According to a recent Deloitte survey of Millennials (people born from 1982 onwards):

78% of them believe that innovation is key to business growth and

62% pinpointed creativity as the characteristic that will mark out future innovators.

Yet only 26% of them feel that business leaders are doing enough to encourage practices that foster innovation and, in particular, idea sharing.

With this in mind I was curious to explore the findings in a recent workshop I conducted with (mainly) a group of Millennials at a consumer goods company.

I asked them to tell me when they feel they are at their most creative.

Some of the answers they gave were:

– on holiday or on the weekend;

– at the beach;

– when they feel relaxed;

– just before they fall asleep

– first thing in the morning;

– when their mind is distracted by another activity – for example when they are at the gym

– going for a walk.

What was most interesting to me was that no one said that they felt creative at work.

This is an important insight – leaders want their team to be more creative and Millennials say that creativity is important, but they do not believe they can be creative at work.

I asked them a follow up question: What stops you being creative at work?

Some of the answers they gave to this question were:

– limited time;

– competing priorities;

– feel stressed and under pressure;

– constantly interrupted; not motivated or interested;

– or they don’t agree with the goal.

I am the first to admit this is not a scientific sample, but the following might shed some light on this wasted opportunity.

Leadership actions to harness the creativity of Millennials:

– Explain the importance of a particular goal. This builds greater transparency and trust.

–  Even better create a cause they believe in and can follow.

– Agree the ‘what’ (the goals and objectives) but leave the ‘how’ to the team. This will build more engagement and allow some freedom of action.

– Constantly talk about the need for greater creativity and innovation.

– Set yourself up as a role model and demonstrate a greater openness and receptivity to new ideas.

– Encourage greater collaboration.

– Establish a millennial project team and give them real responsibility, a challenge, budget and time-frame and watch them go.

– Encourage them to Blitz problems.


In short, our young have amazing ideas and they see the world differently.

If I was a corporate leader, I would be desperate to hear the views of my younger team.

I am sure I would learn something from them just like they could learn from me.


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