Skills of the Future: The Best Expert Advice on Creativity

Woman in black dress standing in business office with iPad in her hand watching out of the window over downtown Hong Kong

By 2020, creativity will be one of the top 3 skills anyone who wants to be successful in the economy of the future will need, according to the Future of Jobs report. We looked for the best expert advice on creativity – and found it.

When the World Economic Forum released its Future of Jobs report in Davos, one specific image jumped out:

The image listing the Top 10 skills business leaders, managers and anyone who wants to thrive in the industries of the future will need. Here it is:

World Economic Forum: Top 10 Skills for the Future

Complex problem solving, critical thinking, managing people and complex change: we have written loads of articles on those important qualities and skills (You can take a peek at our best-read articles of 2015 here), and shared our own experience.

But not on creativity – and wrongly so. Creativity jumps up from tenth (2015) to third (2020) in the ‘Skills of the Future’ list. Creativity is not just a nice-to-have, a source of inspiration visiting the lucky few. It’s a skill we’ll all need more of if we want to stand out in a workplace filled with robots, and find innovative answers to increasingly complex business questions.

So we looked for solid creativity advice, and turned to the best experts we could find: American writer Elizabeth Gilbert and Dutch designer and entrepreneur Daan Roosegaarde. Both spent their entire lives being creative. Both built a successful business (see here, and here). Both manage to inspire people worldwide: Gilbert with her bestsellers Big Magic, Creative Living Beyond Fear and Eat Pray Love, Roosegaarde with cool projects like a smog filtering tower and smart highways, amongst others.

What did their creative journeys teach them? What are their insights and best tips?

Creativity Tips from Elizabeth Gilbert (@GilbertLiz):
Stimulate your curiosity

Gilbert: ‘I believe that curiosity is the secret. Curiosity is the truth and the way of creative living. Curiosity is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end. Furthermore, curiosity is accessible to everyone. Passion can seem intimidatingly out of reach at times – a distant tower of flame, accessible only to geniuses. But curiosity is a milder, quieter, more welcoming, and more democratic entity. The stakes of curiosity are also far lower than the stakes of passion. Passion makes you get divorced and sell all your possessions and shave your head and move to Nepal. Curiosity doesn’t ask nearly so much of you. In fact, curiosity only ever asks one simple question: “Is there anything you’re interested in?”

“Creative living is living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.” Elizabeth Gilbert

Forget about perfect, just start

Gilbert: ‘Creativity starts by forgetting about perfect. We don’t have time for perfect. In any event, perfection is unachievable. Perfection stops people from completing their work, yes – but even worse, it often stops people from beginning their work… I think perfection is often a high-end, haute couture version of fear.’


Recommended reading:


Creativity Tips from Daan Roosegaarde (@SRoosegaarde):
Turn your idea into reality by playing ping pong, not bowling

Roosegaarde: ‘There are two ways to turn an idea into reality. You can play bowling, or you can play ping pong. The old way, at least that is what I think, is bowling. You have that ball in your hand and it’s so big, it is so heavy, it shines so beautifully. Then you throw that bowling ball and pray it will hit target.

I no longer believe this is a good way to create and innovate. I believe in playing ping pong: you take a tiny little ball, not expensive, and there you go: poek poek poek poek … and you create something together. And THAT is nice, this is how I create, this is how I learn.

Don’t push away people criticizing your ideas, but try pulling them aboard

Roosegaarde: ‘Dare to act, even when people tell you: “That’s not possible”, or: “What you have drawn is not allowed, it is against the rules.” You will always meet resistance.   I generally try to involve people criticizing my ideas. I try pulling them aboard. If that proves to be impossible, here is my advice: ignore them. And just get to work.’

‘Creativity will be our most important export product.’ Daan Roosegaarde

‘Most of the breakthrough ideas come from people in their 20s,’ Bill Gates recently said when he was quizzed on innovation.

So what if your son and prospective scientist (like mine is) spends many hours acting, playing music and exploring unfamiliar cultures – when he could in fact be studying?

You guessed it. Encourage him (or her). To be successful in the economy of the future, creativity is key.

Where do you find creative inspiration? How do you turn ideas into innovative results? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Source and more tips from Liz and Daan:

Elizabeth Gilbert in her book ‘Big Magic, Creative Living Beyond Fear’ (2015), Daan Roosegaarde in College Tour, Liz Gilbert TED talks and Daan Roosegaarde TED talks.

You can read the full Future of Jobs report here.

Leadership Expert Series Logo in green with worldmap and compassThis article is part of our ‘Skills of the future’ Expert Series in which we share valuable insights, pointers and lessons from a list of business leaders, experts and role models selected by Hanneke Siebelink. Find previous Expert Series articles here.

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Photo: Shutterstock.com


Hanneke SiebelinkHanneke is Research Partner and Writer at HRS Business Transformation Services, and author of several books. Her current research focuses on how leaders build successful organizations by increasing the quality and effectiveness of collaboration across companies, functions, and cultures. She is particularly interested in China and East-West relations and is learning Mandarin Chinese. Find out more about Hanneke and HRS services. If you would like to invite us to your organization, contact us here.

One Comment on “Skills of the Future: The Best Expert Advice on Creativity

  1. Pingback: Monday Morning Moment – Creativity in Community – the Skill of the Future | Blog – Deb Mills

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