Career Design Lab

Radical career creativity

Cultivating creativity is key to adaptability and meaning amidst uncertainty.

Three people ideating around a table at a workshop

Radical creativity is one of Aalto University’s cross-cutting approaches to help us shape a sustainable future. It is the complex nature of our global challenges that requires radically different thinking. The same need for creativity and rethinking applies to our work and careers.

A linear approach of matching aptitudes to a career no longer works well in practice. As tracks disappear and identities shift, we need to shape our paths as we go. Creativity helps us question taken-for-granted assumptions about careers and design paths that are closely aligned with our values and identities.   

How to use creativity in your career

While everyone is creative, we need practices and tools to support our efforts in designing the future. At the university, radical creativity is supported by building an experimental culture. In your work and career, creativity is an approach you can practice. You can use the following design principles as tools:  


Choosing a new job or career direction is essentially problem-solving. In design, the problem definition is considered the most important stage of the process. In your own career design, this calls for creative questioning of your aspirations and assumptions. It takes radical creativity to unlearn and rethink the narratives our culture feeds us as to what our careers should be like.


One common, but flawed, assumption about careers is that there is one perfect solution out there. This often causes unnecessary worry and indecision. A creative approach involves generating a lot of ideas to help you imagine many possible paths. It also allows you to tap into your intuition to imagine alternatives that resonate with your deeper values and needs.


No amount of daydreaming or googling will help you decide whether an idea will actually work for you in practice. You need to gain direct experience and engage with people to feel your way forward. Test your idea first and if it works, go do it – until you are ready to experiment with something new again.

Getting comfortable with “not knowing”

Cultivating creativity is key to adaptability and meaning amidst all the uncertainty. Yet, it is very human to worry about the future and hesitate in taking the next steps. Getting comfortable with not knowing is hard but the fact that the future is uncertain can also work in our favor. It is always possible to think again.  

As Too-Ticky, a Tove Jansson character, says:

“All things are so very uncertain and that is exactly what makes me feel reassured.”

kirsi lapointe

Blog writer

Kirsi LaPointe, D.Sc., Senior Advisor

Kirsi develops and facilitates new career programs and resources for Aalto University students, alumni and teachers based on the principles of career design and life-wide learning. Her research and expertise focus on career identity, transitions and meaningful work, and she is particularly interested in creative and narrative approaches to understanding and facilitating fulfilling and sustainable careers.

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