In a recent study by Adobe, 80% of business leaders feel that creativity is essential to achieving financial growth, for it drives innovation and encourages efficiency. By using creative solutions, companies can produce differentiators, setting themselves apart from others in the marketplace. Creativity enables teams to drive meaningful results and solve complex challenges by developing new, unique solutions. Creativity is necessary for companies to succeed and flourish, especially in a world driven by competition.
Creativity isn’t necessarily about how well you did in art class, or how well you performed in the school musical; it’s much broader than that. Creativity is about being innovative and focusing on developing entirely new, unique ideas, and then bringing those ideas to life.
Creativity often requires taking risks since it revolves around trying new, novel, and untested solutions. This can often cause hesitation, knowing that failure might be a real possibility. Many people fear the unknown especially when it might result in failure.
Also according to Adobe, only about 50% of people describe themselves as creative. This lack of creative confidence is what we call the “creative skills-gap.”
In today’s job market, hiring managers are having trouble finding candidates with a creative problem-solving capacity, one of the most sought-after workforce skills. Employers need candidates who can regularly drum up innovative concepts and try new things without fearing failure.
How might we bridge this “creative skills gap”?
Creative thinking needs to be fostered in school. Students should be encouraged to explore new ideas and rewarded for their unique accomplishments. It’s really challenging to do that when they are required to closely follow a textbook curriculum and challenged to find the one pre-prescribed correct answer. Real-world situations don’t have an answer key!
This is one of the main reasons why CapSource encourages schools to provide students with learning experiences that revolve around industry third-parties and their up-to-date challenges. We help schools meaningfully match their faculty and students with business leaders to collaborate on project-based real-world research engagements that are aligned with course concepts. These engagements tap into students’ creativity by empowering them to solve real company challenges involving real company stakeholders.
For instance, CapSource designed a special Co-Op engagement between one student at the University of Delaware and, Sama Jashnani, the CEO at Down to Dash, an app that connects people based on their interests. The student specially requested exposure to Account Management, Customer Service, Marketing, PR, and Communications.
The objective of the engagement was to create a comprehensive, go-forward plan to help the company improve its product and marketing strategy, including key metrics and outcomes to track in order to measure success.
After critically analyzing the Down to Dash business model and industry, the student interviewed app users to explore the features that got them most excited about the app. The student proceeded to come up with ways the company could highlight these user stories as part of their digital marketing strategy, something the company had never tried before. The student’s plan included methods and samples that can be used to improve the company’s content marketing strategy and details like the type of content they should be using, the frequency of posts needed to properly engage their audience, and the type of success metrics they should be tracking including views, clicks, and conversions.
When provided with the opportunity to collaborate with different stakeholders and get creative, the student was able to develop a compelling, unique plan for how the company could improve their digital marketing strategy. Ultimately, the student applied creative thinking by offering unique ideas for the company to adopt and execute on moving forward.
Through experiential learning engagements, students can boost their creative thinking skills by:
- Developing Unique Ideas: Creativity hinges on your ability to challenge yourself to come up with new, unique ideas. Even if they don’t seem realistic or feasible at first glance, giving yourself time to think outside of the box trains your brain to analyze situations more broadly and stress test your assumptions.
- Exploring Multiple Options: Instead of formulating one solution, challenge yourself to come up with multiple. Being able to process and present multiple options means you fully understand the situation and relevant constraints. With more options comes a higher likelihood of success.
- Diving Deep & Deducing: Become an expert and showcase your thought process and reasoning. Take your ideas one step further by proving you understand implications of moving forward and why a certain route might produce more favorable outcomes.
- Encouraging Feedback & Collaboration: Creativity for most peaks in group settings where you’re able to collaborate and build off of each other. Through collaboration you can bounce ideas off of other folks that have diverse backgrounds and perspectives. You can also regularly check your assumptions by asking for feedback.
How can educators encourage creativity?
Regardless of course topic, educators can play a key role in developing creative capabilities in their students. By implementing programs that promote innovative, out-of-the-box thinking, educators can build long-term creative potential in their students. Here are some tips that can help any educator foster a creative classroom dynamic:
- Flip the Classroom: Make class more about discussion and sharing ideas. Require students to work on projects and reflect on core course topics outside of class time.
- Skip the Memorization: Avoid challenging students to cram and memorize concepts. It’s the least creative process (and frankly, it’s something machines do much better). Instead, encourage students to show that they know how to use concepts and frameworks to solve problems.
- Reward Unique Ideas: When students come up with novel ideas during class discussion or through their class work, highlight them. Explain why it’s unique compared to the rest of the responses so that the students understand how you’re assessing creativity.
- Build Iterative Deliverables: Let students develop deliverables over time with your feedback so they’re consistently able to improve. Scaffold lessons that build off of one another so that students are able to develop a deeper knowledge base and fine-tune their approach along the way.
- Require Collaboration: Rather than individual assignments, consider deliverables that require students to meet, discuss, and brainstorm solutions.
- Encourage Diversity: Place students on projects and in groups that are diverse. Help the students grow by requiring that they get out of their comfort zone and find solutions where everyone agrees.
CapsSource offers engagements in several different formats, including Live Business Cases, Capstone Projects, Co-Ops, and Site Visits, making it easy to incorporate experiential learning engagements into any class or program structure.
CapSource’s experiential learning framework requires students to practice using key universal skills like communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity in order to develop real outcomes for real stakeholders who provide meaningful and actionable feedback along the way. As a result, students gain reference-worthy experience working with real companies, in real business functions, on real challenges that have real stakes.
About Guest Blog Writer – Jacqueline Luciano is the founder of UNRAVELED – a space catered to undergraduate students and young professionals trying to figure out and navigate life after college. After being in the professional world for over three years, Jacqueline has learned that there is so much more to figure out than what can be taught in the classroom. Students need to assess themselves, their skill-set, and their life goals in order to make themselves feel most successful about their career progress. Her foremost objective with UNRAVELED is to provide undergraduates and young professionals with resources that will make them more successful and better prepared for the real world. She hopes to provide readers with alternative perspectives that challenge conventional views of the workforce, on what college offers, and what students should consider about their lives after college. Jacqueline joined the CapSource team as a Guest Blog Writer because she believes experiential learning can alleviate a lot of the challenges she encountered while transitioning between higher-ed and the professional work environment.