Today’s business creativity


Creative business and creative management are today’s keywords in marketing. And yet despite all of the attention it gets, amazingly little is known about creative business innovations. Creativity depends on a number of things like experience, including knowledge and technical skills, talent, the ability to think in new ways and motivation. Most people aren’t even close to realizing their creative potential. All the stories around us suggest that many companies still have a long way to go to remove the barriers to creativity. More and more companies offer rewards and create a business where sales are connected to bonuses. But then most people spend a lot of time wondering about their bonuses instead of creative thinking. In fact bonuses can become even problematic when people believe that every move they make is going to affect their compensation. It seems that people put far more value on a work environment where creativity is supported. Creative business needs a deeply engage in your work to make real progress. People are most creative when they care about their work and they’re stretching their skills. If the challenge is far beyond their skill level, they tend to get frustrated. If it’s far below their skill level, they tend to get bored. Leaders need to strike the right balance. Also when people are working under great pressure, their creativity goes down enormously. Not only at that moment, but also in the days after. Creativity requires something like an incubation period in which they can soak in the problem and let their mindset get focussed on ideas and solutions. And it is not as much the deadline that causes their minds to lock up, it is the distractions that rob people of the time to make any creative breakthrough. People can’t really get creative with the possibility to loose their job if they don’t think of something good. And people are more creative as a group then as individuals. Creative business does not mean a hard or soft management style. It means a smart management style. And that means that in order to get the creativity flowing you need

Thnk University

I keep following the creative business school in Amsterdam, THNK. I see and read everything I can find. However, what I find isn’t anything creative. What is the use of learning to give a perfect presentation if you have nothing to present? What is the use of solving problems if the problems aren’t anything in the field of business creativity? Maybe I miss something. But I truly don’t see any ideas yet that I would expect from such an expensive school. It does not mean that it isn’t there. Undoubtedly the students in this school will learn a lot about how to become creative in business. One of the weirdest things, if you think about it, is that they selected people who have proven their abilities in creative business. That means they chose to educate ‘students’ who already are creative leaders, with the focus on making them greater leaders. They also could have decided to educate people who seem to lack these abilities and focus on more creative leaders, teaching leaders how to think like the most famous example Steve Jobs instead of learning people who already think like Jobs, how to think like Jobs. It’s like teaching a cat how to catch a mouse. You could also teach people to think like a cat and catch more mice all together.

Trends

There are a couple of trends lately that shape global business, like the aspirational age of the consumer. How old does the consumer want to be at a specific moment with a specific product? Some old people want to behave sometimes as little kids, and kids want to behave like adults getting more responsibilities (and nowadays more money).

Also marketers still have the tendency to see the women as housewives and target their advertising for groceries to them. But women study longer, get married later and decide to stay single because of their ambitions. And even when a woman is a housewife her husband has a lot to say as well in what to eat. People can be different targets. Kids aren’t just kids anymore. They help their parents with finding the perfect tv or new laptop. Women also don’t choose just the colour of the car anymore, but since she is also driving a lot as well she got a strong vote in choosing the brand and type of car.

There is also now a large focus on making your life easy and comfortable. And traditional phases in life aren’t so obvious anymore. Less and less people follow the path of getting married, buy a family house, get kids, the man to work and the woman doing household. People who marry seem to divorce a lot more than a decade ago. Therefore you should not attach products to this kind of lifestage. Better make it for all women and not just the married ones with kids. You also see boardgames advertised as: fun for the whole family!. But what if you are divorced and have your kid only ones a month? What if you don’t have kids but have older friends who, like you, like to play boardgames? Maybe instead of shifting to online board games, shift to the same game but in a more luxureous and adult version? Metal parts. A board game that you could place on a table for decoration, even in luxureous houses.

