The amount of fear and worry in our daily lives directly affect our ability to be creative. No one has time and energy to play “what if” games when there are threats (real or imagined) to fight off.

To enable a more innovative society, we thus need to remove or reduce the amount of daily fear and worry. From the background stuff like safe sidewalks to bigger things like social security.

I believe that Danish creativity is at least in part fuelled by their amazing social security system. Free education, great public healthcare, and amazing livelihood security (unemployment support, child support etc). All these factor combine to create a culture that is more open to its members following their dreams, changing careers, and trying different things. Because any potential failure is cushioned by the social welfare system. Any potential shortfalls less scary.

In contrast, Singapore’s social welfare system is relatively non-existent. The general approach to one’s life’s work and career is based strongly on the fear of lack. Of not having enough. Because if you don’t make enough to pay your way through life, no one is going to pay for you. Little surprise then that career choices seem to be primarily made on how much money one can make, over other forms of enrichment and meaningfulness.

Richard Florida identified the three T’s required to build a creative, innovative culture – Talent, Technology and Tolerance. I propose we add a fourth T – securi-T (ok – if YOU can think of a better T I want to know!)

(From a post-dinner conversation with Nicolai Okkels, Jan 2010, about differences in Danish and Singaporean societies. With 30cm of snow outside.)