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. ■