Creativity deficit

Building a learning community in organisations


Monday, February 11, 2019

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Over the years the private sector as well as the public sector have complained about the short-sightedness and lack of inventiveness of our university graduates in the area of development and entrepreneurship. This is an important area for a small country to tap into to spur growth and development within its economy. However, where did this creativity deficit begin and how can we address its decline to aid Jamaica in achieving five per cent gross domestic product (GDP) growth in four years.

For years Jamaica has been producing graduates of world-class standards. However, there still remains a deficit of creativity in the workplace as these graduates are not transitioning into world-class employees. It is, therefore, now necessary to examine the education system. What is happening to produce result of non-creativity?

On closer observation it could be seen that although there exist a few programmes that encourage students to think, many are still tied to the old write and talk format of assessment in which the students are assessed using standardised or similar types of testing.

It is further argued that students are generally taught to regurgitate material for examination without ever stopping to think about the application or consequences of the information taught, or about how that knowledge can be used to improve the society. This negates the efforts placed on students by the society to develop and become thought and action leaders in their field of work.

I have experienced an overseas education and within those programmes students are taught how to positively analyse issues. We were taught to take our ideas to class, discuss them from our unique perspective, and submit them for grading, especially in our area of work. Unfortunately, for far too long students were used to regurgitating information to pass examinations missing out on the importance of discussing new ideas that could change the world and developing thought leaders.

To go further, it is understood that students are marked down for not representing the ideas presented by the teachers/lecturers in programmes of study. They are not given the latitude to go deeper into thoughts and to explore new ideas in a practical way, which ultimately suppresses their creativity

This lack of creativity seeps down into organisations that spew out graduates who are incapable of critically analysing ideas and incapable of making measured sound decisions.

The effect on the organisation is two-fold. The organisation will inherit graduates who need close supervision and are conformists; they do not bring that vivacious attitude to challenge standards and norms and are stuck in the daily routines of the job. It is widely held that most ideas come from the youth, and if such ideas are not forthcoming the nation will lose out on its young talent or the added bonus of multiple streams of income.

This lack of creativity — if allowed to persist — also seeps into the organisation through management. Managers, who themselves came from a non-creative educational background are not fully equipped to make challenging and genius decisions. They are used to doing things one way and are not open to new paradigms, changes, or new ideas, which is as a result of a lack of training of a loss of interest in being creative.

This growth deficit is exacerbated when dealing with exceptional or creative employees. Creative employees tend to be shut down by unimaginative superiors and their ideas are pushed aside by those managers who are comfortable with the regular run of the mill workdays which include sticking adhesively to tradition and culture.

To address the creativity issues in organisations leaders and managers should encourage openness and communication to facilitate the exchanging of ideas. Diversity in opinions must be vigorously encouraged, sought, and tested for application, and think tanks facilitated for regular discussions. I would further argue that in any organisation, if the leader is not receiving regular feedback from the staff on ways to influence improvements in efficiencies, then that organisation is showing signs of non-creativity. No organisation's operations are 100 per cent. Therefore, carefully crafted ideas are always being sought by successful leaders to increase the profit of businesses. In addition, processes become redundant over time, customers tastes change, and the general needs of populations change. The organisation should seek to create an environment in which learning is encouraged and experiences shared to facilitate development. Hence, it is always good to have the youth challenging norms which could lead to ingenious ideas that may change the outlook of the world and, in particular, Jamaica's economic woes.

Horatio Morgan is a certified management analyst interested in the areas of technical analysis, development of indicators, and developmental research. Send comments to the Observer or

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