Four Reasons Creativity is the Most Important Skill You Can Have in the New Economy

In his book, The Rise of the Creative Class, Richard Florida transformed the way we talk about being creative when he proposed a divide between the Creative Class (those whose jobs are based in creative, mental labor) and the Service Class (those whose work is task-based and requires little-to-no complex thinking). Although both groups might be gainfully employed at the present, he suggested that it will be the former who will have a competitive advantage in our new, information- and technology-based 21st century economy. Although some of Florida’s theories haven’t stood the test of time, researchers still believe that advancements in Artificial Intelligence and technology are on pace to erode human jobs: the McKinsey Global Institute published a recent report that suggested that between 400 and 800 million people may be displaced by tech in the next twelve years.

Jobs that require complex behavior and innovative thinking though, are less likely to be replaced than others. Why? Because the ability to think creatively—to come up with novel ideas, concepts, and solutions—is something that even the most advanced technology cannot fully replicate. No matter what industry you are in, being able to think innovatively is likely to become more and more critical to your success. Still not convinced? We’ve rounded up four great reasons why we believe creativity is the most important skill to have in the 21st century economy.

 Your ability to dream up creative solutions is your best professional asset ( image source )

Your ability to dream up creative solutions is your best professional asset (image source)

Creativity Fosters Innovation

Innovation is at the cornerstone of today’s economy. We live in a world that is shaped by all kinds of ideas that seemed unrealistic only a few years ago; from fiber-optic cables to advanced biomedical technology, to 3-D printing, the variety of the most successful inventions are vast -- but they are all the product of complex creative thinking. In an informational economy often defined by continual improvement, disruption, and advancement, the ability to come up with novel products and solution-oriented ideas is a critical skill for any leader to cultivate—no matter their sector.

 A little security is a good thing ( image source )

A little security is a good thing (image source)

Creativity Means Job Security

Like we touched on above, Automation and Artificial Intelligence are on track to replace a significant number of human jobs, but they haven’t made as many inroads in sectors where creativity is paramount. Though McKinsey has dire news for many sectors in the U.S. economy, suggesting that “by 2030, one-third of the workforce in the US may need to find work in new occupations, a transition that will be very challenging,” they also note the bright spots where tech is less likely to succeed. The jobs that will “thrive in the new economy” according to the report?  “those that rely on human skills that machines can’t emulate…empathy and creativity.”

Not only will creativity help you stay competitive against machines, it will also mean you are  less likely to be replaced by other humans, too. An ability to take on new challenges, conjure new ideas and solve complex problems will make you a valuable, hard-to-replace colleague, no matter what sector you work in.

 Being more creative also means being more resilient ( image source )

Being more creative also means being more resilient (image source)

Creativity Breeds Adaptability

Life today looks hardly anything like like 20 years ago, and we can expect even more change ahead. Even if your current job doesn’t require a tremendous amount of creativity, problem-solving or innovation, it’s a skill that will serve you in the future. Why? Those skills are directly linked to the ability to be adaptive. Whatever your next chapter holds, if you develop your creativity now, you’ll be more likely to respond successfully to unexpected changes ahead.

 Your creativity will help your company grow in new ways ( image source )

Your creativity will help your company grow in new ways (image source)

Organizational Success Rests on Creativity

According to a recent White Paper by Forrester Consulting, “eighty-two percent of executives surveyed...agree that companies benefit from creativity” and believe that it leads to “increased revenues and greater market share.” They suggest that a significant majority (fifty-eight percent) of respondents set goals around creative outcomes, and that almost half (forty-eight percent) claim to fund new ideas spun out of creative brainstorming, too.

As businesses look to boost innovation in order to keep themselves competitive, they will continue to seek out the kinds of creative individuals who can help them stay relevant. The more you are able to develop and draw from your creative thinking skills the more competitive you - and the organizations you serve - will be over the long term.


Want to do more to foster your own creativity? Skillshare has hundreds of classes on how to boost your creative thinking skills in business, art, and design.