In a study of 5,000 adults in the US, UK, Germany, France, and Japan conducted by Adobe about creativity, they came up with some interesting findings. To begin with, they asked every participant if they felt creativity was valuable to society and two-thirds of the respondents said “yes.” Perhaps even more significantly, 80% of them felt that unlocking creativity was critical to economic growth.

However, only one in four people today believe that they’re living up to their creative potential, even though the majority of people say that living up to their creative potential is important to them.

The argument that creativity and innovation is important to economic growth, however, is not new. In a 2004 Harvard Business Review article, the author described what they called America’s looming creativity crisis. The article argued that in order to attract valuable workforce talent, they needed to develop its creative sector, “because wherever creativity goes—and, by extension, wherever talent goes—innovation and economic growth are sure to follow.”

However, in an analysis of metropolitan data in that same article:

“the percentage of workers in the creative classes in Toronto (36.4%), Montreal (35.0%), and Vancouver (35.2%) rival those in the leading American regions. […] the percentages do shed light on which cities are fostering creative cultures and will, therefore, be attractive to more creative types in the future.”

There could be a number of reasons why there aren’t more creative workers. In Adobe’s study, 75% of respondents said that they were encouraged to be productive rather than creative at work. But as someone who works in the field of idea management software, I can tell you that creativity is integral to every industry, every organization… possibly more so than productivity. Employees that aren’t fulfilling their creative potential are going to be a reason that their employer gets left behind, as well.

75% of respondents said that they were encouraged to be productive rather than creative at work.

Sometimes, lack of workplace creativity is a cultural problem, sometimes it is a problem of poor leadership, sometimes it’s because there’s a lack of training. However, sometimes it is simply that employees have forgotten ways to enhance their own creativity… even easy things like how taking a walk increases creative output.

IdeaScale researched 15 easy ways that might help those employees grease their creative wheels and start coming up with new ideas and distilled them into this infographic. But feel free to share other ways that we can help employees tap into their creativity and problem solving.

By Rob Hoehn

About the author

Rob Hoehn is the co-founder and CEO of IdeaScale: the largest open innovation software platform in the world. Hoehn launched crowdsourcing software as part of the open government initiative and IdeaScale’s robust portfolio now includes many other industry notables, such as EA Sports, NBC, NASA, Xerox and many others. Prior to IdeaScale, Hoehn was Vice President of Client Services at Survey Analytics.

Photo credit: businessman drawing colorful business ideas from Shutterstock