The Waste of Creative Talents


The waste of natural resources is a very serious and globally discussed environmental problem. Moreover, the most unique and precious natural resources are people and their talents, and unfortunately, they are also wasted. Creative human talents are easily wasted in economically poor countries where people do not have access to education. They are also wasted in developed countries where people have the chance to be educated, but education does not support them to develop their talents and unleash their creativity.

Creativity is putting your imagination to work, and it has produced the most extraordinary results in human culture.” Sir Ken Robinson

Children are very creative, and they naturally express their creative talents. However, they cannot use their talents and creativity for something productive and useful that can contribute to the development of human civilization. Now, let’s consider adults. They are “grown up children” who have “lost” their creativity, but they can be productive and innovate. Adults unlike children can contribute to the progress of humanity. They can use the “small amount of creativity” left in them, but they do not want to because of lack of motivation, or they cannot because of real life obstacles. In addition, social structures and organizational barriers drain adults’ creative inspiration and creative power.

George Land’s Creativity Test

George Land developed a creativity test which was used to select the most innovative engineers and scientists to work for NASA. The assessment was successful, and he decided to try it on children. “What we have concluded,” wrote Land, “is that non-creative behavior is learned.” Land’s conclusion is based on his research which he conducted in 1968. The research study tested the creativity of 1,600 children ranging in ages from three-to-five years old. He later re-tested the same children at 10 years, and again at 15 years of age. The test results:

  • 98% (5 years old)
  • 30% (10 years old)
  • 12% (15 years old)
  • 2% (280,000 adults)

When we analyze this data, the difference between 5 years old and 10 years old children is 68%. What a great decrease in creative behavior! The difference between 10 years old and 15 years old children is 18%. The drop of creativity in a period of 10 years is 86% which is really shocking!! This number reminds us of Sir Ken Robinson’s most popular TED talk “How schools kill creativity”. When we compare the results of 5 years old children with the results of adults the number is 96%!!!

Wasted Creative Talents

Nowadays, there is this common viewpoint that modern educational system all around the world needs to be changed. In other words, there is a need for educational reform. Since education is still based on the principles of the Industrial Period, the outcomes are not suitable for the 21st century world. The 21st century needs individual talent who is very creative and who can innovate. However, the system still implements the methods of mass education and standardized testing. On the other hand, what about adults? Have you ever asked the question “why adults are not creative”? Nobody discusses the reasons for the lack of creativity in adults. Maybe it is time to discuss this topic because there is a need for creative workforce that is innovative. It is time for change. The answers to “why” are clear. The answers of “how” are so many, and there are many creative solutions that can make the modern schools and organizations to be focused on individual talent and to be engaged in nurturing creativity.

“You can’t just give someone a creativity injection. You have to create an environment for curiosity and a way to encourage people and get the best out of them.” Sir Ken Robinson

Graham Wallas’ Stage Model

How can we generate creative solutions? There are many methods. Graham Wallas developed one of the first models of the creative process. He presented it in his work “Art of Thought”, published in 1926. Here are the 5 stages:

  1. Preparation– This is the first stage in which a creative individual or a team focuses minds on a problem and analyzes it.
  2. Incubation– In this stage, the creative individual or team internalizes the problem into the unconscious minds.
  3. Intimation– In the third stage, the creative individual or team “feels” the solution is on its way.
  4. Illumination– This is also called “insight”. In this stage, creative ideas burst forth from their pre-conscious processing into conscious awareness.
  5. Verification– In the final stage, the individual or team consciously verifies, elaborates and then applies the idea.

Prove Your Creative Talent

Do you wonder how creative you are? Do you think that you are very creative or not creative at all? You can test your level of creativity by clicking on the link below. Believe me it is fun. The test evaluates your creativity level measured across 8 different metrics. You will be very surprised that even though you are an adult, you are still very creative.

It would be great if we could know more about the results of the other test takers, and especially if we could compare the results of adults with those of children. However, this is not possible, and I think this is not very necessary because despite his/her biological age every human being is exceptionally creative. That is why it is time to stop the waste of creative talents. It is time to find collective and creative solutions…

(Posted also on LinkedIn Pulse)