Most of us consider ourselves relatively creative. We may figure out new ways to solve problems. We may think of a new tagline for a company. We may develop new software. Or we may just find a better way to answer the phone. But many people who think of themselves as creative may not be getting the chance to use that creativity in their jobs.
A new survey released by the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority in Virginia, showed that while 88 percent of people say they have what they’d call theirs a creative personality, only 75 percent of people said their employers valued their creativity and only 63 percent actually considered their job a creative position.
The survey was released in advance of the 2007 National Conference on the Creative Economy.
The difference between the 88 percent of people who consider themselves creative and the 63 precent that say they use their creativity in their job has been coined the “Creative Gap” by the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority and Rise of the Creative Class author, Richard Florida.
Most CEOs I talk to say, “The difference is our people,” or “We have the best people,” or “Our people are our strength.” But this gap shows that some CEOs are not acting to get the most out of their people. They’re not taking advantage of the creativity most people think they have. So how can you change that in your company?
Jim Collins, in his book Good to Great, says that one of the keys to becoming a great company is to “put the right people in the right seats on the bus.” Maybe you have your most creative problem solver in a marketing role. Or maybe the person with the best graphic mind is answering your phones. Maybe your finance director is the best business process person in the industry. They may not have the most experience, but they may the people – your secret weapons – that make your company great. And they may feel more fulfilled and more loyal to you for having the opportunity to use their creativity.
In today’s creative economy, we need to focus a little more on minding the creativity gap.