“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” – Albert Einstein(1)
Taking a look at history we can see that creativity has progressively come to play more and more important role in economic success. In 1997, economist and then Chairman of the US Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan addressed the University of Connecticut about the growing demand for creative workers. He said,
“The growth of the conceptual component of output has brought with it accelerating demands for workers who are equipped not simply with technical know-how, but with the ability to create, analyze, and transform information and to interact effectively with others.”(2)
Each century has required a different set of skills and as Greenspan pointed out, technical know-how is one of the basic skills required in past centuries. Looking at the main type of work done in each century can give you an idea of how the skill sets have changed over time.
Author Daniel H. Pink dives into this topic even deeper with his statement, “As a result of the excess in spoiled consumer societies (oversupply), the relocation of global production to Asia (outsourcing), and automation, the economies of the US and Europe can only generate the value they need in the 21st century through creative commodities and ideas/innovation.”(3)
The leading economies now require a new skill set in the Conceptual Age/Imagination Age. Skills such as manual labor or following strong left-brain processes no longer carry the same strong value. Moving forward, the most valued skill will be creativity.
Obviously, different leadership skills were required manage factory workers producing the Ford Model T than were required in the Information Era to grow Microsoft. Pink foresees a power shift moving from left-hemisphere leadership skills to right-hemisphere leadership skills.
To support this shift, in a Forbes study, which asked, “How important has creativity-inspired leadership become to each of the following organizational roles?” 98% agreed that they saw creativity as a critical factor for their company’s success.(4) Additionally, in an IBM global CEO study covering 1,541 CEO’s and executives in 60 countries, 60% saw creativity as the most important leadership quality over the next five years.(5)
Have you seen a shift in value from left to right hemisphere traits? What are your thoughts on this transition?
I’ll finish with an interesting graphic which shows the migration of valued skills from the left-hemisphere to the right-hemisphere.
1 Einstein, Albert- Saturday Evening Post Oct 26, 1929
2 Greenspan, Alan – University of Connecticut (Oct. 14, 1997)
3 Pink, Daniel – “A whole new mind – why right brainers will rule the future” (2005)
4 Alison, David – Can Creativity Save The World? Marketers Think So – 1st annual C-Factors Index, Forbes (April 2011)
5 IBM Institute for Business Value, Global CEO survey (2010)