ASSESS LEVELS OF CREATIVITY AND INNOVATION

At the turn of the twenty-first century, companies were thought to be secure if connected to the Knowledge Economy as a competitive advantage. However, that too has become commoditized and moved, in part, to China, India, and some east European countries.

What has evolved for many companies is a shift from the Knowledge Economy to the Creativity Economy. The movement has powerful implications for sustaining the offense and developing it into a core competence.

And it is not just by maintaining an edge in technology; the movement applies creativity, imagination, and innovation to any functional areas of the business that could impact offensive strategy. Nor does the movement appear to be a short-term fad.

Increasingly, companies are embracing the change. Universities are introducing numerous programs in creativity. And a growing number of design labs are catering to companies hungering for dynamic paths for growth. The movement aims at creating new consumer experiences, not just modifying existing products or introducing line extensions.

At the forefront of the movement are Procter & Gamble and General Electric, followed by Apple, 3M, Microsoft, Sony, Dell, IBM, Wal-Mart, and scores of others. These companies are driving forward, armed with an intimate understanding of consumer behavior. They are honing their ability to determine what consumers want even before people can articulate these needs.

A process has evolved to foster creativity. It consists of the following steps:

Maintain ongoing observation. Go beyond the conventional market research studies and get into the streets, talk with customers, and observe their buying habits. Cultural anthropologists call the process an ethnographic study. Applied to business, for instance, managers at Gap Incorporated observed that social shopping—in pairs or threesomes—is the norm for women shoppers in its stores. Noting the consistency of such behavior, Gap management enlarged dressing rooms to accommodate that buying pattern.

Create models, videos, or simulations. Using a hands-on, interactive experience permits concepts to come alive. The feedback helps designers decide what to modify or discard. It thereby reduces the risk of failure and quickens the product launch.

Develop a narrative. Designers have found that wrapping a potential new product around an emotional story connects with consumers and improves the chances of success. The design of a new line of watches and driving shoes, for example, captured the story of the Mini Cooper’s cool urban driving experience. The happening related to the driver, not the car.

Install a process. The object is to make the creative process an ongoing and intrinsic function of the organization. That means understanding the culture of the organization and undertaking changes where appropriate. Sometimes the changes can be wrenching experiences, but the potential payout is enormous. As business consultant Bruce Nussbaum termed it, the Creativity Economy is more anthropology and less technology.

While creativity, imagination, and innovation apply most often to new products and services, you can also activate the process and add originality to your business strategies and give them a unique character. You thereby ensure that you are elevating your thinking to a new dimension and not simply repeating the off-the-shelf actions of a past period (see Chapter 9).

By taking into account the favorable factors, he makes his plan feasible;

by taking into account the unfavorable, he may resolve the difficulties.

 
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