Creative core


A com­pany’s most im­por­tant as­set isn’t raw ma­te­ri­als, trans­porta­tion sys­tems, or po­lit­i­cal in­flu­ence. It’s creative cap­i­tal—sim­ply put, an arse­nal of creative thinkers whose ideas can be turned into valu­able prod­ucts and ser­vices. Creative em­ploy­ees pioneer new tech­nolo­gies, birth new in­dus­tries, and power eco­nomic growth… If you want your com­pany to suc­ceed, th­ese are the peo­ple you en­trust it to. That much is cer­tain. What’s less cer­tain is how to man­age for max­i­mum cre­ativ­ity.* Creative man­age­ment is a com­plex process, but mas­ter­ing it is im­per­a­tive for those who want to de­liver true value.

Be­sides var­i­ous other things, cre­ativ­ity is the use of imag­i­na­tion. It is a new way of solv­ing prob­lems and craft­ing value-adding so­lu­tions. Cre­ativ­ity, by its very na­ture, is con­tex­tual, so­lu­tion-fo­cused, and fu­tur­is­tic. In creative arts, it trans­forms words into sto­ries, drama, po­ems, and songs; can­vas and col­ors into beau­ti­ful paint­ings; and stones into valu­able sculp­tures. In a com­mer­cial con­text, creative think­ing may be viewed as a mind­set—an in­no­va­tive so­lu­tion-seek­ing mind­set.

Man­age­ment has been de­fined by its orig­i­na­tors as a fo­cused dis­ci­pline of con­trol­ling pro­cesses, peo­ple, and ma­te­ri­als. In the world of busi­ness, re­sources are ex­pected to en­hance com­mer­cial value.

I vi­su­al­ize creative man­age­ment as a cre­ativ­ity-driven, cus­tomer-fo­cused, and dis­ci­plined value cre­ation process that trans­forms in­no­va­tive ideas into profit-gen­er­at­ing prod­ucts and ser­vices. Thus, it may not be wrong to say that creative man­age­ment is the gen­e­sis of value-cre­at­ing sus­tain­able com­mer­cial en­ter­prises.

in­no­va­tive ideas and creative man­age­ment

Creative man­age­ment is the prime mover of in­no­va­tive idea-driven en­trepreneur­ship. The trans­for­ma­tion of idea into pos­i­tive cash flow gen­er­at­ing prod­ucts is a multi-func­tional, dy­namic, cus­tomer- fo­cused, val­ue­cre­at­ing jour­ney.

In a firm, creative man­age­ment in­cludes proac­tive as­sim­i­la­tion of re­quired cre­ativ­ity from dif­fer­ent func­tional ar­eas—in­te­gra­tion of con­tex­tual en­trepreneur­ship to en­sure com­mer­cial vi­a­bil­ity, and for sus­tain­abil­ity, amal­gam of the per­spec­tives of dif­fer­ent strate­gic busi­ness part­ners.

Cu­rios­ity, con­tex­tual think­ing, and ques­tion­ing as well as learn­ing, un­learn­ing, and re­learn­ing are also in­te­gral parts of the creative man­age­ment pro­cesses.

why creative man­age­ment

The present ecosys­tem is of­ten de­scribed as vo­latile, un­cer­tain, com­plex, and am­bigu­ous. What next is a per­pet­ual ques­tion.

To re­spond to VUCA dis­rup­tions and seize new op­por­tu­ni­ties, busi­ness units need to be­come proac­tive, aware, ag­ile, and creative. Also, to counter dis­rup­tions, con­tin­u­ous align­ment of dif­fer­ent func­tional ar­eas is es­sen­tial be­sides cre­at­ing new value.

Be­ing open to new ways of think­ing and learn­ing to quickly trans­form ideas into at­trac­tive and af­ford­able prod­ucts and ser­vices is emerg­ing as an es­sen­tial core com­pe­tency. Fast crit­i­cal and creative think­ing as well as de­sign­ing so­lu­tions are es­sen­tial ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

Busi­ness play­ers need to snap out of in­dus­trial-era com­fort zones and be ready to cope with the pace of change in­tro­duced by dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies and creative chal­lenges. Learn­ing to be com­fort­able and creative in an un­com­fort­able and dis­rup­tive en­vi­ron­ment is the new im­per­a­tive.

