For someone whose business and passion is creativity, I have come to a sad, even distressing, realisation.
Most business owners don’t want creativity.
They don’t value it. They don’t know how to put a price on it. They don’t know how to measure it. They can’t see its connection with business success.
Creativity is a bucket of snakes. Scary. Hard to control. Unpredictable. Dangerous.
Creativity is something you hang on a wall. You don’t give it a chair on your board. You don’t let it corrupt the logic, the data, the precedents and actuarially supported projections that fuel business operations.
Creativity is vague, elusive and ephemeral. A soap bubble.
If you run a business, you focus on the real business issues:
You want to be more profitable.
You want to expand your market.
You want to engage your audience.
You want to engage your staff.
You want to cut costs.
You want to be more productive.
You want to reduce staff turnover.
You want to reduce sick leave.
You want to attract the best people.
You want to improve your products.
You want to improve your service.
You want a competitive advantage.
These are the things you want. You don’t want creativity.
I hear you.
I hear you, but I don’t understand you. And here’s why: Creativity delivers all the things you want. Every single item on your wish list.
Creativity has been a 3M mantra for decades. 3M holds 22,000 patents. It produces 55,000 products. It employs 88,000 people. It makes sales of $30 billion each year.
Google regularly collaborates with creative people from other fields – musicians Arcade Fire and will.i.am, educator Sal Khan. Google is racing Apple to be the first company worth 1 trillion dollars.
Visa is now the world’s fifth most valuable brand. In the past year it has jumped two places on that list. One of the things Visa did to get there was to form a partnership with Apple – another business that values creativity.
If you want to be more profitable, more valuable, more competitive, if you want to attract and keep the best people and get the best out of them, make a place for creativity.
Feed it. Foster it. Unleash it.
Let creativity run rampant through your entire organisation. Let it break things – paradigms, protocols, policies and precedents.
Creativity solves unsolved problems.
Creativity reveals unseen opportunities.
Creativity has the power to put you in a better position.
If there’s one thing that holds a business back from greatness, it’s a refusal to embrace creativity.