by Connie Williams

“I am not that creative”.  Over the years I have heard this from many people, who assume creativity is one of those things that you either have (it is in your nature) or not.

It turns out that creativity is one of those things that is very much influenced by Nurture.  Yes, some people, for whatever reason are more creative by nature.  In a famous study, NASA hired Dr. George Land and Dr. Beth Jarman to develop a test to measure creative potential for NASA’s scientists and engineers.  After doing a lot of research on creativity, the test they developed measured divergent thinking – the ability to come up with lots of ideas to solve a particular problem.  After successful results for NASA, they continued to consider the question, “where does creativity come from?”

Land and Jarman were stunned when they decided to give the same test to children.  At the age of 4-5, 98% of children were rated as creative geniuses.  Five years later they gave the test to the same children and only 30% were now rated as creative geniuses.  At 15 years old only 12% qualified and among 280,000 adults that were tested only 2% qualified.  “What we have concluded,” wrote Land, “is that non-creative behavior is learned.”

Why does creativity decline as we grow to adulthood?  Well, there are a number of reasons, including school – where there is typically value in “getting the right answer” along with grading systems, fear of being judged, rational mindsets, peer pressure, and more.

The good news is that non-creative behavior can be unlearned…!  Creativity is a great example of a learned skill that can be developed, practiced and exercised, both with immediate benefits and as an ongoing life skill.  Making a habit of being experimental, adventurous, open-minded and non-judgmental opens up new pathways in your imagination.   What we need is to dive into the creativity tool box, learn some new approaches and practice the skills.

So, the answer is very much both nature and nurture – so why not develop those creativity skills?  Creativity improves confidence and resilience in individuals and teams in the face of challenges.  It has a positive effect on both physical and mental health.  In organizations, the ability to creatively solve problems contributes to flexibility and the ability to change rapidly, encouraging more innovative initiatives and improving growth and profitability.

Synecticsworld has been researching creativity for decades and has developed many tools to help develop individual, team and organizational creativity.  On my next piece, I’ll focus on some of the ways to nurture new creativity skills.  Whether you are an individual who would like to improve your personal creativity or a team member or large organization who wants more innovative outcomes, there is a program for you! For more information on a wide variety of both remote and in person training options, contact us or click on

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