Tech­nol­ogy is defin­ing cus­tomers’ spend­ing jour­neys and op­tions. On-the-move con­nec­tiv­ity is trans­form­ing busi­ness-cus­tomer re­la­tions. Life cy­cle of prod­ucts, ser­vices, and busi­ness suc­cess is re­duc­ing fast. Cre­at­ing value on the move with vir­tual teams and mem­bers lo­cated in dif­fer­ent parts of the world is evolv­ing as the new work style.

De­pend­ing on the na­ture, con­text, and fu­ture cus­tomer seg­ment per­ceived for an in­no­va­tive idea, its path­way will re­quire unique creative in­puts and man­age­ment skills. Be it fru­gal in­no­va­tion to ra­tio­nal­ize costs or en­hance rev­enue through dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing of ex­ist­ing prod­ucts, or cre­ation of new prod­ucts and busi­ness mod­els, we will need to adopt, adapt, and de­velop a creative man­age­ment mind­set.

the paradigm shift

It is of­ten said that we are wit­ness­ing the Fourth In­dus­trial Rev­o­lu­tion. While try­ing to catch up or leapfrog, firms would need to re­main cus­tomer fo­cused. Or­ga­ni­za­tions are of­ten equated to liv­ing or­gan­isms, hence be­ing in tune with their ecosys­tem is a sus­tain­abil­ity im­per­a­tive. New sit­u­a­tions re­quire new think­ing.

dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy-driven vir­tu­ally con­nected work cul­ture: New tech-hu­man work cul­ture is evolv­ing. In­creas­ing use of tech­nolo­gies such as ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence, IoT, big data, pre­dic­tive an­a­lyt­ics, and any­time any­where con­nec­tiv­ity are sources of ma­jor dis­rup­tions. New busi­ness mod­els are be­ing used to of­fer new prod­ucts and ser­vices to tech­nol­ogy-savvy cus­tomers.

manag­ing change, dis­rup­tions, and con­ti­nu­ity: Be­sides cre­at­ing in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal dis­rup­tions in the com­mer­cial ecosys­tem, om­nipresent dig­i­tal tech­nol­o­gy­driven busi­ness ini­tia­tives are chang­ing the rules of the game as well as mov­ing goal­posts of in­dus­trial era busi­ness units.

Dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies are dis­rup­tors as well as so­lu­tion­providers. Busi­ness man­agers need to learn the art and science of mak­ing creative use of tech­nol­ogy in busi­ness op­er­a­tions. Main­tain­ing con­ti­nu­ity with cus­tomers while

The trans­for­ma­tion of idea into pos­i­tive cash flow gen­er­at­ing prod­ucts is a mul­ti­func­tional, dy­namic, cus­tomer- fo­cused, value-cre­at­ing jour­ney.

restor­ing dam­age done by dis­rup­tions and change as well as cre­at­ing new val­ues to re­main com­pet­i­tive will be an in­te­gral part of the creative man­age­ment agenda.

need to re­de­fine strat­egy: To meet new chal­lenges of en­hanc­ing cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ences by sim­pli­fi­ca­tion, cus­tomiza­tion, and stream­lin­ing of cus­tomer shop­ping jour­neys, strate­gic think­ing must be pro-ac­tive, en­trepreneurial, creative and in­te­gra­tive. A shift from pas­sive ‘roadmap think­ing’ is nec­es­sary. Creative man­age­ment al­lows for am­bidex­ter­ity, to be able to op­ti­mize and yet be ag­ile to adapt.

need to em­brace sce­nario to deal with un­cer­tainty: In­no­va­tions cel­e­brate fu­ture. In­no­va­tive ideas and cre­ativ­ity are fu­tur­is­tic. Visu­al­iz­ing in­no­va­tive ideas as fu­ture com­mer­cial prod­ucts and ser­vices as well as quickly de­sign­ing their path­ways to po­ten­tial cus­tomers in a fast­mov­ing en­vi­ron­ment re­quires ac­cel­er­ated crit­i­cal think­ing, pre­dic­tive anal­y­sis, and it­er­a­tive de­sign­ing of fu­ture sce­nar­ios.

