In a recent article, Tom Campbell from the KTN drew attention to a range of practices which are deployed by creative professionals in the creative sector, as well as in the wider economy. This is important for, as his piece noted, there are now almost as many people in creative jobs outside of the Creative Industries as there are in those sectors themselves – with 1.7 million employed in the creative industries and a total of 2.6 million in the ‘creative economy’ as a whole (the Creative Economy in this context refers to everyone who has some kind of creative employment).
Despite the scale of creative employment across a number of different sectors (from music teachers to designers in the car industry), our perception is that their significance in driving innovation across the economy is yet to be fully recognised. So what is it that the creative industries – or more accurately, creative people and businesses – can bring to the wider economy? Tom’s article made the case for what he referred to as the Eight Great Creative Practices – explicitly echoing the Government’s affirmation of the Eight Great Technologies. Covering disciplines such as performance, craftsmanship, curation and storytelling, the list attempted to establish a set of practices associated with creative professionals, but which can add value in a wide range of commercial environments.
The eight great creative practices is a useful provocation, but on the basis of reflection and a recent workshop discussion, it might be helpful to focus on more over-arching qualities, those distinctive characteristics that underpin creative practices, skillsets and methodologies. Here then, in the spirit of continuing the debate, are my suggested ‘eight great creative attributes’:
- Abstraction: the ability to create ‘distance’ between contemporary reality and imagined or alternative futures. Not just to test product ideas, but to take on inherently uncertain, or even taboo, issues
- Divergent thinking: the ability to be always open to new ideas and to encourage that openness in others.
- Ambiguity: keeping two opposing ideas in one’s head at the same time, and using that to imagine different/opposed scenarios or options
- Metaphor: the ability to imagine, envisage and deal with cognitive challenges and problems, not just physical ones.
- Mediation: working across different disciplines – facilitating translation of contrasting or alien ideas
- Interactivity: working collaboratively with a diverse range of practitioners to generate and test new ideas
- Risk-taking: understanding the need to experiment and take on risk, and to manage risk effectively within commercial constraints
- Resilience: the strength and tenacity to constantly iterate, learn from failures and to re-invent.