This week marks the start of a new chapter in the life of Circ Consulting. A project which has already proven to be an exciting, stimulating, interesting and thought-provoking new direction. The study of Creativity.
The development of this project is in response to our experience that marketing within businesses is needing to explore new ways of solving problems.
Chris's mantra whenever we are talking to clients is that marketing's job (and our job as consultants to marketers) is to create value and Value=Benefit/Cost. One constant frustration we hear from our clients is that business has focused almost solely on the Cost element of the equation…and has forgotten about creating Benefit. If Benefit is created, then increased value is an outcome.
So…why is creativity the answer? Well, at this stage we think it is because of what we already know. What seems to be common knowledge and what we have read of the benefits of the creative process, such as:
"Harvard Business Review, authors Florida and Goodnight (2005) made the point that a company's most important asset is not its raw materials, transportation systems, or political influence. Instead, they contended the most important asset is a company's "creative capital" or "arsenal of creative thinkers whose ideas can be turned into valuable products and services" (p. 124)." *
But, for us to work with our clients using Creativity as an additional element in our proposition of 'Insight, Strategy, Sustainable Value', we felt we needed to better understand what creativity actually is in the business context and in what ways it can help organisations achieve their goals. It also made sense that we undergo some kind of creativity evolution ourselves so that we could truly maximise the benefits for our clients. So, The Creativity Project is born.
"Faith is taking the first step
even when you don't see the whole staircase."
Martin Luther King Jr.
What we don't know for sure is what the outcome of this project will be. That is the scary and intangible beast that creativity is. Will we learn what it takes to be a creative thinker and creative organisation? Will this actually help US to achieve the goals of our organisation? Is this something our clients actually want (or are brave enough to embrace)? And, are we brave enough to embrace a new, creative way of working and seeing the problems that we are faced with?
What we do know is that it does present an opportunity to challenge ourselves, to expand our thinking and to develop and expand our networks. It will create engagement with our clients, involve them in our business in a new way and provide insight into our clients and how we work with them.
Over the next 2 months we will be exploring, in-depth, what is creativity and how it is applied in the business world, specifically marketing teams. Trying to understand what is meant by creativity in these environments, how it can help the organisation to achieve their goals and the role of creativity in the 21st century. We want to know how organisations are doing it well (and doing it not so well), not just the Googles of this world, but real, practical replicable examples here in Australia. Is it essential that we sit around the office in hanging chairs to creatively approach business problems or can creative change come by implementing one or two techniques that encourage a sudden insight into problem-solving? Because we know cultural change is difficult, and not everyone (and maybe even no-one) has the appetite for a makeover in the image of Google, these are questions we need to answer.
This first week of casting the net of research and investigation wide and planning our project has been fascinating and, much like starting the search for a new car, we're now seeing references to creativity everywhere we look:
…which led to listening to Simon Ritchie, Partner of Enterprise, Tax and Accounting, KPMG, on the RMIT website: "Creativity in thought and actions is essential to create great experiences for your team and your clients. We want people to think differently, to see things in different ways."
While, an unrelated meeting referred us back to John Cleese's seminal 1991 lecture on how to be creative, "Creativity is not a talent, it's a process… You have to create some space for yourself away from those demands. And that means sealing yourself off. You must make a quiet space for yourself where you will be undisturbed.
And it's only by having a specific moment when your space starts and an equally specific moment when your space stops that you can seal yourself off from the every day closed mode in which we all habitually operate."
And, searching to try and define creativity found Nel Mostert, Facilitator of Innovation Teams. "Trying to define creativity is like trying find life in the body…if you take it apart piece by piece, somewhere during your investigation you lose track of it."
Looking outward has caused us to start looking inward also and question all our practices. Is our approach to our next workshop creative? Are we pushing ourselves enough to achieve the best outcome for the client? Is there a better - more original, more memorable, more interesting (ie more creative) way to communicate key concepts to the group. Are we brave enough to try something we've never done before? How much can we stretch our clients and ourselves in pushing the boundaries for an exceptional outcome and are we prepared to take those risks?
I am left with another quote from insightful funny man, John Cleese which may, in fact, be what we need as inspiration to get to our goal over the next 2 months:
"I was always intrigued that one of my Monty Python colleagues seemed to be more talented than I was but did never produce scripts as original as mine. And I watched for some time and then I began to see why. If he was faced with a problem, and fairly soon saw a solution, he was inclined to take it. Even though he knew the solution was not very original.
Whereas if I was in the same situation, although I was sorely tempted to take the easy way out, and finish by 5 o'clock, I just couldn't. I'd sit there with the problem for another hour-and-a-quarter, and by sticking at it would, in the end, almost always come up with something more original."
* McCorkle, D. E., Payan, J. M., Reardon, J., & Kling, N. D. (2007). Perceptions and reality: Creativity in the marketing classroom. Journal of Marketing Education, 29(3), 254-261.