Adobe's 2016 global study on creativity shows that investing in creativity is more important than ever--tangible benefits range from higher income to greater national competitiveness and productivity.

The study surveyed 5,000 adults throughout five countries, and links creativity with personal and professional success. Eighty-five percent of U.S. respondents say creativity makes them better leaders, parents and students. People who identify as creators globally report household income that is 13 percent higher than non-creators.

Creativity and productivity go hand in hand, but investing in creativity isn't on the agenda for enough of today's leaders. We still have a creativity gap.

"This survey provides a big wake-up call to businesses that they need to think differently and give employees the tools and freedom to be creative," observes Mala Sharma, vice president of Creative Cloud at Adobe. Sharma says, "An investment in creativity and design is simply good business."

What you need to know about creativity

Creativity delivers benefits for creators, economy and society

Creativity has permeated every aspect of society and has become vital to financial and economic success.

  • 77 percent of U.S. respondents agree that being creative is valuable to the economy and society (82 percent).
  • Being creative drives self-worth. Creators are more likely than non-creators to identify themselves as innovative (+27 percentage points), confident (+21 percentage points), problem solvers (+11 percentage points) and happy (+15 percentage points).
  • Being creative pays: Based on their reported household income, U.S. creators earn 17 percent more than non-creators.
  • Yet only five in 10 respondents (55 percent) describe themselves as creative and 44 percent say they are living up to their creative potential.

Creativity and design make for good business

Creativity's benefits are not just for individuals - businesses benefit from prioritizing creativity and good design.

  • Most U.S. respondents believe businesses that invest in creativity are more likely to foster innovation (88 percent), be competitive (88 percent), provide better customer experience (88 percent), have satisfied customers (89 percent) and be financially successful (85 percent).
  • Respondents also say such businesses are more likely to have happier employees (88 percent) and increased employee productivity (88 percent).
  • Eighty-three percent agree there is increasing pressure to be productive rather than creative at work. However, six in 10 (62 percent) say people are increasingly expected to think creatively at work.
  • Eighty-three percent of respondents also agree that it is important for businesses to focus on good design.

Creativity thrives with leadership support

How do beliefs and attitudes in your company compare with the study? If you say you or your company supports creativity, don't be so sure your employees feel the same way. Plan a dialogue around these questions to unlock creativity in your organization and drive innovation:

  1. How will the leadership of your organization nurture, fund, and promote programs to increase creative capability?
  2. How will you overcome the barriers that stifle creativity at work?
  3. How will you close the gap between creativity and productivity?
  4. What goals will you set for creative outcomes?
  5. How will you prioritize and fund new ideas that come from employees or customers?
  6. How will you encourage the creation of novel customer experiences that build bonds and increase brand loyalty?

Have a look at Adobe's Infographic for a visual summary of their report

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