For the past few articles we've been discussing the challenges that the 2020 human resources and talent crisis will bring to the labor market, both for the employers and the employees. Meanwhile, you're asking yourselves:
The explanation is a fairly simple one. Man is a resource, just as any other company resource. When the talent availability drops, some skills become the key differentiators in hiring a new person in the company. According to recent studies, 5 years from now, more than a third (35%) of the skills that are considered essential for the workplace will change. By 2020, The Forth Industrial Revolution1 will have brought us advanced robotics and autonomous transport, artificial intelligence and machine learning, advanced materials, biotechnology and genomics. In such an advanced market, with such complex products and services on the line, human creativity will become crucial because, at the end of the day, we will just have to "re-invent the wheel". Those who will be able to develop this skill will probably become the best paid employees, the most appreciated employers or the most successful entrepreneurs. The results of the global report, drafted by the World Economic Forum, clearly reveal the way the human skill set will have to evolve in order to successfully deal with the accelerated technological development.2
So here's a comparison of the top 10 skills needed in 2020 vs 2015:
After a brief analysis of the 2020 vs. 2015 skill set comparison, it is obvious how important creativity will become in the next years. The next question that probably "haunts" you, especially those of you who feel that they are in a creative standstill is:
The answer to this question can only be given and understood if we take a short journey into the human brain. It's neither divine inspiration, nor the "muse" from the second floor and it's certainly not the way you wake up in the morning. The source of human creativity stands in the millions of neurological connections which take place at the synapses level. Specifically, creativity springs from the synergy of our memory (the place where knowledge, information, facts and experience come together) with the two types of thinking which govern us (convergent and divergent thinking), creating, what we call, and the state of "flow".3
There are factors which influence and stop us from reaching this state, from the toxic work environment, sprinkled with bossy managers, to cynical or negative organisational cultures. All of these are affecting us, consciously and unconsciously, at an emotional level and, as a result, our brain becomes hyper-focused on potential threats instead of concentrating on the creative process.
The good news is that we can reset the entire cognitive system and we can start the next day with the right attitude and state of mind to generate great ideas and to live the "Eureka !" moment. Here are some simple tips that, if applied, can help "heal" your brain. They will also make the chances of having a creative moment increase significantly: 4
1. Sleep, Food and Sports. Recent studies have confirmed that an adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep a night so that the brain is completely rested. After any physical exercise, the brain secretes growth hormones and dopamine, this in turn stimulating neural activity and helping us reach the psychological state of "flow".
2. Break your most destructive, focus-killing habits. A popular example is the habit of spending a large portion of your day checking your e-mail or your phone. While performing a task, it is highly advised to keep away from any sort of distractions. "Flow" and creativity require prolonged concentration.
3. Reflection and meditation. Reflective-meditative practices are extremely useful in dealing with stress and enhancing cognitive functions. At the end of the day, these will give you the ability to "notice what is going on as it arises and to pause before you respond" (Dan Goleman)
4. Stop fretting about your deficiencies and failures. Fear of mistake is one of the biggest obstacles in the creative process.
5. Focus on what makes you happy at work. The positive emotions generated when you feel connected to your personal and organizational purpose — what really matters about what you do — will help you stay grounded and creative, even when things are tough.
It is obvious that there is no universal solution for being creative but, in time, this skill will become one of the very few human traits that machines and robots will not be able to replicate.
Defining creativity is something personal, so is the decision to develop this skill or not.
World Economic Forum (Jan 2016), The Fourth Industrial Revolution: what it means, how to respond ↩
World Economic Forum (Jan 2016), Future of Jobs Report ↩
Deanne and Gary Gute (July 2015), Creative Life Research Center, University of Northern Iowa. How creativity works in the brain - Report ↩
Annie McKee (Dec 2015), Harvard Business Review, How to free your innate creativity ↩
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