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Posted by Tina Catling 29 November 2017 Innovation Consultancy

The tendency to presume that creativity is someone else’s job is long entrenched in organisational cultures. This is fed by our presumption that only “creative people” have the capacity be creative and that those more accustomed to science, data or mathematical roles are better suited to staying within their field.

Yet contrary to these longstanding beliefs, in actual fact the responsibility for fostering a creative society cannot be placed upon one individual or type of organisation, but rather in our increasingly interconnected world but be a task undertaken by people from all walks of life across all disciplines.

Exploring the role of multiple organisations that are not automatically thought of as being creative can provide useful insights for how this democratisation of the creative process can become entrenched in place of our currently divided approach to roles and responsibilities. 


Although usually acknowledged as powerhouses of research, development and the production of knowledge, universities can and should in fact be spaces that encourage creativity as a skill both to be developed and deployed in the broader world of employment.

At the London book launch of The Runaway Species: How Human Creativity Remakes the World by Anthony Brandt and David Eagleman, the latter argued that humans are the only species which does creative things for the sake of being creative. He thus posed the question ‘how can we refine our educational systems to cultivate this property of human brains?’ 

Reporting on this book launch, Times Higher Education (THE) magazine sees the division of “creative” subjects from ”scientific” ones as a problem, preventing creative approaches to problem solving from evolving across all sectors. Brandt told THE that ‘all creativity emerges from prior experience, [therefore] the richer your storehouse of raw materials, the more abundant your ability to make new combinations.’

Suggesting that rather than simply asking students to reach the answer at the back of a given textbook, creating open-ended opportunities for research, trial and error explorations and interdisciplinary research is a more effective way of instilling creativity in students. Given that these students who will go on to form the new generation of innovators and problem solvers, the responsibility placed upon universities to foster creativity is no small matter. 


Impact Investing is defined as ‘investing that aims to generate specific beneficial social or environmental effects in addition to financial gain’ by Investopedia. As a subdivision of socially responsible investing, impact investing specifically focuses on investment in non-profits or enterprises that make a tangible benefit to the community in which they operate.  

For FastCompany, given the ever-pressing need to find creative solutions to some of the world’s biggest problems such as climate change, economic stagnation or humanitarian challenges like the prevention of famine and disease, the responsibility for fostering creativity must be incorporated into initiatives like impact investment.

Quoting founder of Upstart Co-Lab Laura Callanan, FastCompany points out that while huge sums of money are channelled into impact investment initiatives, a key voice missing from the discussion is that of creatives. Arguing that a bridge needs to be put in place to create collaborations between these two formerly separate worlds in order to reflect the increasingly interdisciplinary approach needed to solve pressing global problems, FastCompany sees those with money to invest as bearing some of the responsibility for encouraging creativity. 


Although this may seem like an obvious place to start in the search for creative responsibility, protecting the role of the creative is an important element in ensuring that this important skill set does not become lost in an age of increasing automation, a lack of funding for the arts and an ever continuing drive towards high-tech industries.

For The Drum, itself curator of The Drum Creative Awards which strives ‘to give creativity and design a platform to shine’, ‘creativity is out of vogue’ and investors and budget managers are quick to suggest that funds be redirected elsewhere. The Drum suggests that despite the ever-increasing calls for diversification and the challenges posed to inherently creative industries, marketers must continue to fight the corner of the creative industries and continue their role in fostering creativity.  

Claiming that ‘as an influencer we have a responsibility to fly the flag for creativity, to explain to our expanding readership why it makes a difference,’ The Drum sees itself as a bastion of creativity willing and able to share the burden of responsibility with other sectors, rather than see itself out-manoeuvred by them. Through collaborative initiatives and the continuation of platforms for celebrating creativity like the Awards, the future of creative responsibility can and indeed should be shared.

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