Global Study: Only 25% of You Think You're Living Up to Your Creative Potential

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Only 25% of people believe they are living up to their potential to be creative, and more than 75% of people feel that their countries are not living up to their collective potential to be creative.

That was just one of the startling findings in a just-released global benchmark study conducted by Adobe about how creativity is perceived and valued in different regions of the world. The research was fielded in March and April, and 5,000 adults in the U.S., U.K., Germany, France and Japan were interviewed.

"The purpose of the study was to get a gut-feel for how people are feeling about creativity today," Ann Lewnes, senior VP of marketing at Adobe for the past five years, told Ad Age. The release of the data coincides with a marketing campaign Adobe is launching to market a new service called the Creative Cloud, a suite of touch applications available on Android and iPad devices.

Across the study data, people in the U.S. said they have the highest regard for the value of creativity, but also expressed the most concern going forward about the way creativity is valued.

In the U.S., more than half -- 52% -- of all respondents described themselves as creative, the highest of all the regions, and significantly higher than France, which was just 36%, and much higher than Japan's 19%.

Overall, Japan rose to the top as the most creative country, but Japanese respondents themselves didn't view Japan as the most creative. Tokyo was deemed the most creative city --cited by 30% of people -- followed by NYC.

Six in 10 people felt that being creative is valuable to their country's economy, while in the U.S., that number was 7 in 10 people. The country where the least number of people thought creativity is very important to the economy -- 13% -- was France.

Nearly two-thirds of all surveyed believe that being creative is valuable to society. In all regions, more than half of people said they believe that creative impulses increase during times of economic uncertainty or downturns.

More than half of all the respondents said they feel creativity is being stifled by the educational system.

Most Disturbing: The State of Education
"The most disturbing data was on the state of education ... teachers were perceived as the least-important judges for creativity, which is troubling for the future and for youth," said Ms. Lewnes, who pointed out that with budget issues severe in the educational system, arts programs often are one of the first things to get cut.

Respondents overall reported that they spent less time creating at work than they did outside of work. "We see that as being hampered by lack of time and the environment they are in not being conducive to creativity," said Matt Norquist, exec VP at StrategyOne, which conducted the research. "We clearly haven't quantified the value of creativity in the workplace ... productivity and creativity shouldn't be juxtaposed. If we can get to the point where the two are brought together, that value can be taken to the bank."

Indeed, the respondents reported that there's increasing pressure to be productive rather than creative at work. In the U.S. and U.K., 80% of people felt that way, and that number rose as high as 85% in France.

"That speaks to discouragement in the workplace for creativity," said Ms. Lewnes.

And despite the proliferation of open-space environments in ad agencies and design firms, it's possible that such office settings may be hampering, rather than fostering creativity. Seven in 10 of the respondents reported that they prefer to work by themselves when being creative.

Interestingly, social media plays a minor role, if any, in motivating people to create; less than 15% said it plays a large role.

For more on the study, click here.

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