Innovation is an elusive ideal, prized as the secret ingredient in economic growth, social progress, and technological acceleration. Unlocking American innovation is the first step to “winning the future,” according to President Obama. The stakes are high.

The cross-sector scramble to out-innovate our rivals has given birth to an entire industry, one that breaks innovation down into its composite elements and analyzes them for clues and patterns. Countless case studies, TED talks, and biographies point to a single element – individual creativity – as perhaps the most crucial in sparking innovation.

The connection to innovation has helped transform creativity into a commodity. Soaring demand for creative talent has fueled the growth of the “creativity-promoting sector.” Writer Austin Kleon sums up the sector’s core message in his book Steal Like an Artist:

“Anyone can be creative if they surround themselves with the right influences, play nice, and work hard.”

It’s a philosophy that is appealingly accessible, and it leads to an exciting conclusion: if every individual is born with creative potential, then every individual is an asset in the race for innovation.

Therefore, every company, organization, and institution is doing all that is possible to harness employee creativity. Right?

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