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.