Time published a new poll on how Americans viewed creativity–with remarkable results. The good news is that a huge majority of people believe creativity is very important. Nearly 2/3s believe creativity is more important to their workplace careers than they knew in school. The bad news is that most Americans don’t know how to practice creativity. They value creativity but don’t understand it.
So we need both a lot of social time engaging with trusted friends and colleagues working on challenging new ideas AND alone-time to integrate those thoughts and connect the dots to generate new stuff. It’s not “either-or.”
The five creative competencies of my book Creative Intelligence: Knowledge Mining, Framing, Playing, Making and Pivoting: are skills that can build both creative capacity and creative confidence. This is true for business organizations as well as individuals.
A Manifesto for Making and Markets: Crafts Magazine Applauds Creative Intelligence
Karen Yair has written a wonderful review of my new book, Creative Intelligence, for CRAFTS magazine. You can follow this great UK-based magazine on Twitter at @craftsmagazine but, alas, the publication itself is not yet online. So go directly to the reviewer–Karen Yair’s–own WordPress site for her reasons why Creative Intelligence reflects the importance of making in creativity–and for remaking our around the economic value generated by innovation.
The Return of AG Lafley to P&G: Think Steve Jobs Returning to Apple
Truly high-growth innovative businesses, whether they are startups or big ole behemoths, need both a creative and an operations person at the top. Think Steve Jobs and Tim Cook. When the creative leaves and the operations person takes control, the transition is tricky at best–and often problematic. The narrative frame of Apple now is all about taxes and profits and money–not innovative products, not love and emotion, not aura. OK maybe for shareholders and Wall Street. Not good for those of us who us Apple stuff.
A similar thing has happened at another “Design-led” big company in the US–P&G. At P&G, A.G. Lafley redesigned the company from 200 to 2010, opening up its silos, promoting a business culture of creativity, and ultimately generating 30% of annual profits from new products. He brought in Roger Martin, dean of the Rotman School of Management, to rethink strategy. And Tim Brown from IDEO, to instill Design Thinking. Lafley was replaced by an operations guy who focussed on efficiencies and traditional marketing and the result? Lackluster results.
In my book, Creative Intelligence, I spend time explaining how Lafley used Knowledge Mining, Framing and Pivoting (Scaling) to change the sources of P&G’s profits and boost them to new highs. Lafley got his managers to “Connect + Develop,” to take their deep domains of knowledge in chemistry and product and connect them to new spaces, new ideas. No brainstorming of a 1000 ideas. No funnels and processes of innovation. Just smart people thinking about extending outside their silos to create the new. Then scaling like crazy.
The next big question is whether or not Lafley brings back Claudia Kotscha, the genius who tried to change P&G’s culture and make it more creative.
When people ask me for the one thing they can do to increase their creative capacity, I always tell them to find a creative friend. Being around–and learning from–creative people is the single most important thing you can do to quickly raise your own creative capacities. This is what Marissa Mayer is doing at Yahoo by buying Tumblr. She is bringing 26-year old Tumblr founder David Karp into Yahoo culture, as well as Tumblr’s great young Gen Y staff of social media experts.
Mayer is also buying the NYC innovation magic. There is something great going on in the New York startup scene that is different from the West Coast. Technology continues to dominate the California scene, but culture plays the biggest role in New York. New York focuses on what is meaningful to people, then goes out and finds the technology. It’s about emotion, engagement, connection, happiness. Not geeky technology. Tumblr gets that. It’s in Tumblr’s own culture.
Tumblr also has something else that Mayer should embrace–a new kind of health care system for its employees. Sherpaa was developed by Dr. Jay Parkinson. General Assembly is using it too. https://sherpaa.com
Mayer can use Yahoo’s enormous platform to scale Tumblr. But that’s the easy part. Absorbing its creative culture, giving power to it creative founders are more important. Mayer just went out and found a new creative friend. Now she has to learn to play with him.
I’m giving a brown-bag talk at ecotrust in Portland today. Check out their website because this amazing organization is doing when we all need to do all over the country, all over the world.
When I talk about the rise of a new “Indie Capitalism,” ecotrust is one model of how to do it. Food, Forest, Fish, Entrepreneurialism–Indigenous Insight–they are doing in the Pacific Northwest. Check it out. Join.
Why Windows 8 Is Failing--Microsoft's Dogma of Design Doesn"t Work.
Microsoft has thousands of brilliant researchers, engineers and social scientists who are incredibly creative yet this high-tech company appears to an enormous failure on its hands–the new Windows 8 operating system. There is so much riding on this new OS–it is supposed to “update the personal computer for the tablet era by moving to a new touchscreeen interface based on colourful tiles…” according to the FT.
But people are finding it difficult to use. The familiar “Start” button is gone. The old desktop launch screen is hidden. And the new touchscreen isn’t captivating enough. So both old and new consumers are unhappy.
How could Microsoft spend so much time and money and produce a dud? I’m guessing it has something to do with what I call the “Gift Model of Design.” I’m giving a talk at Ziba in Portland on Thursday and this is what I am going to say
“The oldest Dogma of Design is the Gift Dogma. This model of innovation is the favorite of tech and consumer goods companies–most companies actually. It frames Design as a Gift from really smart people who invent cool stuff and throw it over the wall to consumers. Along the way, in flight, designers and marketers get a brief chance to “humanize” and “prettify” the technology. Maybe do a bit of focus group research at the back end. Then toss it onto the market and if people like it, great. If they don’t, oops.
Now I’ve had engineers and researchers say to me “people don’t know what they want until we give it to them.” And they have a point. Look at the biggest innovations of the past 30 years–Google, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, ZipCar, Instagram, Match.com, Method, and most have come from young entrepreneurs who embody the values and knowledge of their generation. They succeed by mining the existential wants of their generation and give, as gifts, new products, services, experiences to members of their generation. The rest of us, not in their generation, can come along. Or not.
The gift model works OK when you know the person you are giving to, when you embody that person’s culture and values. But as Valentine’s Day shows us, even when you think you know the other person, your chances of success are not all that high. And when you give a gift to a stranger, the odds fall much further. Go outside what you yourself embody and you could be imposing your higher order wants on other people (SLIDE OF SOMEONE WEARING GOOGLE GLASSES). Look at Google Glass. She looks happy and great wearing Google Glass–but there are many people who may be thinking—is she invading my privacy by taping my conversation without asking or is she sharing your image and words with unknown persons? The Gift Dogma can backfire. ”
I’m guessing that the brilliant engineers at Microsoft didn’t immerse themselves enough in the culture of the company’s consumers to see what is truly meaningful to them. Or, if they or the army of social scientists at the company did, the key cultural information was not incorporated in the design of Windows 8.
I suggest a better model of design in my book, Creative Intelligence. Brands are simply the commodification of meaning. You have to understand what is deeply meaningful to consumers to create a successful product. That, apparently, didn’t happen with Windows 8.
Go To The IIT Institute of Design Strategy Conference!
I’ll be speaking on May 15 at one of the smartest design/innovation conferences given–the Design Strategy Conference in Chicago put on by Patrick Whitney at the Institute of Design. If you want new ideas, new concepts and new people to hang with, sign up. It’s two days–May 14 and 15.