worked to make your life easier for yourself and the people you care about. Maybe you’ve always misplaced your keys, so you started putting them in a cup by the door. Maybe you regularly burn your mouth on coffee, so you’ve started drinking it with cream. If we think about how and why we live the way we do, it’s easy to identify these mundane creativities and apply them to new contexts.

Whether we’re in the workplace or at home, we can cultivate our own creativities and develop team creativity by repeated attempts to put them to use. That means inviting failure and wasted time into our lives. Nobody is perfect at what they do (but if you are, again, reach out to us and tell us your secrets), and the way to improve your skills is to experiment with their application.  

How Do We Develop the Importance of Creativity as a Team?

If creativity is a universal, trained skill with specific applications (and we think it is), there’s good news—It’s possible to learn how to develop team creativity. There’s no perfect way to do it, and it’ll look different for everyone, but we have a few ideas.

First, be willing to waste time on creativity. Harvard Business Review recently pointed out that we often misconstrue productivity as evidence of creativity, when in reality, it can actually undermine it. Reframe your view of failure so that you can see new kinds of success. Be willing to hit a few cars until you perfect that parallel park (Don’t actually do that. We might be liable). 

Second, we encourage you to reflect on how creativity functions relationally by considering the following questions:

1.     What skills or creativities do you see in co-workers that aren’t celebrated? 

2.     How can you help your peers develop the creativities that they have self-identified?

3.     What habits can you put in place to practice your creativities with others? 

Third and finally, check out the podcast mentioned above, and let us know your thoughts. If you have your own insights into the importance of creativity, we’d love to hear them!