Creativity isn’t confined to the arts. The arts are a proven means to cultivate creativity, but the creative impulse shows up everywhere in life—and we need it across all disciplines. The city of Lowell is here because someone imagined industry on a larger scale. People moved here because they imagined a better life for themselves than where they started. Creativity is making something new or doing something a new way, whether it is a spontaneous prose true-story novel or a pocket-sized machine that holds thousands of song recordings. When the topic is the economy, creativity keeps popping up as the key ingredient to making America competitive again. Here’s what Thomas Friedman had to say about it this week in the NYTimes (the bold emphasis is mine)—PM:
Democratic Pollster Stan Greenberg told me that when he does focus groups today this is what he hears: “People think the country is in trouble and that countries like China have a strategy for success and we don’t. They will follow someone who convinces them that they have a plan to make America great again. That is what they want to hear. It cuts across Republicans and Democrats.”
To me, that is a plan that starts by asking: what is America’s core competency and strategic advantage, and how do we nurture it? Answer: It is our ability to attract, develop and unleash creative talent. That means men and women who invent, build and sell more goods and services that make people’s lives more productive, healthy, comfortable, secure and entertained than any other country. [I would add “meaningful” to this list—PM].
Leadership today is about how the U.S. government attracts and educates more of that talent and then enacts the laws, regulations and budgets that empower that talent to take its products and services to scale, sell them around the world — and create good jobs here in the process. Without that, we can’t afford the health care or defense we need.