Just Doing the Work Isn’t Enough: Four Ways Creativity Matters to Productivity

Whenever you have no blueprint to tell you in detail what to do, you must work artfully. – Rob Austin and Lee Devin, authors of Artful Making: What Managers Need to Know About How Artist Work

Though most workers let it slip their minds—if they ever think about it at all—Creativity and Productivity have more in common than the six letters both words end with. While the bottom line in the workplace is almost always profit, and you ­can ­achieve productivity without creativity in some cases, your final products are worth far more when you blend creativity with productivity as you work.

It goes without saying that in some fields of endeavor, creativity and productivity inextricably intertwine. But even in the most business-oriented venture, creativity should form part of the recipe (← Click to Tweet). This isn’t always obvious, and in the past, may not have been as necessary as it is in the modern Global Village. So let’s take a look at a few reasons why creativity does matter to your business team’s productivity, no matter what you do—reasons you may not have thought about before.

1. Everything humanity has created was once an idea. From the humblest bolt to the Great Wall of China and the International Space Station, all man-made objects begin as sparks of creativity, and manifest from the combined creativity of teams who had to invent ways to make those items reality. We do this, every one of us, by standing on the shoulders of the hundreds of generations of creators who came before us, and adding our own bricks one-by-one to the edifice of human technology.

The lights that brighten your office and the air conditioners that stave off the heat of summer would not have been possible if their inventors hadn’t been at least as concerned with creativity as productivity. Humans can be productive by gaslight in rooms cooled by open windows; we proved this for hundreds of years. But we wouldn’t be globally interconnected now if we’d left it at that, would we?

2. Creativity helps you compete effectively in the marketplace. Creativity primes competition, both in the marketplace or on the battlefield. Wars, whether purely mercantile or martial, force us into creativity to invent better ways to do things than our opponents. Even at the team level, conflict can prove productive, because it helps us to creatively hash out our differences and bring those differences to life in our work. Furthermore, all marketing and advertisement efforts, our chief means of convincing prospective customers and users to either buy or buy into our creations, are based on creatively, energetically, and enthusiastically presenting our cases better than our competitors.

3. Modern business leaders believe creativity is crucial. In a 2012 Adobe Sparkology Lab survey, 60% of CEOs asked agreed that “Creativity is the most important leadership quality today and in the near future.” They also believe creativity will drive the economy of the future.

Just because you may not lead your team doesn’t mean you should ignore this point. At some level, even if you’re “only” a member of a work team or group, you’re a thought leader and productive trailblazer for your personal, team, and organizational brand. And even if you don’t lead anyone at the moment, you may sometime down the line. No modern leader, whether Anne Mulcahy, Bill Gates, or Vladimir Putin for that matter, started at the top.

Side note: If you’re a business leader, the responsibility of inspiring creativity in your employees falls on your shoulders. One of the best ways to inspire your employees is to not only tell them what to do, but explain why to do it. Bringing your employees on the mission and giving them a sense of purpose opens the door to new and better ideas. I have a short video on the subject you can watch here: Video: Get Employees to be More Productive.

4. A substantial portion of our economic production is now intangible. And who drives all that? People whose jobs require creativity: programmers, graphic designers, social media specialists, web content creators, technical writers, journalists, and entertainers among so many others, not to mention the people who manage them. Even people like me, who serve as keynote speakers, teach business teams how to do their jobs better, act as spokespeople and product ambassadors, and help businesses become more productive: we all use our innate creativity to make our work exciting, memorable, meaningful, and above all, useful.

Creativity Creates Productivity

In a very real sense, we couldn’t be productive without creativity. It’s as essential to us as the air we breathe, and as much a part of us as our blood cells and muscle tissue. Yes, we can produce things without putting our hearts into them. But those things are worth exactly as much as we put into for them. And besides: at some point, someone had to reach into the infinite universe of their creativity to create the template upon which even those uninspired things are made.

Creativity is everything to productivity.

© 2017 Laura Stack.

About Laura Stack, your next keynote speaker:

Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, CPAE is an award-winning keynote speaker, bestselling author, and noted authority on productivity and performance. Funny, engaging, and full of real life strategies that work, Laura will change mindsets and attitudes so your people can maximize productivity, strengthen performance, and get the job done right. Her presentations at corporate events, sales kick-off meetings, and association conferences help audiences improve output, increase speed in execution, and save time in the office. Stack has authored seven books, including her newest work, Doing the Right Things Right: How the Effective Executive Spends Time (Jan. 2016). To have Laura Stack speak at your next event, call 303-471-7401, email Christine@TheProductivityPro.com, or CONTACT US.

Here’s what others are saying:

“Laura Stack’s session with a group of our seasoned operations managers was eye-opening. We all learned new ways to be more productive with the tools we already have. I’ve never seen each of our seasoned, experienced operations managers so engaged in a session. Many of our senior and mid-level leaders were wowed by what they learned and have already begun using the new techniques with their teams.”
—Mary Pawlowski, Learning Design, Piedmont Natural Gas

“What I enjoyed most about your presentation was that it was not only engaging but also practical in application. I’ve read everything from Covey’s system to “Getting Things Done,” and you presented time management in a way that is the easiest I’ve seen to digest and apply. Thank you for helping our system today!”
—John-Reed McDonald, SVP, Field Operations, Pridestaff

“Laura is an incredible speaker who takes practical information to improve productivity and efficiency and makes it interesting and fun! She has a great sense of humor and completely engaged our corporate and sales team. Laura motivated everyone to take steps to make their lives more productive and efficient.
—Molly Johnson, Vice President Domestic Sales, Episciences, Inc.

“Ms. Laura Stack’s program received the highest scores in the 13-year history of the Institute for Management Studies (IMS) in Cleveland! From the 83 participants, the workshop received a perfect 7.0 for “Effectiveness of the Speaker” and 6.8 for “Value of the Content.” Managers especially valued learning about task management, how to minimize interruptions, organizing with Outlook, prioritizing, effectively saying ‘no,’ how to set boundaries, and recognizing self-imposed challenges to time management.”
—Don Gorning, Chair, Institute for Management Studies Cleveland



  1. This is so true oh my god! Nowadays I see so many resumes and profiles on networking sites like LinkedIn talking over and over about how professional they are, how hard-working they are, how much revenue they create, how many achievements they have…

    But so less often do I see people that are willing to place a heavier focus on creativity… It’s very disappointing and I think that showing you are a creative and innovative individual is just as important as talking about all the connections you’ve made and clients you’ve generated.