Creativity: The Catalyst for Change (In Singapore’s Context)

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Being creative is an understated asset in life. Growing up, we often shift our focus away from it. However, the very moment we walk outside and take a good look around us, we are greeted with a plethora of creative developments that have contributed to a greater level of efficiency to aid our daily activities.

Take for example, our traditional delivery service which was once previously limited to the mailing of letters and parcels reserved for B2Bs, has now become a popular platform allowing a great multitude of individuals to order groceries, skincare and other products at the mere touch of their fingertips.

The importance and efficiency was truly recognised during the worldwide pandemic we faced earlier this year. This creative innovation (one of plenty) exemplifies how a remarkable amount of time can be saved. Furthermore, it offers convenience and safety in the best way. In essence, creativity leads to innovation which eventually results in greater productivity. 

With the emergence of new platforms and practices today, there is undeniably a lot of ‘noise’ from competing companies which have in turn, significantly reduced customers’ receptiveness to any particular product. This is also another reason why companies are constantly challenged to find creative ways to engage their customers and procure their loyalty in order to stay alive and running or otherwise, run the risk of becoming obsolete.

In essence, creativity leads to innovation which eventually results in greater productivity. 

Is Singapore Evolving Enough To Accommodate Creativity?

According to Bloomberg’s Innovation Index (2018), Singapore was ranked as the third most innovative city in the world. It is thus no surprise that many companies are focusing on creative solutions and innovation as a strategy to stand out amongst growing competition. This has also contributed to a booming start-up scene in Singapore where companies such as Ninja Van, RedMart and Carousell are provided with an ideal environment to succeed and expand their business ventures.

scholarship guide catalyst for change

Creativity thrives in an open culture where an exchange of ideas, individuality, and divergence is encouraged. This gives room for different perspectives to be exchanged, thereby creating a future filled with possibilities found outside the box. Willingness to take risks without the fear of failure is another key factor for an innovative culture to flourish. In a merit-based society like Singapore, this could be a challenge. However, in order to remain relevant globally, Singapore has recognised its importance and has gradually taken small steps to welcome with open arms, a creative future in both the business and academic spheres. 

In the business world, Singapore has established itself as a hub for innovation and research and development. Singapore is fondly referred to as Asia’s innovative hub. It is passionately pursuing its vision to become a leading testbed where companies are embraced as they experiment new solutions for global markets.

As much as this may all seem daunting to some companies who are afraid to take risks and manage potential losses, it is also exciting to behold the limitless opportunities that are in sight in our near future. Some of the creative innovations that are being brought to the market today are autonomous vehicles (Volvo), virtual reality glasses (Microsoft) and the use of artificial intelligence and robotics in healthcare, to name a few. 

We also see our government’s commitment to Research and Development reflected through institutions such as A*STAR. According to an EDB Singapore (in partnership with Forbes) article written in 2018, “The government’s Research, Innovation and Enterprise Plan (RIE 2020), has targeted S$19 billion to be invested in the country’s R&D capabilities, enterprise innovation and entrepreneurship over the next five years.”

Furthermore, we also see our government’s hand in resources allocation to support the technology-driven startup ecosystem found predominantly in Block 71, 73 and 79. Comprising of start-ups, accelerators and venture capitalists, this close-knit community has expanded to include JTC LaunchPad at One North, which is dedicated to nurturing innovations and an entrepreneurial spirit. Its unique location near public and private research institutes and tertiary institutions further promote greater cohesion between academia and industry.

Educating for Innovation

Looking from an academic perspective, over the years, our Ministry of Education (MOE) has placed greater importance and emphasis on creativity by tweaking its curriculum to encompass a more ‘‘holistic” approach to education. Through a series of projects and competitions, students (as early on in primary school) are encouraged to exercise their right brain and are rewarded in the process.

These incentives work well to motivate students to adopt an innovative approach in life. Teachers have also adopted creative pedagogy practices to teach syllabus and consistently provide opportunities for greater inventiveness in the classroom. 

Our future is changing, and we must invest in the right skills for the jobs of tomorrow. To drive transformation successfully, we must, first and foremost, understand the importance of diversity and inclusivity in ideas and perspectives to propel us forward.

Creativity remains a key catalyst for change, and it is shifting rapidly from being a “good to have” skill to becoming an essential qualification in the job market. Recognising and honing this skill will prepare students and working professionals to not only continue to stay relevant, but also become indispensable employees in the next decade and more.