John Hagel III, co-author along with John Seely Brown and Lang Davison of The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion, at an Aspen Conference on Talent Development, made a rather telling observation that business recruiters are always looking for creative people.
Then he noted... they look again at these creative people on their way out... during their "exit interview."
This is all too common with many corporations.
What to do with creative people once business finds them is hard work. So too is identifying them, as creativity still isn't easily measured or easy to codify. Most résumés are silent on this special qualification. Most business aren't advertising for such special talents either, although that may be what they are looking for.
Some years ago Business Week magazine (BW) the leading publication for business said: "The game is changing... It isn't just about math and science anymore (Although those are surely important disciplines) It's about creativity, imagination, and, above all, innovation."
Soon after, they dropped the "Creative Age" stuff and started calling it the "Age of Innovation." According to one BW editor who did not wish to be quoted, business readers just didn't think the magazine was talking to them any more.
Think about that.
So much for the problem business faces. On the artists side there is a different set of issues.
For starters, many artists are uncomfortable selling this idea. It's not what artists do, and some think its even demeaning. Two, the arts community isn't sure how to communicate the power of arts training. One of my University colleagues said that he doesn't teach dance really as much as he teaches physics, and that maybe we have to find a different language to describe what we do, what the students are really learning, so the connections will be easier to make. He has a point.
It is up to artists and artist organizations like Americans for the Arts, frankly, which is doing its part -- to help change the business and philanthropic perspective.
Artists and art organizations at every level need to make a stronger case that the arts lead to creativity, and that it can be measured, certainly identified.
And business needs to better understand the powerful role of the arts, and support arts training, maybe arts integration too.
Does all creativity come from the arts? Of course not, but the chances of nurturing creativity through arts based training is a no brainier.
Today, as Sandra Ruppert, President of Art Education Partnership observed, is this: "Arts learning experiences play a vital role in developing students' capacities for critical thinking, creativity, imagination, and innovation. These capacities are increasingly recognized as core skills and competencies all students need as part of a high-quality and complete 21st-century education."
Only you, people reading this blog because you know and care, can make the points that need to be made to change the status quo.
Steve Jobs, we now know since his death, said, "People with passion can change the world for the better." You have the passion, and the knowledge to change the world. To change so many things with what's wrong today.
This is the 11th hour. Either we make the changes to succeed in the wake of globalization, or the world's greatest experiment in freedom, in creativity, in democracy fails.
This post has been modified since its original publication.