Each creative man­age­ment process is unique, con­tex­tual, fu­ture-fo­cused, and dy­namic. It re­quires a ze­r­obased fu­ture sce­nario fo­cused ap­proach. Any pro­longed use of ‘rear view mir­ror’ strate­gies may prove detri­men­tal. Thus ex­ec­u­tives need to shift their fo­cus from his­tor­i­cal wins and losses to craft­ing fu­ture sce­nar­ios.

cre­at­ing fu­ture-ready or­ga­ni­za­tions

In busi­ness con­text, creative think­ing may be viewed as a mind­set—just a change in at­ti­tude, just be­ing cu­ri­ous, and ask­ing ap­pro­pri­ate ques­tions. To be creative, or­ga­ni­za­tions do not re­quire any­thing other than what they al­ready have—peo­ple. All that they re­quire is ‘seed­ing’ of cu­rios­ity, nur­tur­ing of ques­tions, and creative man­age­ment.

Some man­agers as­sume ‘know-it-all’ pos­tures and try to con­trol ev­ery as­pect of the busi­ness process. Oth­ers nur­ture cre­ativ­ity at all lev­els. It is for the man­age­ment to de­cide whether to adopt a do-as-told or think-and-share pol­icy and adopt a learn-to­gether man­age-to­gether pol­icy. The po­ten­tial of cre­ativ­ity is present in ev­ery or­ga­ni­za­tion. To use it or not is the man­age­ment’s de­ci­sion. In that sense, it may not be wrong to view cre­ativ­ity as a free re­source for man­age­ment. Cre­ativ­ity is a low-cost, high-value-adding

To be creative, or­ga­ni­za­tions do not re­quire any­thing other than what they al­ready have—peo­ple. All that they re­quire is ‘seed­ing’ of cu­rios­ity, nur­tur­ing of ques­tions, and creative man­age­ment.

re­new­able eco­nomic re­source. To min­i­mize cor­po­rate fa­tigue and en­hance sus­tain­abil­ity, cre­ativ­ity should be nur­tured as an in­te­gral part of com­pany work cul­ture

In­no­va­tion and cre­ativ­ity are fu­ture-fo­cused. Each con­text and creative jour­ney is unique. Suc­cess is no longer op­po­site of fail­ure. Fail­ure has be­come a step­ping stone to suc­cess. For sus­tain­able com­pet­i­tive­ness, cor­po­ra­tions would have to nur­ture it­er­a­tive and ex­per­i­men­tal mind­set as a core com­pe­tency.

To com­pre­hend the full spec­trum of op­por­tu­ni­ties and risk, creative man­agers would need to do zero-based think­ing. In the dy­namic and dis­rup­tive, fast-chang­ing busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment, skills to cre­ate cus­tomer-fo­cused creative so­lu­tions would be es­sen­tial for sus­tain­able com­pet­i­tive­ness.

While in­ter­act­ing with var­i­ous C-suite ex­ec­u­tives from dif­fer­ent in­dus­tries, it be­came ob­vi­ous that creative abil­ity to trans­form ideas into new value-added prod­ucts and ser­vices at a fast com­pet­i­tive pace is the new need of the hour. Need for manag­ing dis­rup­tive change as well as re­in­forc­ing cus­tom­ized con­ti­nu­ity with cus­tomers are also the new es­sen­tials in the busi­ness game.

To be an ef­fec­tive, value-adding smart man­ager, one would have to mas­ter the art and science of creative man­age­ment. Smart, creative man­agers would be val­ue­cre­ators in ev­ery func­tional area of any busi­ness process. ■

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