The Creativity Gap – What Research Is Telling Us About Creating Now

Are people living up to their creative potential? In a word, no.

This week, Adobe released global research in a State of Create report to uncover how people feel about their own creativity as well as its role in the economy, society, the workplace and our educational institutions.  The findings were enlightening.  A few highlights from the data:

  • 8 in 10 feel that unlocking creativity is critical to economic growth
  • Only 1 in 4 believe they are living up to their own creative potential
  • 75% said they are under growing pressure to be productive rather than creative at work
  • More than half feel creativity is being stifled by the education system – and that feeling rises to 70% in the US
  • Only about half of Americans would describe themselves as creative (global average is even lower at 39%)

We call this separation between the importance and the day-to-day reality of creativity the “creativity gap.”  That gap is pretty sobering.

So, what can we do to close the creativity gap?  First, we need to make time for creativity as well as provide the necessary technology tools and training.   Productivity and creativity should not be mutually exclusive – we all need to find ways to create at work, rather than considering it a weekend hobby or luxury for those with more time.  As for our educational institutions, they need to foster the growth of the entire child, with more opportunities to participate in arts programs and foster “out of the box” creative thinking.  Most importantly, we all need to think of creativity more broadly – it’s not just the domain of professional designers or artists.  It’s a critical capability in a successful society and one that is in all of us.

Please check out the full report online, and let me know what you think either in the comments section or on Twitter (@alewnes).


  1. Gagandeep Singh

    Nice article. We don’t only have to read this but to act upon it. There is a nice saying “Be the change that you wish to see in the world”. All companies can’t be creative 100% but what they can do is

    Distribute some of the creative part to non-creative side of the business and make sure it is distributing normally, OR
    Give their employee free time to do whatever they think creative.

    I knew the feeling of desperation this “Creative Gap” creates and that’s needs to be fulfilled.

  2. Kenton Sweckard

    Very Interesting but I believe it, as the creativity gets stifled in its worth. Majority of creative jobs are freelance. Thus not as much money in this field to start, and making money from the digital art can be as tricky as getting in a gallery. Thus we are widening the gap, and stifling creativity. Always the need for production hampers this further with the employers needs and wants for a polished production that can as well stifle the creativity. There are ways to open creativity up more and that has to be finding a field where you have some creative breathing room to bring more of what you have to offer to the table and the time to explore that as well.

  3. Elvin Turner

    I’m interested that being creative and being productive are positioned as an opposite choice. I guess it depends on whether you think of productivity as a volume activity or more around the amount of value being created.

  4. Shirley J. Houston

    As an artist, I may be bias, but I strongly feel that creativity in any environment could only increase the quality of work or life in general and make for a much more happy society.

  5. Patrick Donohue

    It has been proven, that we are all born as artists and are all wonderfully gifted with creativity wired-in upon entering the world at birth. The world we live in, the dominant culture, the education system and our families determine if that is valued, honored and enhanced or not.

    Then there is the world of work. There is a reason they call it work.

    Have you ever noticed that artists, authors and musicians never desire to retire. Those blessed with the chance to keep their creativity never want to let it go. It would be like loosing an arm or leg.

    In corporations around the globe, hidden pools of creativity lurk below the surface. Employers rarely know the full extent of the untaped talent easily within their reach. Most truly undervalue their employees. Too bad, it is their loss. They say to get gold, one must mine it. So it is with this. If you don’t look, you wont find.

    Most people play down their potential, thinking themselves not creative and thus are unwilling to explore that side of themselves. Stanford has a cure for this and they should spread it around.

    I was just talking to a Japanese friend of mine today about this very subject. He said the Chinese are a noble people, industrious but ” not coming up with original ideas very much. United States, much smaller population yet coming up with many many more original ideas. Ya and Japanese same thing. Just come up with a little bit of original idea. Interesting both the same that way.”

    I said, “It must be something about the cultures of both societies that cause this to be so. I wonder what it is?”

    Is there an anthropologist in the House?

    Further, if you are a parent and you value creativity, send your child to a Waldorf school, and whatever you do don’t let them watch TV or use a computer until at least high school. Those will hinder their creative development. I know a kid who went to a Waldorf school, never watched TV or saw a computer until his freshman year in college. He now is a computer geek working at Pixar.

Ann Lewnes, Executive Vice President and CMO

Ann watched too much TV as a kid. This admission and her passion for creativity and media still drive her as Adobe’s CMO and are reflected in Adobe’s groundbreaking marketing campaigns. Creativity is only half the equation, as under Ann’s leadership, Adobe’s marketing organization has pioneered the shift to digital — deploying a comprehensive set of digital marketing solutions, establishing an insight-driven culture, and setting a template for marketing’s strategic impact on business. Prior to Adobe, Ann spent 20 years building the Intel brand as a VP of Marketing. Ann serves on the boards of Mattel and the Ad Council. In 2015, Ad Age named Ann to The Creativity 50, a list honoring the most creative people of the year. Despite all this, she still watches too much TV. If Ann were not at Adobe, she’d be a roadie for a band.

Ann Lewnes, Executive Vice President and CMO