Creativity: what's the point?

When I first set out to write this blog, I didn’t know the answer. I’ve spent my entire career being creative and have known for my whole life that creativity is my calling. And yet, as I consider my place in the professional world, the clients I work with and the industries I’ve become so passionate about, I still struggle to pinpoint how creativity plays a role in it all. Why should anyone care about being creative? If it doesn’t have a point, does it have a purpose?

Deep thoughts. Big questions. Where do I start?

I began with the ol’ Google machine. I searched and searched… “Why is creativity important?” “What is the value of creativity?” “What is the meaning of life?” “What is creativity?”

I think that last question is the best place to start. Let’s define what we’re looking at and then narrow our focus. Creativity can mean so many things, and in my experience, we tend to diminish its value by using it to describe basic tactical outputs. The best definition I came across was from LinkedIn’s Stefan Mumaw: “Creativity is problem-solving with relevance and novelty.”

Problem-solving with relevance and novelty.

I especially like Mumaw’s definition because it gives creativity purpose and helps distance the concept from its ties to the world of art and visual communications. By his definition, anyone in any field can apply creativity to solve whatever challenges they may face. But let’s break it down a bit further, starting with relevance.

Relevance in this case means we’re solving the literal problem—it’s scientific. If your challenge is increasing sales, then your creative solution must do just that. If you’re trying to increase brand awareness, your creative solution must elevate and foster recognition. Relevance is the part of creativity that informs purpose. But relevant creativity lacks something important…

Novelty. Are you being original? Is the solution to your challenge something that will excite or surprise your audience? Is it something new? Is it unexpected? Is it artistic? Novelty is the creative ingredient that most people find intimidating. Not only is it difficult to think outside of your comfort zones, but doing, trying or even suggesting something new takes courage. Why?

Because creativity is subjective in nature—your idea of a winning concept may not be shared by stakeholders. However, there are many ways novelty can hit the mark, so this fear of judgement should not be a barrier to creativity.

So, with creativity being a science (relevance) and an art (novelty), let’s take a look at what this might mean for you.

Creativity is Everyone’s Business

As a company, keeping creativity top of mind—relevance and novelty—will not only create opportunities to address and solve business challenges, but it’s also a key to innovation. Without being open-minded to new ideas, you’re destined to do things the same way, and probably see the same results.

I think it’s safe to say that almost every company puts a high value on innovation, but far fewer realize the crucial role creativity has in driving it. Whether it’s a marketing campaign to increase sales, a product redesign to meet customer needs or new ways to reach and support your own employees, creative thinking is the opportunity that allows you to maximize an impact.

Don’t forget how creativity is cultivated—it doesn’t exist without the brilliant minds and ideas of the employees and partners you work with. Companies that build a culture that values, supports and encourages creativity are paving the path for their own success.

So, while it may seem like a daunting concept, creativity is incredibly important. And rest assured—being creative isn’t genetic—it’s a skill like any other that must be practiced and nurtured.

This month, we will dig deeper into these topics, making it easier to adjust your mindset to be in “creative” mode and connect creativity to your goals and objectives.