October 1, 2017

Creativity is everyone’s business

It’s time for a change, for businesses everywhere to take equality seriously. No, I’m not talking about diversity or gender bias (and I’m certainly not diminishing their importance), I’m referring to a different kind of subtle discrimination. The domination of knowledge over imagination, of thinking over dreaming. It’s seen in the reverence of data, the preference for all things quantified and dominance of rational arguments supported by a mountain of information. Browse the business book shelves and you’re bombarded with strategies, best-practices and methodologies. Just don’t mention the C word.

Creativity isn’t a dirty word but it certainly knows its place. It’s usually confined to a tight turning circle, boxed in and kept in check. You’ll find it in design studios, in the form of products or packaging. You will see it bubbling up in the marketing department as they work in-house or with agencies to promote and sell whatever it is companies make. Where you’ll rarely come across it is in the boardroom (apart from in presentations). Even brainstorms are conducted more like the The Hunger Games, a competition for attention or validation where he who talks loudest wins. What if creativity had an equal seat at the big table? Right next to business strategy. In a time where every business is talking about transformation – we need the transformative power of the creative mind to truly succeed. The ironic thing is, everyone talks about innovation but ultimately, innovation always starts with imagination. The tech world is full of dreamers. Some dream in code or in circuits but what they do takes an incredible amount of creativity.

This was the starting point that led me to write a very short book called The Axis of Success: Where Business Strategy & Creativity Collide. Mostly aimed at startups and small business entrepreneurs, it is a manifesto for thinking differently. Even Einstein knew the power of creativity and used thought experiments to imagine answers to mind-boggling problems. As I explored the power of imagination, I took a decidedly non-rational journey from theoretical physics, stopping off in the Roman Empire, a detour via mysticism along with some great learnings from big businesses that have used creativity beyond the superficial or traditional ways.

Having a 360-degree vision of business and being able to pivot effortlessly between strategic and creative ways of thinking can help anyone take more control of the forces that impact success. Being able to visualize all the moving parts of your organization, in both concrete and abstract ways, can lead to brilliant solutions to complex problems that the normal approaches might never stumble upon. Get ready to say yes to more mental fluidity, being open-minded for left and right brain equality, allowing yourself to be illogical and irrational from time to time. We are all born with imaginations. Unfortunately, for most people, it is suppressed in favor of more “serious” occupations as we grow up. It might be sleeping but it’s still waiting there. You just need to poke it.

I hope that The Axis of Success will stretch your mind and help you open up to the possibility of more creativity being used in every aspect of business. Knowledge and experience alone isn’t enough, information is a level playing field. But imagination, that’s the true game changer.

E-book available now:

on Amazon Kindle

on Apple iBooks

May 31, 2009

Twitter means business

twitter_introReally interesting and in-depth (i.e. long) article in Time magazine talking about how Twitter is going to change American business. I guess only American business needs changing. Ten topics are explained in detail showing how Twitter can help any company increase sales or connect better with customers. These topics include:

Hyper-Local Marketing – “Since Twitter is still mostly a person-to-person service and not a business-to-business service, it is likely that the Twitter relationships will be with the owners of small shops. With access to customers’ Twitter addresses, these small-shop owners can send them news about special offerings, sales, new merchandise, store hours and events.”

Making Old-World Advertising Work – “Marketers using outdoor ads will have to give Twitter users an incentive to report that they have seen a billboard. A Twitter user who sees an ad for a Toyota (TM) Corolla could be encouraged to send a tweet to the local dealer in exchange for a pint of oil or a T shirt.”

Turning Wall Street on Its Head – “Twitter will become a huge platform for discussing stocks and other financial instruments and will probably replace message boards like the ones at Yahoo! Finance as the preferred method for discussing individual public companies. ”

Making Blogs Count – “Twitter will not only democratize content but also democratize the advertising that goes with content. Each tweet about a piece of content can be attached to a short phrase or sentence from a sponsoring marketer. ”

Further topics covered are New Ways to Get Consumer Data, Helping TV and Print, Expanding the Power of Micropayments, Changing Telecommunications, A New Way for the Government to Reach You & Charity Begins Online.

Personally I don’t think Twitter will keep the monopoly on micro blogging. Consider web mail. At first you had Hotmail (quickly bought out by Microsoft) but before long anyone could set up a webmail service. Blogging tools are also generic. Twitter will have to work hard to maintain their position as the preferred micro blogging service.

Check out the article here if you have a good attention span.