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New Survey Points to "Creativity Gap" in U.S. Workplace

"Creative economy" to be focus of future workforce, conference

Fairfax County, Virginia, USA, September 21, 2007 — At a time when many economists and futurists are pointing to creativity and innovation as one of the cornerstones of U.S. competitiveness in the years ahead, a new survey finds that, while an overwhelming majority of American workers believe they are instinctively creative, fewer than two in three think they are tapping their creative capacities on the job.

The survey, commissioned by the Fairfax County (Virginia) Economic Development Authority (FCEDA), host of the 2007 National Conference on the Creative Economy in October (www.creativeeconomies.org), and conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs, found that 88 percent of U.S. workers consider themselves creative. But when it comes to creativity in the workplace, just 63 percent said their positions were creative, and a comparable 61 percent thought similarly about the companies for which they work.

This “creativity gap” – the disparity between the creative resources available and those being employed – can be an important indicator, experts say, in determining how well American companies are preparing for a future U.S. economy that will rely on creativity and innovation more than ever.

“The U.S. economy has always been fueled by new ideas and innovation, and this survey underscores the value that American workers put on creativity at work,” said Gerald L. Gordon, Ph.D., president and CEO of the FCEDA. “In many ways, the results of this research are a wakeup call to U.S. companies. Today they must find new ways to harness the creative energies of the workforce, and give their employees creative and productive outlets for their ideas to close the creativity gap.”

The survey found that most workers put a high premium on creativity at work.  Seventy-five percent of respondents thought their employers valued their creativity, and even more telling, one in five (21%) said they would change jobs in order to be more creative at work even if it meant earning less money.  Twenty-nine percent of those surveyed indicated they would move if it meant being part of a more creative community.  This was especially true of younger workers ages 18-34 (37%).

“The communities that attract and retain this talent will be the economic winners in the future,” Gordon said.

 The “creative economy,” a term coined by economist and author (Rise of the Creative Class) Richard Florida, reflects the growing sense that creativity is an economic engine, and that creative people – from software engineers to healthcare professionals to entrepreneurs – provide a critical stimulus for economic growth.

Florida will be one of the keynote speakers at the 2007 National Conference on the Creative Economy to be held October 24-25 in Fairfax County. Other prominent participants include Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Tom Friedman, futurist Alvin Toffler, FORTUNE magazine senior writer Anne Fisher and CNN journalist Frank Sesno. 

Conference sponsors are the Fairfax County government, the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, FORTUNE, Americans for the Arts, ICMA, The Push Group LLC, Siddall, SkillSource Group, the Washington Business Journal, Potomac Tech Wire, Tech Journal South and Quince Imaging.

About the survey
The survey was conducted July 23, 2007 through August 3, 2007 by IPSOS Public Affairs, an independent, survey-based research company. As part of its weekly U.S. Telephone Omnibus Study, IPSOS interviewed 564 adults ages 18 and older, who indicated they were employed in a part-time or full-time job. The margin of error for the entire survey is 4.13% at a 95% confidence level. 

About the FCEDA
The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (www.FairfaxCountyEDA.org) promotes Fairfax County as a business and technology center. Fairfax County is host to the National Conference on the Creative Economy and is an example of the creative economy: 57 percent of county residents work in “creative occupations” in information technology, professional services, education and other fields. Fairfax County is the Washington, D.C., area’s private-sector job leader. Time magazine called it “one of the great economic success stories of our time.” The FCEDA maintains marketing offices in Silicon Valley, Bangalore, Frankfurt, London, Seoul and Tel Aviv.


Featured Speaker

Photo of Richard Florida.

Richard Florida

Professor Richard Florida is the author of the 2002 best-seller, The Rise of the Creative Class and the 2005 must-read follow-up, The Flight of the Creative Class.

Photo of Thomas Friedman.

Thomas Friedman

Three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the New York Times , Thomas Friedman is the author of the runaway best-seller The World is Flat: A Brief History of the 21st Century.

Photo of Alvin Toffler.

Alvin Toffler

Author of the book Revolutionary Wealth and former associate editor of Fortune magazine, Alvin Toffler literally invented the roll of the futurist with the publication of his seminal work Future Shock.

Photo of David DeLong.

David DeLong

MIT AgeLab research fellow and and adjunct professor at Babson College, David DeLong is the author of Lost Knowledge: Confronting the Threat of an Aging Workforce. His firm, David DeLong & Associates, helps companies solve performance and staffing problems caused by an aging workforce and skills shortages.

Photo of Joe Watson.

Joe Watson

Joe Watson is CEO of Without Excuses and StrategicHire, located in Reston, VA. Without Excuses delivers professional development programs across a wide swath of executive skills. StrategicHire specializes in the placement of diverse middle- and senior-level management personnel across a broad range of industries. Watson is the author of Without Excuses: Unleash the Power of Diversity to Build Your Business, published in 2006 by St. Martin's Press.

Photo of Joe Watson.

Anne Fisher

Anne Fisher is a Senior Writer for FORTUNE magazine, where she covers workplace and management topics. Fisher also writes the popular weekly career-advice column "Ask Annie" at CNNMoney.com and is the author of two books, If My Career's on the Fast Track, Where Do I Get a Road Map? and Wall Street Women.

Photo of Frank Sesno

Frank Sesno

Frank Sesno has been chronicling world events as a journalist for more than 25 years. He serves as a Professor of Media and Public Affairs at The George Washington University (GW) in Washington, DC, and he is a Special Correspondent for CNN where he makes documentaries and works on special projects for the network.

Creativity Quotes

“Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.”

— George S. Patton

“The only things in my life that compatibly exist with this grand universe are the creative works
of the human spirit.”

— Ansel Adams

“The creative process is not controlled by a switch you can simply turn on or off; it's with you all the time.”

— Alvin Ailey

“If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking.”

— George S. Patton

“It is the supreme art
of the teacher
to awaken joy
in creative expression and knowledge.”

— Albert Einstein

“The question
is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be... The nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.”

— Martin Luther
King, Jr.

“All creative people want
to do the unexpected.”

— Hedy Lamarr

“Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.”

— Franklin D. Roosevelt

“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!”

— Dr. Seuss
(Theodore Geisel)

“There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world, and that is an idea whose time has come.”

— Victor Hugo

“We are not creatures of circumstance; we are
creators of circumstance.”

— Benjamin Disraeli

“It may be that those who do most, dream most.”

— Stephen Leacock

“Discovery consists of looking at the same thing as everyone else and thinking something different.”

— Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

“Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity.”

— Charles Mingus

“Whatever creativity is, it is in part a solution to a problem.”

— Brian Aldiss

“Creativity makes a leap, then looks to see where it is.”

— Mason Cooley