What if you made all your games in a luxureous version, all in the same theming? Then you could get pieces exchangable for all your games. Then you could have in stores lots and lots of different sets of pieces, specifically for you… Making it fun and being cool collecting these trendy and great looking games with personalisable pieces. You could have money packs with all sorts of currencies. And all cards used in the game with the same gold or silver back print. Making a link and connect the games, while leaving all the room there is to make it your own set of games…

The first owners of colour tv’s were the people with the lowest incomes. And it weren’t the people with the high incomes who had the first dvd-recorders or widescreen tv’s. People with less income tend to seek for products that can upgrade their life. The people with high incomes go searching for the better, professional, quality. And we see a different trend connected to these expensive emotions: people with lower income compensate with other products for a lower price. Like clothing at discount stores and waiting till the shoes they want are on sale. So on the one hand we have these people buying expensive and trendy products, and on the other hand they want their food and clothing as cheap as they can get. That is one of the main reasons why shops with middle priced products have such hard times. If you want to earn money you can best either sell the latest products at high prices or sell other consumer products with the price as low as you can make it. That’s why in Holland a store like Action is skyrocketing, being in low section, and V&D, in the middle price segment, is doing worse every year.

Also nowadays people are more focussed on theirselves. They share their lives on Facebook, chat with people they never met, and they want to be left alone in real life. People are convinced that they can decide themselves what they wear, what they buy, and what they watch on tv. With that they want products that fit their lifestyle. So they want groceries that strengthen the way they behave. There is also a lot of food available for the individual, like the ready meals for one person. But other businesses like cinemas, museums and amusement parks still tend to target all their advertising to families and people who come with friends. As an adult individual you are very often forgotten.  But if you have ever been to a museum all by yourself you know how nice it is to soak it all in without anyone nagging that he or she needs to go to the bathroom or demanding a coffee to relax.

Another big trend lately is that people want to experience and experiment. The 3D movies are a good example in this trend. The entertainment industry seems to slowly but progressively understand that we want a play, show or musical come off that stage and make them interactive. We not only want to see and hear anymore, but also smell, touch and feel the magic.

Although a bit contrary with the experience-trend, people love and prefer to experience in their own comfort zone. There is always a tendency to look back, nostalgia, like it was better years ago. And we feel safe on our own couch. Watching tv, laptop or tablet on our lap. Not going outside but contact the outside world via our media. That’s how we love to spend evenings at home.

While we don’t want to share in real life, we have the tendency to share everything in our digital lives. We want everyone to see the photos of our trip to the museum with lots of story attached and replying to every question. But when friends ask you in person how the trip was, they get just the simple ‘yeah it was great!’ . Sometime followed by the killer of all conversations ‘I have it all on Facebook’. We used to be able to tell with enthusiasm to our friends how we had such a good day.

We want the same with growing easy and speed. Save time, spending time how we want it and doing things when we want to. No more time for a good breakfast but a quick snack while driving to work. Meals already prepared and just to warm in the microwave. Vegetables already washed and prepared. We buy more and more online. It’s easier, more comfortable, faster…. And we can shop for the latest furniture while we have our plate with dinner in front of us. But what we can’t find convenience for our workout. It takes time to get there, going out in the cold or heat, then train, shower while not at home, driving back home at night….

And yet anything attached to health is good business nowadays. Fast-food chains sell more and more vegetarian and healthy foods only because there’s a market for it. And we already have  convenience meals but now we also see more and more healthy convenience foods.

Swedish style

One of the business that isn’t doing well lately is Nokia. Especially in the Asian countries where there are more gadgets than people, these people seem to avoid Nokia. And the company has no idea why. But standing in any phoneshop you should be able to notice it in 5 seconds. When you look at all the phones the Nokia’s don’t stand out. They are not special in any way. I always was a fan of Nokia. Their older phones were robust. Metal. They looked expensive, professional. And most importantly: cool. It was the brand any businessman wanted, needed to have. And now all that exclusiveness and coolness has gone. If you are a businessman then a Nokia is by far the phone to have. When you are a cool gadget guy, then you don’t want to be seen with one of their phones. It’s like the company is runned by 60 year old seniors who have no idea about today’s digital and online world. And definitely no idea about trends. Oh, the things someone really creative could do in such a business. One dragon-thinker (The Dragon in business) could save this company.

Imagine having a phone that always knows where it is, what time it is, and that you can tell where you will be at a certain moment in the future. And it also knows where other phones (your friends) are and will be. And with just one simple button you can lock the location where you are now, name it, make a photo of it, and save it for your future. You see an accident, call 911 (or here in Holland 112), the dispatch has software to take over the camera, that’s recorded for future reference, and the dispatcher can see live what the situation is and react accordingly. But it also knows where you are. For you the phone is like today’s navigation system. It can show you where the nearest cash machine is, what restaurants are in your area and where the nearest bus station is. When near to the train station it shows a pop-up and asks where you want to go, resulting in the platform and time for the next train. You can make plans to meet in town to go out with friends. And all you need to plan is the time. You go to the centre of the city and you see where your friends are…. And all your friends have this same brand of phone. All professional, metal phones in trendy colours and very cool to have.

