Creative Australia – Driving Prosperity for a New Day & Age

creative

Today all over the world creative people, mainly working at computers, are transforming every day lives. Our identity in Australia is developing further from its original base as the home for one of the world’s oldest living cultures. The ideas and values, which transformed the western world during the twentieth century have changed forever. We need to continue to expand creative ways of thinking if we are to drive prosperity for a new day and age.

Our modern world will happen best through ‘economy driven by inventiveness’.

American author Richard Florida’s award winning book The Rise of the Creative Class was first published more than a decade ago now, and raised many an eyebrow at the time. Some described it as ground breaking.

It certainly became the must have book for true leaders of our time, and could be found in many an office. It expounded the theory that ‘creativity’ is intrinsically human.

It doesn’t really care about skin colour, origin or gender, how rich or poor you are or the kind of family you grew up in or even, the one you have created for yourself.

The author, Dr. Richard Florida, a Director of the Martin Prosperity Institute and Professor of Business and Creativity at the University of Toronto and NYU, is also senior editor, The Atlantic Cities.

He previously published several other influential global best sellers and much of what he wrote not only made sense, but also was backed up by some pretty impressive numbers.

During the decade following its initial release we had a whole series of huge earth-shattering events, including 9/11 and the economic meltdown of 2008.

However, while they affected many of our attitudes, Florida reported recently that it did not stop the ‘rise of the creative class’, but actually emboldened it.

Being a ‘Creative’ means much more today than just the term ‘art or artists’, most people’s understanding of the word creative previously.

It’s all about social and economic innovation, inspiration and imagination and very definitely about thinking outside, and beyond the box, much like American entrepreneur, inventor and founder of Apple Steve Jobs (1955-2011) managed to do with such great success.

creativeAs Florida himself reported, when he revised his book in 2012, to bring it up to date for the next decade, ‘by late 2011, the social media site Linked In reported the word most used by its members to describe themselves was ‘creative’[1]

The father of lateral thinking and creativity Maltese physician, author, inventor and consultant Edward de Bono (1933 -) whose revolutionary book (1985) about using coloured hats as metaphors for six distinct ways of approaching the challenges we face said ‘the quality of our future will depend on the quality of our thinking’.

We all certainly have a lot to consider. The Rise of the Creative Class (revised) is all about how we look at all the forces reshaping our economy.

Florida provides us with a blueprint for a provocative new way for us to think about why we live as we do today – and provokes us to think about where we might be heading.

Florida seeks to help us understand how we can value add to both local corporate and community life, as well as contribute towards the global greater good.

Creativity can describe those people in our society who seem to be capable of not only having a long-term vision about an innovative idea or project they have but also a special few it seems have the ability to use other skills to bring their idea to successful fruition.

Steven Jobs was certainly one. He didn’t achieve success though without having to learn, as we all do, some significant lessons in life, including how to best work with people, instead of dictating to them.

Contributing to the society in which we live is an important integral aspect of corporate life. Social responsibility brings with it professional productivity and increasing profit.

Companies large and small are opting into supporting a creative society, cultural development and the environment because it is good for business. And, if it’s good for business it’s good for everybody.

If they don’t, just like during the huge paradigm shift at the end of the Victorian age, they may find themselves floundering behind the proverbial eight ball.

On top of that it is likely they will be seen by today’s more in tune leaders in government, business and community life as contributors rather than having gross negligence.

Florida posed the question would the corporate role extend to following and supporting the journey of the community, much like the traditional role of a family.  In the past traditional family groups were people connected by bloodlines and joined together by, and through marriage.

However all of that has changed in the last few decades.

With so many dysfunctional and divorced families people many have had to embrace a whole a new format for life, one in which executives and managers of many large corporations, institutions and political parties have found it was far better for business or getting the job done if they took over the role previously filled by the ‘caring parent’.

Their employees became part of their own inner big society with all the benefits of a big ‘family’. As such they were given people to talk to when they were feeling down or out of sorts, paid leave for parenting, time off for family matters, as well as medical assistance, including quality psychological counsellors and advisers on tap and many other benefits.

