One of AIGA’s roles is to demonstrate the value effective design brings to business and society. In our work with various business advocacy groups, we look for studies that provide evidence of how important design is to business, from the business world’s perspective. Although it is not a new study, I recently came across research published by The Conference Board and Americans for the Arts, in partnership with the American Association of School Administrators, which surveyed public school superintendents and American business executives to identify and compare how they define and cultivate creativity. The findings are ones that designers might use to reinforce their own case for the value of professional design services.
“Innovation is crucial to competition, and creativity is
integral to innovation,” reads the report, which aims to ask and answer the question of how aligned are schools and business leaders in achieving “creative readiness” in the U.S. workforce. In a survey conducted in November 2007, U.S. employers rated “innovation/creativity”
among the top five skills that will increase in importance over the next five
years—culminating now—and “stimulating innovation/creativity and enabling entrepreneurship” are
among the top 10 challenges facing CEOs in the United States.
This survey and its associated report, “Ready to Innovate“ (PDF), were
published in 2008, yet the results are just as relevant today, since the economy has been poised to grow since then and companies
continue to seek the accelerator for innovation and growth.
The results are important because they reinforce what AIGA
has been advocating in recent years: That the opportunity for design and
designers has never been greater. Evidence that both the business
and design sectors are seizing that opportunity and using creativity to initiate
innovation and economic growth remains elusive, however.
Overwhelmingly, both the superintendents of schools who
educate future workers and the employers who hire them agreed that creativity is increasingly important in
U.S. workplaces, and that arts training—and, to a lesser degree, communications
studies—are crucial to developing creativity.
Some salient points in the report can influence the way
designers position themselves for jobs:
Employers look for employees who reinforce their creativity by showing
certain characteristics in the selection process:
Hard economic times
force us all to be more creative with less. By focusing on these
characteristics throughout the hiring process, candidates who are able to demonstrate their
creativity and innovation-generating capabilities may rise above the pack.
As always, we want to hear your perspective. What have your
experiences been recently in the hiring process—either as a candidate or
Richard Grefé is the executive director of AIGA, the professional association for design. While guiding all of AIGA’s activities, his most significant contributions are in strategy, formulating new initiatives to enhance the competitive success of designers
and advocating the value of design to business, government and the public.
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