Can creativity save jobs at risk of automation?

According to a recent NASA survey, 98% of healthy 5-year-olds have creative ability at genius level, while in adults this figure is rapidly declining to 2%. Even more alarming is the fact that within Industry 4.0, up to 60% of routine refills can be threatened by automation, which can be replaced to some extent by machines. There are 350 million jobs in Europe, and 1.8 million jobs in the Czech Republic. This calls for a radical solution.

Here we will describe one of the promising attempts to measure the current level of creative and innovative competencies of employees and to deploy follow-up activities to develop those that prove to be suppressed. So, this is an attempt to re-establish creativity and to postpone the deposits that civilization, school, and routine operations have signed upon us, and to reintegrate it into business benefits. After such a broadening of competencies, the chances are that today’s more routine employees may not lose their jobs completely, but will be able to move to positions with more creative activity.

What creative competences do children have?

What qualities do we see as part of the creative nature of young children that enable them to creatively explore and discover the world? Everyone thinks it is primarily fantasy and imagination. However, without the courage to experiment, to abandon the earlier ways of dealing with and openness to new challenges, we cannot imagine an inquisitive child. In order to bring his creative impulses to concrete outputs, he also needs enthusiasm and perseverance.

Further, without assertiveness, it does not establish itself among its peers, and without empathy it does not solve more complex relationship challenges. Finally, some analytical talents and the ability to learn from their mistakes will come in handy.

All of this is also a prerequisite for an adult to come up with new, unconventional ideas and bring them to practical benefit for their company or society.

A new way to measure creativity and innovation

A number of tests have been used to determine the level of creativity, but their weakness has been too narrow a focus on imagination and the creation of new ideas. Other components mentioned above were missing. Therefore, a group of work psychologists and practitioners has now developed and piloted a new test of creativity and innovation. An introductory study has just been completed to verify the correctness of each questionnaire and its overall reliability and validity.

This test measures the nine components of creativity and innovation that are needed to deliver practical outcomes useful in business practice. In accordance with the above-mentioned creative assumptions for children, these elements are:

  • Courage
  • Endurance
  • Openness
  • Imagination
  • Empathy
  • Enthusiasm
  • Assertiveness
  • Analytical skills
  • Learning and personal development skills

The test not only allows you to instantly measure the level of creativity and innovativeness of your employees in these 9 competencies and compare them to the first calculated standards, but also to compare them with the quantified requirements for the job.

How to Revert Creativity and Innovation to Employees – Learning by Playing

The self-testing can then be followed by a systematic corporate or personal program to develop creativity and innovation in each of the 77 sub-areas examined by the questionnaire where a weakness has been identified.

To this end, a whole range of fun games and activities have been created, divided into 77 categories to re-establish the individual components of creativity and innovativeness among program participants. Each of them keeps their development or learning diary about their progress and activities.

At the beginning of the corporate development program, there is a one to two-day team workshop that will allow the client to set goals and expectations from the corporate program, give participants the opportunity to be tested and provide them with group creative exercises and complex team games that motivate them to embark on taste and full verve.

How to transfer the personal effects of a creativity development program to the benefits of innovation for the company?

Typically, a 4-6 month corporate development program is built to combine personal benefits for employees from developing creative competencies with practical effects for the client. Every program is accompanied by an external lecturer, consultant and coach, who makes sure that everything works as it should and helps with the application of the newly learned practice.

In the middle of the program, participants will meet to verify that they actively participate in each of the recommended activities and have already made their first progress. During this meeting, he also chooses an area in which he will try to propose his own improvement proposal to the company or implement a specific improvement project in it, so that the output is not just the personal growth of the participants, but also the real benefit for the company.

At the end of the program, there is a workshop where participants attend a retest to verify their personal advancements in creativity and innovation, and to present to the client’s management the results of their improvement projects or proposals. After that, another group of participants from the company can enter the program and the original participants can go to the next level if they are interested.

Transfer test to story and solve virtual reality situations

However, this new attempt to restore the benefits of creativity and innovation to employees and their businesses is far from over. It will continue methodically by contrasting the validation of the creativity test to the real population of corporate program participants. This will test how those employees who are the most creative and innovative members of the team with the other reputation will score in the test.

Subsequently, there is still the intention to convert the original questionnaire into a story and a game with decision-making in virtual reality, which is to ensure a much more accurate measurement of the given creative competencies than just through self-assessment. However, this will only be a question of the following year. In time, we will hear from our readers with their first experiences.

Applying creativity in companies

Driverless autonomous vehicles; chat bot serving customers; artificial intelligence, which processes invoices better than accountants, or can plan and implement campaigns better than human beings; fully automatic warehouses; production line machines that talk to each other and find the optimum product path according to their workload, or order service when the failure approaches – these are just examples of the 4th Industrial Revolution that is already in front of our eyes and will still be accelerate.

Up to 60% of today’s positions can be automated – some 350 million jobs in Europe alone, 1.8 million in the Czech Republic. There is no doubt that we live in a society that will change fundamentally. We don’t have to worry – we’ve lost 3.5 million jobs by introducing computers, but we’ve gained 19.3 million new, albeit others.

Therefore, it is better to be ready and to build the foundations of your future work competencies today, which will require a different composition than what we were used to. We will have to change fundamentally not only the educational and career system in companies, but naturally also the school education system from the very first stages.

We will be much less in need of manual dexterity, basic cognitive skills – such as initial information processing – and far more advanced IT skills – programming or servicing sophisticated devices. But even more so, interpersonal skills, and in particular creative competence – our ability to create added value through innovative approaches.

The motivation of companies to implement and develop creative competencies seems clear – first and foremost the need to accelerate the innovative capacity that is the basis for future survival, not only in innovations reflected in new products, but also in the business model and overall business behavior and adaptation changing conditions.

Just as there is no profession that would not be untouched, there is no position in the company that would not touch this development – not just ordinary employees or executive management, but also top management, which must not be a brake on development and on the contrary, by its example, it must show the way to others. Every business restart project in the company should start from top management or even better from the owners.

In a few years, there will be shifts from the current positions to the new ones – that’s why it is necessary to start preparing for a new, challenging profession today – when a company does not employ employees in a new role, at least prepare it to move to another company or to a separate company business.

In addition to long-term innovation skills and preparation for major organizational changes, the motivation for introducing creative competencies can be tactical – to offer new, but also an attractive advantage to new and existing employees, which has an effect in their private lives and promotes teamwork.

Whatever the motivations of organizations, it is not a good thing to hesitate to start with the process of preparing for the changes caused by the 4th Industrial Revolution, not only in the technology field, but also in terms of soft factors. You will create a balanced mix of competencies for an agile organization that is well prepared for future challenges, and where a key element of future success – a creative employee – becomes its active part. Creatixo can perform this process successfully.

Jan Bízik, partner and senior consultant,, +420 773 584 738