On Stage

Stage Entertainment is one of the biggest names in musicals and theatre. Their list of productions is impressive. So take a look at their website by clicking on their logo:

Remember, the thing they ‘sell’ is theatre. Grand scale musicals. You would expect to see video’s. You would expect to get a feeling about their musicals, feel their energy, feel a connection with the characters… But all you get to see from any production is 30 seconds of flashy promotion and a couple of small photos. Before the crisis that maybe was more than enough to get all the seats filled. But nowadays maybe you need a bit more for that. Musicals are expensive. So before you decide to spend a couple of hundred dollars you want to be sure it’s well spent. Why not turn it into a dragon? A look behind the scenes in videos? See the actors in their costum in close up and talk about their role on Youtube? Stories on Facebook? Tweets about how exiting it is just three weeks before the show with added photos of rehearsals? Create a buzz….

Virginity

In case you wonder what new music comes out, if your band or singer has any music planned, and what Virgin does to let you come back:

: Stay tuned for more releases.

But isn’t this the place to get fans attached to you? Like a cliffhanger in series. The people who click on your site should have to have an excuse to come back. Not only to become interested but also stay interested. They can get your cd’s and dvd’s anywhere. But there’s only one Virgin Records website.

You can’t click on a button to follow them on Youtube, Twitter or Facebook. Like it’s run by a group of grumpy old men who have no idea of this recent multimedia age and still believe that people will buy their cd’s because of no alternative…

The news page is a listing of press releases. No pictures, no music, almost no links…. Just text.

Music companies used to have a steady income in 2 ways; sales of cd’s plus dvd’s, and performance rights.

That used to be enough for them, and they didn’t even have to do anything for it. People would buy the cd’s of theirs stars. And rights were controllable. But then the internet came, with youtube and programs for easy sharing of music. There is a recession now, so that people simply can’t afford paying for the music they want. And it’s still 100 times easier to download music illegally than with any paysite. I don’t know if you ever even tried to buy music online? Most don’t come any further than trying. It should be very easy to go to a music site, click on the song that you want, put that song in your basket, and when your basket is filled with a couple of songs buy them, just like books or clothing. Only these songs that you want. For a reasonable price. Not a complete cd. And by no means not even a cd. The first thing I do when I bought a cd is rip it into my pc. I have all my music there. I can make playlists, make folders of ballads or jazz…. I can do with the music whatever I want on my pc. And I am allowed to because I paid for the music. But nowadays who walks around with a discman? Who uses cd’s at a party? Most use some sort of digital device for that. But a Free Record Store is still filled with good old cd’s. How cool would it be to walk in a store where there are no cd’s but a large bar with laptops on it. You can click in your own headphone or use a very professional one hanging above the bar. And on the laptop there’s a program in which you can listen to all latest songs. You can put them in the basket and then you decide how you want to collect them. Maybe you have an iPad, a tablet, an mp3 player, a usb-stick, or maybe you want that old fashioned cd? The salesperson behind the bar can arrange it all for you. You can pay like in any store and after you bought the music you want, have it on your mp3 player, you can relax by listen to more music that you can put in your wishlist because you logged in, while zipping your Italian coffee. This is how cool it could be buying music. Let people listen to the songs, have them select songs, pay a good price for it, and while they relax and enjoy their coffee offer them other things that might interest them. Recordings of live concerts on a big screen with perfect quality sound from speakers in a closed area. Just walk in an feel like being there. And you can select concerts via a touchscreen. Is there a concert that you want to own then log in, put it in your basket and before leaving login at the bar and let the barkeeper get the dvd for you. And since it’s a music store, why not have live connections to concerts around the globe in a special hangout area. You can reserve a seat and be semi-live at the concert on a big screen with Dolby sound. How cool would that be?

Oh, I could go on for hours and hours with ideas for every kind of business. The problem is that most of the time I am a bit ahead, and thinking too much outside of the box for most companies…. Ahwell….