Outlook 2020: Creativity will continue to power B.C.’s businesses


The world is changing at a rapid rate as technology advances how we communicate and work locally and globally.

Exponential technologies are disrupting traditional business models, automating many jobs while creating new career paths. Now more than ever, it is essential to harness and leverage our distinct human competitive advantage – creativity.

According to the World Economic Forum, by 2020, the top skills that humanity and jobs will require are creativity, problem solving and collaboration with others. The same research has found that 78% of hiring managers believe that creativity is necessary for economic growth, and only 51% think businesses grasp the importance of this skill.

Long story short: if you want to reap the benefits of globalization and make an impact on tomorrow’s world, you’ll need to become more creative.

As we enter 2020, it is time to review the past decade and acknowledge data that has been flying under the radar. Statistics Canada has shown that each year, the creative and cultural sectors have grown and now surpass many of our traditional economic activities. In 2017, the GDP of culture industries was $59 billion, outperforming agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting ($39 billion); accommodation and food services ($46 billion); and utilities ($46 billion). We have witnessed first-hand the change in economic activity within B.C., from the rise of the film industry to incubator tech startups. In contrast, the forest industry struggles with closures of mills and loss of jobs. 

Is it time that we review our traditional skills? Hiring managers think so – now preferring creative skills by more than five to one to conventional capabilities. IBM, meanwhile, reports that creativity has also become the most essential leadership quality, according to global CEOs.

A challenge we may encounter is that 75% of people feel that they aren’t living up to their potential to be creative. For many, this could stem from their experience in elementary or high schools that favoured industrial skills and memorization of facts over innovation and out-of-the-box thinking to solve problems.

Over the years, our creativity has been suppressed as we have lost confidence, developed doubt and feared ridicule from society if we failed at ‘unimportant’ artistic acts. Transformed from an industrial age into an informational era, our policies, educational systems and organizational leadership will need to stop suppressing creativity to overcome our fear of risk and intolerance of uncertainty.

Technology now puts the capability of a supercomputer in the palm of our hand, helping us meet world challenges of addressing emotions, cultures and better decision-making toward sustainable development.

Creative thinking is essential as it addresses discovery, envisioning, deficiencies, gaps in knowledge and disharmonies, and connects diverse ideas to find solutions. If we can grasp the potential of creativity in leaders and the power of creative intelligence to find solutions to complex problems, we can avoid potential pitfalls and catastrophes while building capacity and fundamentals for politics, economics and culture.

But to do so, we will need to overcome our limiting bias. The future of jobs will rely on it. The good news is that the skill of creativity is learnable through practice.

B.C. business leaders are entering a new era and have the ability and potential to capitalize on the changing economy. Those who embrace the creative can flourish in the next decade. •

Amanda Shatzko is president of AS Consulting and Art and serves as a director and vice-chair of the Regional District of the North Okanagan.