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Creativity is the greatest skill to be used to develop people, companies and countries

Gabriel Mario Rodrigues is Chairman of the Board of Directors of ABMES


by Gabriel Mario Rodrigues

Everyone was surprised when Facebook bought WhatsApp for about $ 20 billion, with about 1 billion subscribers, even though it was not making any money. But Zuckerberg had grand plans for it: to transform it into the greatest medium of communication and collaboration between people; to perform all the services that banks provide, without the need for physical branches; and to be the world’s largest business middleman.

Walmart is already experimenting in its US supermarkets with an application that eliminates waiting lines to pay for purchases. People simply scan the purchased products and eliminate the need for cashiers. This is not a big news, because in our day to day we use applications for everything, including for religious reading of the Bible.

Technology is facilitating everything, but it is simply a means. What matters are the ideas of the people who first thought of finding solutions to facilitate human work, starting from the first hominid that created the wheel to facilitate the transport of things.

To have ideas to solve problems, and to overcome challenges is not only the capacity of specialists, but of everyone. Creativity is no longer seen as a divine gift, but a skill that everyone can develop. Just practice.

I think I will never tire of repeating that creativity is what will make a difference in the economy in an ever-arriving future. And I’m not alone in that.

Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum, best known for his annual meetings in Davos, is convinced that ideas, more than capital, will be the critical factor in production. Ana Clara Fonseca, an economist and professor at the FGV and the National Universities of Córdoba, says that creativity is the main contemporary asset. Just as UK economists have, since 2005, believed that investing in creativity is a viable medium and long-term way out for strategic development-related issues.

Creativity is a word of multiple definitions that refers to the ability to create the new and to reinvent what already exists, to dilute traditional paradigms, to join points that seem disconnected and, with that, to generate solutions to new and old problems. In economic terms, it is a renewable fuel whose stock increases with use, so competition between creative agents, rather than saturating the market, can attract and stimulate the performance of new producers.

Both knowledge and information represent basic inputs for creativity and its product is innovation. In an economic-social scenario where uncertainty is the only surety, the source of competitive and lasting advantage is knowledge: in addition to capital, raw materials and manpower, strategic areas of companies turned their eyes towards use of ideas as an essential resource for generating value.

Thus, in the last decades companies have begun to recognize the relevance of creativity and innovation and to consider them in their strategic planning.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) concluded in its “2010 Creative Economy Report” that there is no simple definition of creativity that encompasses all of its many dimensions. However, the characteristics of creativity in different areas involving humans can be structured as follows:

  • – Artistic creativity: it involves the imagination and the ability to generate original ideas and new ways of interpreting the world, being able to be expressed in the oral, textual, physical (body language), sound and image formats;
  • – Scientific creativity: it involves curiosity and willingness to experiment and make new connections with a view to solving problems related to science;
  • – Economic creativity (manufacturing, industry and services): it is a process that results in technological innovation, business practices, marketing, among other activities. It is closely linked to the acquisition of competitive advantage in the economy.
  • – But how have the economy and the school faced these changing times? Children today live in a digitized world, while our education is from the last century (or the one before!).

For Ken Robinson, an English professor and consultant to European governments, we are made up of a mediocre educational system, where everything is standardized and sequenced. According to him, it is necessary to change to a manufactured, organic education.

Learning that human growth is not a linear, mechanical process, but organic, Robinson says that the current educational system erases the creativity and natural curiosity of young people by forcing them to set themselves up in a one-dimensional academic mold.

“Our educational system has explored our minds as we explore the land: in search of a specific resource. And for the future, this is not good. We have to rethink the fundamental principles on which we base the education of our children,” he says. Thus, according to him, education needs to be adapted to different circumstances and personalized. It is necessary to create a system in which people seek their own answers.

In the 21st century, there is no longer room for a model of education in which the student is merely a spectator who only absorbs content while the teacher, holder of all knowledge, shows on a blackboard or on a screen the theory that only he dominates for the students to memorize it.

The school should provide the conditions for the student to leave the world of ideas and put into practice their knowledge, opportunities to develop their creative capacity, collaborative work, perseverance and resilience.

It is important that the school, besides contributing to the development of critical and creative thinking, should be able to solve problems of all kinds. For this, it is fundamental to adopt a methodology that proposes challenges, rather than just providing information.

Today, above all, a learning-oriented model is needed that privileges one’s own reasoning, ability and creativity, not a model of compulsory teaching as occurred in the past.

Creativity is the greatest asset that nature has given us: to generate ideas and propose innovations, to overcome the challenges that progress imposes on humanity, and to transform dreams and longings into the welfare and happiness of all. This great asset of intelligence is capable of transforming projects into actions, connecting people to life and work purposes, creating networks of knowledge-sharing. It must be embedded in the educational systems to support the demands of a new information-saturated, technology-driven economy that requires agility, inventiveness, collaboration, and continuous sharing of knowledge. A truly transformative educational model for the 21st century is one that cultivates and stimulates creativity and innovation.