Finding your creative mojo! Thoughts on Creativity World Forum day 2
The Creativity World Forum 2014 proved to be a great experience, leaving us feeling inspired and connected! Day 2 approached innovation by zooming in on the creative mindset: Tom Kelley, Debra Kaye, Ricardo Semler and other thought leaders took the focus away from innovation processes and emphasized the creative power of individuals, both from within and from outside the organization! And Robin Chase showed us why this means that the future belongs to the sharing and collaboration economy!
Tom Kelley, one of the global experts on innovation and design thinking, defined creative people as those possessing a combination of creative confidence and the courage to act. And a study on creativity shows that, while 8 in 10 people feel that unlocking creativity is critical to economic growth, only a minority (1 in 4) believes being creative themselves. Which means that most organizations innovate without tapping into the 75% of their potential!
The starting point for building creative confidence is paying a close and attentive look at people, which Tom calls empathy. To get to big insights, he encourages us to step away from our desks and the online surveys: “Aha moments are triggered not by observing the millions, but by seeing the ones”.
Staying true to the message of his talk, he empathized with Jill Levinsohn, one of the employees at IDEO. Jill did not think of herself as being creative as she did not have what is generally considered a ‘creative’ job. What she did have, however, were a Pinterest account and a passion for cooking; and once she pinned a picture of some very special Piñata cookies she had made. This picture captured people’s imagination and went viral, so her Pinterest account skyrocketed to over 1.8 mil followers. This has shaken Jill’s belief system, who thinks of herself now as having a creative eye, as a content curator.
Debra Kaye, a global innovation and trends expert, believes that major innovation doesn’t have to be technology intensive – you just need to look into how you can solve current problems. She advises to stay away from the ‘trends seduction’, as this is ephemeral and can quickly become a crowded space. Innovation should focus on a meaningful benefit instead.
Yes, we can – but why do it?
In the ongoing discussion on how to stimulate creativity, Ricardo Semler asked us to take a step back and think about ‘what are we doing this for’ in the first place. Ricardo has a tradition of being disruptive. He has created one of the world’s most unusual and very successful organizations, Semco, by introducing a radical form of participatory management: the workers set their own salary and productivity targets and select their managers.
He argues that innovation doesn’t necessarily require complex processes, but rather small groups of empowered employees. Structured approaches can bring little disruptive innovation; he uses the example of the automotive industry. 90 years later from Ford’s model T and some US$26 billion invested in research, cars these days function according to the very same principles as then (four wheels, a steering wheel, a clutch).
Bring in the collaboration economy
Debra Kaye reminded us that, against our traditional thinking, there is 2 to 3 times more innovation from consumers than there is from the industry.
Robin Chase, founder of Zipcar and one of the pioneers of the collaboration economy, took things even further: we no longer need to talk about consumers, but about co-creators or peer collaborators. These peers can and are willing to make use of their local knowledge, creativity, network of trusted contacts and excess capacity. And when their efforts can be brought together on a platform, which brings a consistent, standardized approach and brand promise, together with deep sector knowledge, amazing things can happen!
Airbnb, for example, since its foundation in 2008, has grown exponentially to become the biggest hotel network: as many as 425,000 people now stay in Airbnb-listed homes on a peak night.
Not all ideas have to be great, by the way: Steven Levitt, author of Freakonomics, confessed that his book was the result of spending 1h every day, for 10 years, on finding good ideas. It resulted in only 2 good ideas a year, which was enough for a life-changing book!
How is your creative confidence today? Do you find the stamina to bring new ideas to the table and make innovation happen?