When considering their career path and professional development, many people focus on concrete domains and technologies. If you are a Software Developer, you might explore the latest development in the industry, emerging programming languages and architectures, market trends, and maybe some new advancements in research like Quantum Programming. If you are an Accountant, you will probably explore the latest legislation, how tax laws are evolving in different countries, and some modern financial models. Each profession has its own driving forces and evolving body of knowledge, and those who wish to be ready for the future will actively look for it, explore it, and maybe even try to affect it.
This domain-specific knowledge and how it evolves are essential to any profession. To find your way through it, to understand it, and eventually utilize it, you need certain skills. Naturally, many of them are specific to the concrete domain. But what we often miss is that as important as they are, domain-specific knowledge and skills are built on an underlying infrastructure — a set of core skills that apply to any domain and any profession. They are so fundamental and universal that they will also apply to occupations and fields we cannot even imagine today. Developing these core skills is not only an essential investment — it is the best investment.
Every couple of years, The World Economic Forum issues a detailed report on The Future of Jobs, based on a survey conducted with senior executives from the largest companies worldwide. The report covers a vast collection of industries in dozens of countries. Its goal is to be a compass to what is ahead of us in terms of professional development. While extensive parts of the report cover domain-specific skills and disciplines, an essential part of the insights is focused on that underlying infrastructure — the universal skills that can help us in our future professional path. Being as detailed as it is, the report does highlight nuances between various industries and countries. At the same time, its extensive scope provides valuable insights on a global and universal scale. In other words, there are recurrent patterns and supporting data that lead to some clear conclusions on what we should focus on regardless of our profession, industry, or geographical location.
Executive summary: we should all invest in our Creativity.
The Universal Impact of Creativity
A first quick look at the most quoted insight from the WEF report results in one remarkable insight: Problem-Solving dominates the list of most needed skills of 2025. Out of the top 5 needed skills, four are tagged as Problem-Solving skills. On a deeper look, you will find Creativity mentioned explicitly as the fifth most needed skill. This is more or less consistent with the previous WEF reports, and it is interesting to see what skills are ranked lower on this list. Leadership, service orientation, and even emotional intelligence, although unarguably important, are at a lower priority than Problem-Solving in general and Creativity (as defined in the survey) in particular.
What is even more interesting is how Creativity in the broader sense fuels all Problem-Solving skills. Innovation, Ideation, Critical Thinking, and Complex Problem-Solving, strongly depend on our Core Creativity Functions. The Creativity Operating System affects at least 5 out of the Top 10 Skills. I would argue it is also tightly connected to Leadership, Flexibility, and Active Learning, but that’s for another post.
Experience, Observe, Wonder, Fuse, and Imagine are the enablers of all Problem-Solving skills. You can learn some specific techniques that will help you ideate, innovate, and apply critical thinking. But techniques alone will not make a significant impact without the right creative setup. These skills cannot be just switched on and then turned off. You need to make them an integral part of your life. You need to turn them into habits by enhancing your Creativity Operating System.
Take, for example, Critical Thinking and Analysis (ranked 4 on the Top 10 Skills). You can try to learn and apply some mechanical techniques to address this need. But at a more fundamental level, the Wonder Function could be the real game-changer. When you naturally Wonder — when it is an integral part of anything you do — Critical Thinking also becomes natural. Wonder includes thinking in questions, challenging assumptions, and breaking false boundaries — all are vital ingredients in any Critical Thinking activity. Sure, you can try applying these tools on demand. But when you lead a wonder-full life, you don’t need to. Instead of a work-skill, you develop Wonder as a life-skill.
The same applies to all five Core Creativity Functions and the two Powerup Functions: Play and Evolve. The entire Creativity Operating System dominates at least 50% of the Top 10 Skills listed in the WEF report and has an additional impact on many of the other skills.
The great thing about the impact your Creativity Functions have on your professional future is its universal impact. Whether you are a Software Developer, a CEO, an Accountant, a Lawyer, or a Data Analyst, your Creativity is your best asset. You will surely need to learn and master domain-specific skills, but Creativity is a powerful infrastructure that affects anything you do. Investing in your creative skills is not just a safe bet — it is your best investment.
At least as amazing is the fact that The Creativity Operating System is already programmed in your brain. You are designed to be creative. Mastering your Creativity is more like getting back in shape than learning a new skillset. And this is where the c.os model meets The Future of Jobs.
The Future Starts Now
Surveys as The Future of Jobs are often perceived as academic or relevant only to decision-makers. Nothing can be farther than the truth.
The place Creativity takes in the 2020 survey, as well as in the ones preceding it, is indisputable. It also perfectly matches our intuition. Anyone who witness (or experience) trends as increased automation, distributed work, and the ever-growing complexity of business and technological challenges, understands that Creativity is more than just an edge — it is a necessity. In that sense, the results of the WEF report are not surprising. Now, it is up to us — each and every one of us — to turn these insights into an operative plan.
With the c.os model, you can adopt creative habits that will help you lead a creative life. It goes way beyond the scope of your work. Your Creativity will affect everything you do. In the context of this discussion, the point is that no matter how you practice and develop your creative skills — whether you do it at work or in your free time — you are investing in your professional skills. And the more opportunities you find to apply the Core Creativity Practices, the better your chances to succeed regardless of your profession and career path.
If you are an organization leader at any level, you can also significantly impact your team. With or without formal support from the organization, you can affect how the Creativity Functions are applied as part of the activities you are leading. By adopting the c.os model, you can help the team members and the team as a whole become more creative. You can blend the c.os practices in daily and weekly routines, how discussions are held, how projects are managed, and how the team spends their free time. Not only is this an investment in the professional future of the group, but the c.os model will also help you create a healthier, more creative environment with immediate impact on motivation, engagement, and, of course, your business goals.
The Future of Work is your future, and it starts now. Creativity plays a significant role in that future, whatever your profession is. The best thing about it is that you already have what it takes. You just need to get back in shape.