Brands like Blockbuster and Kodak might feel like blasts from the past, but they really are valuable case studies in how a business can fizzle and die seemingly overnight. Digital Disruption is claiming the lives of several enterprises who once enjoyed top-of-their-field status, while competitors such as Netflix or Polaroid have had the creative vision to plan for and dominate a new world order. With digital continuing to globally disrupt so many markets, a lack of an ability to demonstrate creative innovation is bound to be the future death of other brands as well, if they don’t learn by example and take action now.
According to Adobe and Forrester Consulting, 82% of companies believe that creativity is strongly connected to business results and that companies who create a working environment around creative thinking outperform their rivals in revenue growth, market share, and competitive leadership. Management consultancies are now adding creative agencies to their portfolios – for example, Accenture’s pledged with its recent high-profile purchase of creative agency, Karmarama, to create a “new industry powerhouse.”
As discussed in my recent M&M Global column, the world is changing at such a blistering pace that businesses without creativity at their core are doomed. We are in the knowledge era, where creativity is vital to survival, and businesses today must generate, embrace and execute new ideas in order to sustain competitive advantage. To fuel and successfully implement business strategies requires creativity, combined with a creatively-empowered workforce. When that is coupled with strong data and sound communication, companies are better prepared to manage volatility, change and unpredictability.
Many falsely assume that creativity is an innate skill that cannot be taught, or that creativity only occurs by a chance moment of inspiration so cannot be managed. These assumptions are simply not true. I believe that we are born creative, that it can be trained, built up and encouraged, and that much like a muscle – the more we work it the stronger it becomes.
A manager must initially create the right conditions, nurturing the workforce to grow more confident in their creativity. It can be difficult to get the most in terms of creativity out of your workforce, given the deadline-driven, time pressured nature of today’s business environment. We must give a team time and space, alongside a clear brief, objectives, insights and boundaries, without letting pressure steal it away. To capture and implement these ideas is the point in which creative ideas become strategy.
Transparency in the creative process is often enough motivation to spur on team members, where employees can see how creative ideas are fuelling strategy. Strategyblocks enables a full organizational view of the strategic plan, meaning employees can begin to spot and share connections between ideas, build on others, and contribute using their personal passions and knowledge. These contributors build their creative confidence and spread the culture of innovation across the entire organization.
We’ve long been talking about creativity being able to come from anywhere in an organization, but few companies are truly living this insight. Tomorrow’s winning brands will be those that embrace a genuinely creative, collaborative culture, where innovation fertilizes strategy. The losers will end up six feet under with the brands that failed to innovate, just like the Blockbusters and Kodaks of yesteryear.