EMIR 'The Advisory Council': Regional business leaders see creativity/innovation and adaptability as the key skills for COVID-19 crisis recovery

Regional business leaders see creativity/innovation and adaptability as the key skills for Covid-19 crisis recovery

A branded personal development poll question from the University of Manchester was posed to several hundred business attendees of ‘The Advisory Council’, a series of on-going virtual conferences organised by the UAE Ministry of Economy and EMIR (Emerging Markets Intelligence & Research).

The question was: ‘given the current business environment, what skills/traits will you look for most in new talent?

The attendees gave a very clear response with 33% voting for ‘creativity and innovation’, followed closely by 31% who selected ‘adaptability’. The other choices that attracted votes were problem-solving, leadership, emotional intelligence, collaboration, risk awareness, and IQ.   
According to Xavier Duran, Director of MBA Programmes at Alliance Manchester Business School, many companies have shown remarkable adaptability and agility, as they try to ensure some form of continuity while keeping people safe, through remote working and a reliance on digital tools and platforms to stabilise business and continue to serve customers in some way. 

“The need now is for ‘versatility’ or adaptability and it’s a vital attribute but there’s more. Business leaders need a distinctive set of skills with a global outlook. I see five key skills for the MBA student to develop – communications, collaboration, critical thinking, confidence, and creativity. Creativity is a skill that algorithms don’t have - ideas and thinking about strategy.” 
The path to innovation in products, services and processes starts with the creative idea, before leading into the application of ideas to produce the innovation.  

people face problems and opportunities every day, and overcome them in their own way and this is equally important; if you can create a team or organisation, a government or a country with this attitude towards creative problem solving, then you can harness the collective creativity of an entire nation.

Every individual has the capacity to be creative and research studies have shown that creativity can be trained and produce improvements on everything from attitudes towards the importance of creativity at work through to improvements in job performance.

Creating a creative culture involves individuals, teams and the organisation as a whole is challenging and depends on many factors. It takes Vision, and leaders who not only set the agenda and framework for creativity and innovation but who also lead, inspire, drive and support and reward the efforts of others. It goes even further than this - leaders have an obligation to live the values of creativity and innovation themselves. 

Creativity is the most important skill for leaders in the modern world of work.  It is essential that organisations encourage creativity to drive innovation. If creativity is vital for innovation, then this is a skill that must be mastered. But some leadership behaviours that may work well in normal conditions can be a weakness when creativity is crucial.

What is Creativity?
Creativity is the capacity within individuals to develop ideas for the purpose of solving problems and exploiting opportunities.

Creativity is not an art, it is not design and is not the sole preserve of geniuses.

Creativity is a capacity – it is something that we can all learn to use more effectively. It allows us to develop ideas to solve problems in different ways and capture opportunities.

What is Innovation?
Innovation is the application of creativity to give rise to a new concept, product, service or process delivering something new and better to the world.
When we innovate, we work with the creative ideas we have developed and put them into practice.

Innovation is not just about making new gadgets and fancy widgets. We can be innovative in New Product Design, but in many other ways too. New concepts, like how to lead and motivate people at work, as well as new services and processes.

How Are They Related?
Innovation relies on creativity. You cannot innovate without first developing some ideas.  Creativity is the source of innovation. Every improvement at work starts with an idea.

Why Do Organisations Need Creativity?
A range of studies has found that the highest performing companies in the world encourage staff at every level to solve problems to make things new and better. Soft skills are in high demand: problem‑solving, creativity and innovation, leadership and adaptability. Why? Because creativity and innovation lead to profit.

Can Creativity be Trained?
Research studies have shown that creativity can be trained. Creativity training programmes produced improvements on everything from attitudes towards the importance of creativity at work through to improvements in job performance.

The first and most fundamental barrier, is that people do not understand that they are creative and do not recognise where their strengths and weaknesses lie.

The second major barrier is that organisations do not understand how to identify, nurture, manage and develop creative thinking skills.

How to Build a Culture of Creativity
Creativity provides the ideas that allow for innovation. So how do we build a culture of creativity? This requires matching bottom-up processes with top-down processes. Top-down processes are the formal practices that help to form the culture. Mission, vision, values, and so on.

Organisations are normally very good at including creativity and innovation in their mission, vision and values but less strong in matching these top-down approaches with bottom-up, grass roots creativity development.

To match the mission and vision from the top, individuals and teams need to be trained to develop their creativity skills.