The Value of Creativity

Presentation for MED 560 by Zachary Ferguson

Creativity: The answer to the challenge of globalization?

In our highly competitive global economy, companies constantly have to respond to unforeseen changes and demands. Be it a drastic shift in the price of oil or a competitor launching a new product, our increasingly complex economy requires a workforce that can imagine possibilities and design new products and strategies for services. These challenges require being able to navigate rapid changes by thinking strategically about possibilities and imagining a wide variety of alternatives when presented with a problem.

One key to being successful in this context is an awareness of cultural difference and fluency in new digital technologies. Equally important is the ability to think creatively, to face ambiguous or unanswered challenges with perseverance (Fletcher, 2011). A creative workforce will be the answer to the challenges posed by globalization.

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Global Companies Depend on a Dynamic, Creative Workforce

Companies like Apple and Google both place a premium on worker creativity through programs like re-designing their workplace architecture to emphasize collaboration and make the workplace both fun and engaging. This environment allows people to have the freedom to explore possibilities. Part of what allows for creativity in these contexts is the ability to challenge or re-envision a new process or way of doing things.

The widely-celebrated Design Firm IDEO is perhaps the best example of what a the lies in store for our global economy. Rather than producing a fixed product and selling it to the public, their firm takes what it calls a "human-centered, design-based approach" to helping both public and private sector organizations innovate, including school districts. (See IDEO founder David Kelley's TED Talk about "Creative Confidence" below)

Their concept of "design-thinking," which requires their company to view problems in the following terms: Viability (Will it work based on the needs posed by the problem?), Desirability (Is the proposed idea a solution that we believe is worthwhile?), and Feasibility (Is the proposed solution possible? If not, what steps must be taken to make it so?) This process requires more than just aggregating data, it requires a willingness to think about possibilities and alternatives. At root, this process is about fostering creativity. This is process or approach to problem-solving that teachers could apply in their classrooms to foster student creativity. ("Ideo: About Ideo", 2015).

Cognitive Traits of the Creative

Some of the key cognitive aspects of creativity, as identified by University of Indiana researcher are: flexibility in the face of a challenge and a willingness, independence in judgement, easily cope with novelty and avoid entrenched ideas or processes, display an aptitude for identifying new problems that need to be solved. These are precisely the kinds of students we as educators want to prepare for the future.

Our increasingly global, interconnected world need people with these traits who can look past how things have been done and imagine how things could or should be in the future. Like a chess player thinking multiple turns ahead as she waits for her opponent to move, creative individuals are able to look forward at opportunities (Instructional Strategies for Thinking, Motivation, and Collaboration, 2003).

Creativity Consultant: Zachary Ferguson

"The Creative Class" and the Classroom of the Future

As economic and urban studies theorist Richard Florida has argued, our economy is increasingly driven by what he calls the creative class, the "fast-growing, highly educated, and well-paid segment of the workforce [that] do a wide variety of work in a wide variety of industries---from technology to entertainment, journalism to finance, high-end manufacturing to the arts. They do not consciously think of themselves as a class. They share a common ethos that values creativity, individuality, difference, and merit." (Florida, 2002)

Florida's theory has profound implications for our country and for our system of education. As teachers, we need to shift our focus from teacher-centered instruction to a more open, student approach. Designing lessons that are collaborative rather than merely cooperative, that is student-directed rather than merely teacher-directed and that helps students hone the necessary skills for the future.

Creativity and Education

As education researcher Ken Robinson reminds us in his recent TED Talk, children begin their education with the curiosity and willingness to explore and try new things, but by the time they are finished their secondary education, they have lost much of this plasticity.

Robinson’s target here is specifically standardized testing and the often rigidity of our education systems globally. (Robinson, 2006)

With an increasingly globally connected world, we as educators need to structure our classroom in ways that our students’ creative abilities are allowed to flourish, not cast aside in favor of fixed or rigid processes, like standardized testing.

Works Cited

Below the Fold: Promoting Creativity in the Workplace; What Apple, Amazon, and Google got right.. (2015). Retrieved from

Fletcher, T. S. (2011, Spring). Creative Thinking in Schools: Finding the "Just Right" Challenge for Students. Gifted Child Today, 34(2), 37-42. Retrieved from

IDEO: About IDEO. (2015). Retrieved from

Kelley, D. (2012, March). How to build your creative confidence [Video file]. Retrieved from TED website:

Novotney, A. (2015). American Psychological Association. Retrieved from

R546: Instructional Strategies for Thinking, Collaboration, and Motivation. (2003). Retrieved from

Robinson, K. (2006, February). How schools kill creativity [Video file]. Retrieved from TED website: