Why creativity is the new strategic frontier

There is a delicious irony in business at the moment. Many businesses are trying to humanise themselves - but they are hell bent on doing it through robotics and artificial intelligence (AI). Within this environment we should instead being saying Hi to good old H.I. or human intelligence.

And within this specifically I mean creativity. The future of your workforce will lie in being able to apply creativity, imagination, and strategy - the things AI doesn't do so well. Creativity in particular is shaping up to be the new frontier of strategic competitive advantage.

So, here's what I know about how to make creativity happen.

To be successful you need three things to create good ideas;

  1. A really strong understanding of your brand,
  2. A really strong understanding of your customer, and
  3. Lots of tangential stimulus.

You also need two further things to make sure those ideas happen;

  1. The ability to capture the idea, and
  2. The ability to sell the idea.

That's it.

Let's go through it in detail.

1. The Brand:

The most valuable goal any business has in its quest for growth is its brands.

If there was room on the balance sheet for brand it would be far your most valuable asset. All innovation, NPD, and creativity should be looking at building the brand (either internally or externally). Having a solid understanding of the brand at both a tangible and intangible level is the most important fundamental for commercialised creativity.

Know what you are trying to be creative for; building the brand is key.

2. The Consumer:

Genuine consumer understanding is hard to come by, and it's where psychology comes in handy.

Understanding how people interact with your category, and the key triggers and barriers to growth are what good creativity is often trying to either harness or address.

Creativity often acts as as a link between the consumer and where the brand is heading.

3. Stimulus:

You need the ability to forget about the problem and let your mind drift.

Go to uncharted areas of the brain, go to completely unrelated areas and let go. Your brain will bring you back to the problem at hand when you least expect it. Just ensure there is lots of rich and interesting stimulus from parallel worlds to fire new connections. If workshopping creativity think about it like a Christmas tree.

Think about the problem, introduce new stimulus, and leave the problem then come back and make new connections. Keep on getting close then leaving again.

Leave enough time for stimulus to occur.

Now the hard bit; you have the creative idea but nothing happens. There are two key reasons for this: you either didn't capture it or didn't sell it.

a) Capturing the idea:

This sounds crazily simple but ensure you are working in a place where you can really, really easily capture the idea.

Either white boards, postits or flip chart. Anything to ensure the idea is captured. It also helps if you can name the idea and ensure the name is sexy, with a good hook.

Good names carry weight when it comes to making ideas happen.

b) Selling the idea:

This is an underrated skill. Good ideas that don't happen are worthless.

To get the idea through an organisation, think of it as a sapling, as something fragile that can be destroyed. Also remember that if you ask anyone for an opinion on an idea they'll feel obligated to share with you all they know.

Everyone likes to contribute because that's how we derive self-value. So, it's up to you what you choose to share, or if you choose to work by stealth.

Brand, consumer, stimulus, then capture and sell.

Creativity is a rarity in business today. We have all the information in the world at our fingertips which makes us think information and rational thought is all we need. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Creativity is the competitive advantage available to all but embraced by few.



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Why creativity is the new strategic frontier

Adam Ferrier is the founder of THINKERBELL, an agency that creates 'measured magic'. Adam is one of the leading consumer psychologists in Australia, a brand strategist and an authority on Behavioural Economics. He's also the author of “The Advertising Effect” and part of The Australian Creatives’ ‘Power 20’; A regular on the Gruen Transfer and featured on The Project, Celebrity Apprentice and ABC Radio.

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