The Creativity Gap: Why You And Your Company Are Falling Short

More and more people believe creativity is key to economic growth. But most workplaces, apparently, don’t let employees flex their creative muscles. So says a new study that reflects a gap between creative ideals and reality.

At Fast Company, we believe that creativity is not just the backbone of innovation—it also just makes going to work every day that much more fun. Which is why the results of a new study from Adobe are, shall we say, a bit troubling.

The study, called "State of Create," found that eight in 10 people believe that creativity is critical to economic growth. But it also found that only one in four people feel like they are living up to their own creative potential. And 75% of respondents said they feel like their employers put more pressure on them to be productive than to be creative.

Click to zoom.

The study surveyed 5,000 adults in the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, and Japan. Respondents said that they spent only a quarter of their time at work creating and feel that more than 40% of their ability to create remains untapped.

Among the study’s other findings were the belief that Japan is actually the most creative country in the world (except among Americans who thought the U.S. was the most creative). The respondents also said Tokyo is the most creative city, with New York in second place.

Reflecting their national culture, perhaps, Americans were most worried about the fact that they were not living up to their creative potential, while Germans, also perhaps in line with their national culture, were the least perturbed.

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  • Mr. Ketter

    Historically most C level execs are not creative types. They are hired by companies that are even less creative. This is why many of the fast rising tech companies are headed by art majors. OK I made that last part up. But you will be hard pressed to find creativity in any of the well established old guard companies like IBM. I must disagree with the assertion that the disparity is geographical. I believe the creativity gap to be more generational. That would explain why Japan, with its seemingly endless supply of 18 year old geniuses, appears to be the most creative. My company's creativity comes more from my many years as a musician and songwriter than my country of origin.

  • Kevin Soon

    "I believe the creativity gap to be more generational." 

    I agree. Creativity in specific mediums (namely dot-com), can suffer immensely from generational dissonance. Keeping up with best practices moving forward (UI, UX, etc.) is already enough of a challenge to plenty of organizations out there. Trying to wrap the concepts of harmony between pure creativity, design, and technology is  an entirely multi-faceted monster when it comes to selling ideas to Product Managers and C-levels alike. I can only speak from a standpoint where creative does not and will not hold the ultimate word over business requirements that dilute the potential of better creativity across the board.

  • ConsultantsMind

    ‎Appears that much of this conversation hinges on the concept of creativity.  I content that a lot of workplace creativity occurs in the cracks and white spaces that is both daily and subtle. 

    So as to not diminish the opportunity each of us has to make a difference where we are, I am reminded of a quote from John Updike (multiple Pulitzer Prize winning novelist): "Any activity becomes
    creative when the doer cares about doing it right or better."

  • vincentacademy

    I agree with Anita, I think different companies would be seen with different creative insight. I mean, a creative agency for one would have to be creative in some way.

    But I personally think that people think of "creativity" differently. For many, I believe is that they believe "creativity" is some sort of art such as painting, writing, drawing, etc... but yet we are all somewhat creative in one way or another in our respective fields. For example, I do programming, it's probably perceived as one of those "less creative" fields. Yet if you're in my field, you'll see programmers using a variety of methods to solve a problem = creative programming

  • Anita Loomba

    Do you think this would differ based on the company-type? Example: I would think that agencies would score really high in creativity.

    It's good to see that 80% of people think creativity is critical to economic growth. This could be largely because of how dependent we are on technology, making it vital for companies to creatively approach marketing, etc.