Why we struggle to be creative

ChildPaintedFaceSome years ago, creativity researcher Dr. George Land started to assess children on the degree of creativity (creative genius) they possessed. He tested children at five-year intervals, and these were his findings:

  • At 3-5 years of age, 98% of children were rated as creative geniuses
  • At 8-10 years of age, 32% of children rated as creative geniuses
  • At 13-15 years of age only 10% were so rated
  • And by the age of 25 and above, only 2% of them rated as creative geniuses

The reason for this is believed to be that as human beings, we are raised to conform to a wide range of norms, whereas young children are permitted much more freedom.

While this may not be considered a critical issue for the majority of businesses who aren’t involved in the design or creative industries, it turns out there are other issues to consider in these industries. A study of young professionals in the creative fields published last week by iStock (part of Getty Images), showed some alarming – and unexpected findings. Of the 404 UK and US-based creative professionals, ranging from art directors to graphic designers, involved in the research:

  • 48% believe levels of creativity in their industry have stagnated or declined in the last decade
  • 23% spend less than two hours of their day doing “creative” work, according to the study’s findings
  • 63% say they do not have the time they need for “creative reflection and inspiration”

It was also interesting to note that only 34% rated the workplace as one of their top three locations for creativity.

If our creative professionals are struggling to produce inventive and effective solutions in an increasingly stressful work environment, what about other industries when we need to be creative? It’s interesting that the ‘over 25’ group identified by George Land are responsible for the running of large parts of our businesses. What about those few times in a year when a there is a real need for creative thinking to open up a new opportunity or to solve a difficult problem? These are the times when our over 25’s need to step up to the plate and create – not conform.

But are they able to achieve it. If the creative professionals are struggling to achieve the required levels of creativity, what are we doing to assist our managers in this area?

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