Creativity must become the New Normal

Creativity must become the New Normal

Everyone’s worried about the economy.

People are worried about rising gas prices and worried about rising food prices.

Young people are worried about jobs - some whether they will have jobs when they graduate from university, others whether they will have better high-paying jobs to transition into as they gain more experience.

Everywhere from the US, to Europe, to Africa and Asia, there is no continent and no population that does not feel vulnerable about their economic future.

We see the anger and frustration spilling out into scenes of demonstrations and sometimes violence against governments and against big business all over the world.

The future used to be something that could be carefully planned by the best brains in business and government, but no more.

Even the best laid plans have to contend with the unpredictability of geo-political tensions and the explosion of technological innovation, converging with the biggest youth generation in the history of the world.

In the past, we spoke about the future in 20 or 50 year blocks of time.

Now, the future is not some unknown space of time out there.

It is happening every day in just about every way.

We’d better get used to it because this is the New Normal.

A world in reset and rebalance

Life as we know it is in not just in transition - I believe we are also in a state of re-set for the world because rules and laws that defined economic power and success of the 20th century are obsolete in the 21st century.

The economies in many countries are in free fall because the whole concept of work and business has changed driven by technological innovation.

Technological innovation has leveled the playing field - giving the kind of access to education and opportunities that are not fenced in by geographic location or economic class.

People can learn anywhere anytime and work anywhere anytime.

The re-set button is on for work life and education must do the same.

Embrace creativity, shed the mental straightjacket

In an unpredictable world, there is one skill that trumps all others. You don’t have to pay an arm and a leg for it, because every human is born with it.

Creativity is embedded in our human DNA. In the 20th century, there was not so much need for it as industrialization and manufacturing were the big economic players. There was no real need for brainpower on the assembly lines.

Today, that has been turned on its head.
Work today is dynamic and mobile and scenarios change in real time.

Today, a small country like Malaysia can compete on an equal footing with giant economies like China or India. Might does not equal economic muscle.

It is time to re-set and re-balance and get comfortable with the New Normal.

That means we have to shed our mental straightjackets, and choose creativity over conformity in our education system.

That means that in order to have outcomes that benefit every young generation from now on, we must seek out the best brains and the best ideas.

This New Normal means that while Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects remain at the crux of our education emphasis, these alone do not shape an innovation economy or society.

To be truly competitive in this New Economy, our New Normal must acknowledge the holistic role of Creativity in STEM subjects as much ‘creative’ subjects such as music, art and design.

Creativity is the ‘magic sauce’ that sparks the innovative spirit. It is as important in groundbreaking medical science, engineering and architectural design as it is in video games, movies and music.

Creativity is the pulse of the competitive spirit. It is the brainpower that makes us want to go further, reach higher, and swing harder.

And finally, creativity unleashes the adventurous spirit. It is about seeking out new frontiers of space, time and imagination so that we exceed our limited vision and limited expectations.

Now, with a more leveled playing field, we have unprecedented opportunity to nurture brainpower that has the ability and the imagination to shape our New Normal.

There’s no going back. The future is here.

tansri photo

About Tan Sri Lim

Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Paduka Dr Lim Kok Wing, the Founder and President of Limkokwing University of Creative Technology, does not fit into any ordinary mould that would describe most entrepreneurs.

His journey has been closely linked with the economic and social development of Malaysia.

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Malaysia has the third largest bond market in Asia ex-Japan after China and Korea, with more than RM400 billion of outstanding issuance, and is the world’s biggest Islamic bond market.

Reuters, July 2009

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