Two Recurring Themes from Research: Creativity and Storytelling

Researching national and global companies, we found that most executives believe that it is a necessity to have creativity in their work environments and creative employees who can offer new ideas, envision the “big-picture,” and create something from nothing. These visionary people think outside the box and have a wonderful capacity for communicating their thoughts clearly. Creatives are willing to take risks, to reason differently, and to look at problems from multiple angles. They are the engine behind most major breakthroughs and the source of extraordinary innovations. This is true whether the topic is non-profits, finance, human resources, product development, or film production. Many journalists and top executives are now saying creativity will be one of the most valuable qualities needed in all careers the future. However, if creativity is not fostered at an early age, it does not develop properly. When children are stigmatized for mistakes and not allowed to learn artistic subjects, their creative capacity is hindered, if not lost.

The second recurring theme is storytelling: the ability to communicate and tell a compelling story. This would seem obvious in film or television production. However, it is also relevant and even critical in business consulting, product development, and non-profit work. Essentially, everything we think or do involves a story. Being able to pitch a concept or sell an idea is based on storytelling, because storytelling is a very effective way to communicate. Stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Stories inspire, captivate, and connect us emotionally. Every idea comes from a story: a product has a story, a CEO’s vision for the future has a story, and a company’s image tells a story. Nevertheless, very few have mastered this creative art form, because it is not taught in most schools.

Educator Roger Schank stated, “I am horrified by what schools are doing to children. From elementary to college, educational systems drive the love of learning out of kids. They produce students who seem smart because they receive top grades and honors but actually are in learning’s neutral gear. Some grow up and never find their true calling. While they may become adept at working hard and memorizing facts, they never develop a passion for a subject or follow their own interest in a topic. Just as alarming, these top students deny themselves the pleasure of play and don’t know how to have fun with their schoolwork.” Coloring Outside the Lines.