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Opinion: Is creativity the only remaining currency?

Written by Matt Johnson

A quick search of “Define Creativity” returns “the use of imagination or original ideas to create something; inventiveness”. You may also link it to innovation, lateral thinking, thinking outside the box and many more terms that mean a similar thing.

But why am I writing about it?

Well, I think it’s one of the most important skills in the modern workplace. And I’m not the only one. Indeed, WeWork, Forbes and LinkedIn have all written about its importance.

When people take about employability and the soft skills that go along with that, we tend to focus on the likes of communication, time management and teamwork. Creativity was seen as more of a hard skill, linked to the creative industry.

But the tide is turning. Creativity is, in my opinion, becoming a core skill everybody in the workplace will need in the years to come.

Why is creativity so important?

First off, there’s the competitive advantage it creates. This is probably the most obvious benefit but, by being creative, individuals and organisations can create opportunities to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Ikea’s flat-pack furniture, Apple’s touchscreen interface and Tesla’s focus on electric vehicle design and engineering have all led to these respective brands capturing a core part of their market.

Another area that creativity will play an important role, which we’ve written about before, is in the growing artificial intelligence landscape. With the rise of AI tools such as Chat GPT, functional, output-based tasks may be at threat. But, the differentiating factor between tools such as Chat GPT and human beings is creativity.

Having seen the tagline “Romaine Calm” as part of an ASDA advert showcasing lettuces at the same time as the fruit and veg shortage, an inquisitive copywriter challenged Chat GPT. With the prompt “Write a funny 2-word newspaper advert for a supermarket that is reactive to a lettuce shortage in the UK” the AI tool produced “Lettuce who?”. Not quite on the same level as “Romaine Calm”.

One other reason creativity is so important is its ability to save money. By looking beyond the obvious, many brands have found creative and cost-effective ways to grow their business. Within the most recent Resonator newsletter, we featured two brands that have done just this. One of which is Triangl Swimwear which was looking to break into the US. The brand identified Kendal Jenner as a key influencer for the target market and wanted to get her to wear their product. Unfortunately, she was too expensive. So, instead, they did some research, identified 6 of Kendall’s closest friends and sent them the product. Lo and behold, Kendall reached out to the brand and requested some of the product herself. With a little bit of creative thinking, Triangl had its top target wearing its product.

Wrapping up

I hope it’s clear that creativity is the key to business success moving forward. As I’ve written about before, creativity doesn’t have to be revolutionary to make a significant impact. But, with everybody embracing it and embedding it into their work, we could see real gains.

That’s not to say the more traditional soft skills of communication, time management and teamwork are not important. If anything, I think they’re a given. This is about promoting the case for creativity to become one of those core soft skills.

In the meantime, creativity will be the currency by which we trade. Organisations and individuals that showcase creativity will have the edge. The challenge we face is how do you sell creativity without giving away your value upfront. Stories, such as those about BrewDog who reportedly stole marketing ideas from interviewees, obviously, worry people. But these are hurdles we have to overcome as creativity becomes the only currency left.


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