If you’re going to learn anything to get ahead in today’s fast-paced, competitive marketplace, make it creativity.

But don’t just take our word for it. There are many reports that show creativity’s direct links to profitability and economic progress. We’ve collected some of them here for you to review.

Research by Adobe shows 8 in 10 people feel that unlocking creativity is critical to economic growth, yet a striking minority – only 1 in 4 people – believe they are living up to their own creative potential. Nearly three-quarters (71%) say creative thinking should be taught.

A study by Forrester Consulting revealed that companies embracing creativity outperform competitors on indicators such as revenue growth, market share and talent acquisition. Key findings include:

  • Companies that foster creativity achieve higher revenue growth. Fifty-eight percent of survey respondents said firms that foster creativity had 2013 revenues exceeding their 2012 revenues by 10 percent or more.
  • Creative companies are more likely to report a commanding market leadership position with a higher market share than competitors.

Articles in The Guardian and the Harvard Business Review both highlight the importance of effective creative leadership in driving innovation.

In the distant past of 2010, a survey of 1,541 CEOs found that creativity was believed to be the most important leadership quality (IBM, 2010). A lot can change in five years, but it seems that the desire and demand for creativity in the workplace and in business is stronger now than ever before (Zhou and Hoever, 2014).

As the sophistication of businesses, technology and consumers increases, the need to apply creative thinking to business models and strategies is critical for future success. But while creativity is a skill that can be taught to anyone and everyone, many employees are not given the permission, the environment or the autonomy to be creative (Johnson & Bate, 2013).

Research shows that even when organisations hire people who are naturally inclined to be creative, their creative potential will be stifled if the organisational culture does not support creativity. However, the good news is that if an environment supportive to creativity can be established, even employees who are not naturally creative can become so (Zhou and Hoever, 2014).

The findings of many studies have shown that ‘fostering innovation, entrepreneurship and creativity translates into direct and tangible economic outcomes’ (Economist Intelligence Unit, 2014, p.9).

For businesses of all sizes, the challenges brought by technology, complexity and changing customer preferences are driving the need for business model innovation (PwC, 2013).

Many companies are relying on the ‘renovation’ of existing products and services to generate revenue, and ‘many are unclear how to drive value from their innovation efforts’ (Koetzier & Alon, 2012, p.10).

‘We assume that 50% of revenue in five years’ time must come from sources that do not exist today’ (Ernst & Young, 2014)