They now live out their lives within in their own separate world, although within a greater city structure.

Companies, institutions and political parties like families in the past, have or are now working out, and writing down codes for their ‘family’. This includes defining what is acceptable and appropriate behaviour, good manners and etiquette and how they actually stress the importance of safeguarding and retaining some old traditions as important and of value to both today’s community and corporate life, while creating new ones.

Executives and managers have been forced to change their attitudes fast from a former hierarchical and dictatorial style, to having to make the sort of concessions fathers and mothers have always to make; putting their children’s needs first and themselves last.

Having and displaying humility, and our humanity is a key ingredient.

Promoting greater efficiency and productivity really matters. If a company, institution or political party succeeds then so does everyone else. It means that individually and as a team or group everyone can contribute to each other’s future.

The bottom line being it is good for not only economic survival but also prosperity.

The approach makes a great deal of sense. After all today we spend most of our lifetime ‘at work’, which is fast becoming a 24/7 occupation for many people. Although it doesn’t much help the people who do not thrive in a big organisation with big profits.

Mostly they are involved in smaller businesses where profit margins are often slimmer and budgets leaner and so the huge pressure can add strains until they grow big enough to cope

If they don’t and the pressure gets to them they will fall by the wayside, which is what happens in small families as well.

The 3T’s, talent, technology and tolerance are today important for economic development and within our city and country structures communities we will all need to become their own diverse, thriving economies based on a concept of ‘vive le difference’.  So we all must change, otherwise we might end up like the people in Brad Pitt’s new movie World War Z, entirely dispensable.

So the new concepts will have their downside no matter how optimistic we are or intend to be.

Florida does acknowledge this fact, but then points out that ‘if the rise of this new order and new social class poses tremendous challenges, it carries the seeds of their resolution as well’, which is so right.

Creativity is also about attitude, which is an essential ingredient.

It’s the old half glass full or half glass empty approach and about how teachers and parents, corporate or otherwise, have shaped our attitudes from our early childhood.

If they are found lacking, then we all need to endeavour to teach ourselves how we can change them.

Creative people generally think of a challenge as a positive process and when they are inspired and motivated,  surge forward taking risks to succeed, while others are held back, mostly because of often-unreasonable or irrational fears

This is something our ancient ancestors understood Sedit qui timuit ne non succederet – He who feared he would not succeed sat still. (For fear of failure, he did nothing.) (Roman lyric poet Horace 65BCE – 8BC)

In a recent article Richard Florida said,

Across most of the advanced nations, greater innovation and greater creativity tend to go hand in hand with less inequality. A new social compact – a Creative Compact – can turn our Creative Economy into a just and Creative Society too, in which prosperity is widely shared. But this won’t happen on its own. While driven and shaped by economic logic, the key institutions and initiatives of the future will be shaped, as they always have, by human agency. For better or for worse, they will be the products of political choices, which turn on political power” Florida said

We all, as global citizens, and residents in our own countries, will need to take a proactive creative approach to solving the many and varied challenges we face if we are to meet the needs of the community at large.

As German born American scientist Albert Einstein said when he won the Nobel Peace Prize for Physics in 1921…for knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

Creative caring in community challenges us all to imagine new ways of thinking and to change our human behaviour in the future.

Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2013

In a newly revised and expanded edition of his now classic book, Florida has brought all of its statistics up to date (and provided a host of new ones), further refined his occupational, demographic, psychological, and economic profile of the Creative Class; incorporated a decade’s worth of his own and his colleagues’ quantitative and qualitative research; and addressed his major critics.

Five completely new chapters cover the global effects of the Creative Class and explore the integral features and factors that shape “quality of place” in our rapidly changing cities and suburbs. Florida delves into the roles played by technology, race, and poverty in perpetuating and exacerbating income inequality and the pervasive influence of class throughout every aspect of society.


[1] National Journal: The Rise of the Creative Class, Revisited by Richard Florida October 23, 2012

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