Future proof your career

If you are not a creative thinker, you can kiss your job goodbye.

About 75% of the organisations surveyed by the World Economic Forum for its Future of Jobs Report 2023 mentioned creative thinking as the top skill required to navigate today’s complex world.

This was followed by analytical thinking, as the second most sought of skill for future jobs.

What makes creative thinking so important today?

In the world of artificial intelligence and ChatGPT, creative thinking is one skill that cannot be replicated by machines. People high on this skill set are able to look at situations differently and navigate complexities easily. Their ‘out-of-box’ thinking makes them the go-to person for solving problems.

Such people are eager to support and motivate others, thereby strengthening the culture of collaboration and teamwork within the organisation. This can have a direct impact on boosting productivity and efficiency.

Remember the different and unique way your offices adapted to Covid-19 situation? Many companies came up with innovative methods to ensure employees remained engaged in the virtual world. We even saw competitive pharmaceutical companies come together to develop a common vaccine. The Indian government moved with alacrity to online systems, ensuring essential services were not disrupted.

On a personal level I know of many friends and colleagues take the plunge to become entrepreneurs after rediscovering their lost passion during the lockdown. They completely changed their lifestyle and adopted a new business model. Creativity was certainly at a high here!

Businesses often fall into the trap of working in a certain way. So do we. I remember once asking why our company does not comment on the budget. The response I had got was that it had never done so and that was the way it was! It is not easy to change that mindset and explore something new, to get away from doing things the way they have always been done, and find innovative ways that takes the team along.

Being creative is the only way you can have career longevity. When you are open to scouting for new ideas you are safeguarding your career from future shocks. There is ample evidence to show that creative people are able to hold on to their jobs steadfastly and are also able to move up the ladder quickly.

How does one inculcate the habit of thinking creatively? Well, the easiest way is to by asking curious questions. Ask questions that can help you identify gaps in the product/market. Scan the competitive landscape to arrive at a list of things that can be done better and differently. The idea is to create a continuous circle of improvement and adaptability.

The other simple way to foster creativity is by sharing. Working in silos is dead. The best way to get the best results is through cross functional collaborations. When people with diverse thought processes come together to solve a problem, it creates a pool of innovative ideas that can quickly cascade into actionable items. While not all ideas can be translated into action, the teamwork ensures that there are enough alternatives to fall back on, should circumstances require so.

In coaching, one of my favourite question has always been ‘and what else?’ This question always has the client think of options and zero on to what is the best solution to whatever problem they are facing currently. This question when applied in business settings wherein complex problems need to be solved can actually open the door to disruptive thinking.

By fostering a culture of creative thinking, the organisation also adopts a growth mindset that enables continuous improvement.

Ask yourself how much of creative thinking you bring to the table and work towards fine tuning this very critical job skill for the future.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Sarita Bahl
Sarita Bahl is an alumnus of Tata Institute of Social Sciences and the Swedish Institute of Management Program. An experienced and versatile leader, she comes with nearly four decades of professional experience. She has over the years successfully overseen the communications and public affairs function and led the corporate social responsibility strategy for Bayer South Asia, Pfizer, and Monsanto, among others. Sarita has held multiple roles across diverse industries, the public sector, trade associations, MNCs, and the not-for-profit sector. Her areas of interest include advocacy, stakeholder engagement, sustainability, and communications.

As an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) from the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and Senior Practitioner (Mentoring) from the European Council of Mentoring and Coaching (EMCC), Sarita specializes in career transition, inner engineering and life issues. Sarita enjoys writing and is passionate about animals, books, and movies.

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