Creativity has always benefitted from constraints—but Canada cannot be one of them.

We identified creativity as the new “it” skill, essential for our country’s enduring prosperity. But how can we weave creativity into the very fabric of Canadian culture? Fortunately, our education system and business communities recognize the importance of this new skill, and are working to foster it.

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The Disruptors team spent months interviewing experts on the importance of creativity for a special two-part podcast. Here’s how our guests believe we can maximize our creative output as individuals, companies, and as a country.

Creativity starts at a young age, but needs nurturing along the way

“Students are amazingly creative and our job in the education system isn’t to make them more creative, it’s actually to keep their creativity alive,” said Josie Fung, executive director of Rotman’s I-Think. She pointed to Ontario’s play-based kindergarten approach as an important step forward.

I-Think’s work is focused on systemic change in education through integrative thinking—that is, using creativity to find new solutions to problems. As students move into post-secondary school, creativity should remain an underlying value of the system, allowing space for real-world problem solving.

“The really cool thing about creativity is that it’s an unlimited resource,” said Janet Morrison, president of Sheridan College. “It’s constantly renewed and it can be improved upon through education, experience and stimulation.”

It’s ok to fail and learn from your mistakes in the name of experimentation

Shopify can attribute much of its success to hiring smart, creative people with a “growth mindset.” Brittany Forsyth, the company’s outgoing chief talent officer was employee #22 at the firm, and had a front row seat to its exponential growth. In our chat with her, she emphasized the importance of hiring for potential versus qualifications.

“It starts with giving permission,” she said. “It’s about telling everyone who’s joining, ‘you’re going to fail and it’s actually OK to, as long as you don’t make the same mistake twice or over and over again.’ We give permission to do these key things, such as experiment, fail, grow.”

Think big picture and stay focused on the mission

Tom Waller, Lululemon’s chief science officer and SVP of advanced innovation, shared his insights about not getting too complacent.
“The important thing that we had to do was to not get too good at being Lululemon, to not get stuck in that identity that others would start to describe,” said Waller.

The most important thing is to be able to back up a little bit from the business model and look harder at the overall purpose, he noted. “The business model encourages us not to change. The purpose encourages us to change.”

Use the crisis as a catalyst to chart a better path forward

The pandemic has given us all ample time to reflect on what matters most – our health. It’s also accelerated change, and in turn, a reassessment of our values and purpose. It’s a time that has brought forth new opportunities.

“A lot of incredible things are forged in the crisis,” said Waller. “A lot of amazing inventions are formed under crisis, so I think that crisis is the one of the greatest opportunities to apply creativity.”

This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While the information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or its affiliates.


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