Unshackling the creative business

We have a new essay published in Deloitte Insights, Unshackling the creative business: Breaking the tradeoff between creativity and efficiency.[1]Evans-Greenwood, P et al. 2021, ‘Unshackling the creative business: Breaking the tradeoff between creativity and efficiency’, Deloitte Insights, … Continue reading Creativity is seen as an import capability for an organisation to be successful in today’s volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world. Significant effort has been invested in fostering creativity in business, effort which sadly is often wasted. This essay looks at why this might be the case and what we can do about it.

Despite being a well researched topic, it’s not uncommon to hear that creativity is some ineffable and undefinable thing. This is not the case. Research into creativity defines it as something that is both novel and useful. This implies that creativity is subjective: novel and useful to whom? The same research shows that creativity is a generative process, where product, person, process and place interact in interesting way to produce a creative work—it’s more verb than noun, and it’s increasingly something we do together rather than something we do alone.

The challenge in business is that creativity needs to be distributed across the firm, not centralised in an ‘creative’ group such as innovation or R&D. Realising a creative idea like “burger of the month” requires many small acts of creativity across the firm if it is to succeed—novel and useful approaches to certify vendors, training, and so on—and without these many small acts of creativity a “burger of the month” will fail. Creativity is contingent: the creativity of one team depends on the creativity of the teams it relies on. Or, put another way, a firm is only as creative as its least creative team.

The crux of it is that in the contest between creativity and efficiency, efficiency will always win as creativity is not represented in operational metrics, practices, and so on. If we want to make our firms more creative then we need to break this tradeoff by integrating creativity into our operating models.

The essay unpacks these issues and ties them back to models and ideas from the wealth of research into creativity, and provides a tentative path forward. You can find the essay on Deloitte Insights.

References

References
1 Evans-Greenwood, P et al. 2021, ‘Unshackling the creative business: Breaking the tradeoff between creativity and efficiency’, Deloitte Insights, <https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/topics/innovation/unshackling-creativity-in-business.html>.

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