Q: Is creatively inherent or a learned skill?

A: My father who was a music teacher would say that some people are born with perfect pitch and some are not, but anyone can learn how to play an instrument.

My father also said: You can teach anyone to play an instrument but the only way to make someone a musician is through inspiration.”

It is the same with creativity.

Some are born more prone to be creative than others, but EVERYONE can learn how to become much more creative. And the best way to learn that is to be inspired by other creative people.

Q: At the recent ASFA Conference, the audience/delegates indicated they didn’t think enough was being done to promote creativity in their organisations. How can organisations do more to promote creativity?

A: Well the good news with the bad news is that only 2 per cent think that companies are doing enough to develop the creativity of its staff which means almost everyone thinks they are not doing enough – which means it is not hard to be a bit better than most…

But I actually think it is more important that people take responsibility to develop their own creativity. Do not outsource that responsibility to the employer. Having a creative mindset is important in ALL aspects of life – so prioritise learning how to become more creative. You will not only succeed better at work – but in life.

But to answer the question: What can companies do? Help the top management develop their own creativity and make sure that the rest of the organisation gets to hear the stories of top management doing creative things. People are inspired by stories.

Q: Why is creativity important for leadership?

A: The list of companies that have disappeared have one thing in common: They did not change with the times.

The list of companies that thrive have one thing in common: They see (or saw) opportunities that others did not.

Creativity is not “a nice to have” it is a “need to have”.

Fredrik Härén speaking at the 2019 ASFA Conference in Melbourne, AustraliaFredrik Härén speaking at the 2019 ASFA Conference in Melbourne, Australia

Q: How would you describe creative leadership?

A: Creative Leadership can be seen from three perspectives:

  1. Leading by example!
    By being a leader who leads in a creative way.
    A role model.
  2. Leading into new directions
    A leader who uses creativity to take the company/group into a different/better direction.
    A visionary.
  3. Being a leader of creativity
    Being someone who priorities spending time and resources to make sure that the person that he/she leads is reaching their full creative potential.
    An inspiration.

Q: How does our current age of high speed technological change impact creativity?

A: It makes it much easier to find inspiration and answers to our questions.

Q: Having travelled to over 100 countries studying creativity (which we are grateful includes our ASFA Conference in Melbourne), did you notice anything distinctive about Australians when it comes to creativity?

A: For my new book “The World of Creativity” I am trying to understand how creativity is different in different countries/cultures. When it comes to Australia I am not ready with that chapter yet 😉 BUT I do think there is something in the Australian psyche when it comes to not being afraid. (Perhaps it is all the dangerous animals that you are forced to grow up with…)

I think this “I am not afraid mentality” is really good for creativity. Because if you are going to go into unknown territory you cannot be too afraid, at least not afraid of the unknown.

Q: You’ve been to many conferences around the world, were there any elements of the ASFA Conference that set it apart?

A: I am not saying this to be nice to you, but I have spoken at 2000+ conferences over the last 20+ years and the ASFA Conference is in the 0.1 per cent of the best organised conferences I have ever spoken at.

I love the mix of content, the mix of rooms (big rooms, small, round stage etc) I loved the Dialogue in the Dark session. I loved how well the networking area worked. How many of the speakers interacted with the audience after the speeches. How ASFA feels like the natural meeting place for the Super industry in Australia.

Fredrik Härén speaking at the 2019 ASFA Conference in Melbourne, AustraliaFredrik Härén speaking at the 2019 ASFA Conference in Melbourne, Australia

Fredrik Härén is the author of ten books, including “The Idea Book” which was included in “the 100 best business books of all time”. He blogs on creativity at www.TheWorldOfCreativity.com.