They like to swing curve balls here at Jack in the box. They casually drop them on Monday mornings, before strong coffee. They ask their creative team to write a blog on business. Bam! A triple shot flat white is needed to even digest that job. Funny thing with us wierd-wired designers, the more we play with crayons, pens, illustrator and photoshop, the less we see ourselves as viable business types; people you should be taking (or reading) business advice from. It’s like asking the Sex Pistols about sound production techniques, “I put all dem knobs at eleven!”. Or reading about talent from Justin Beiber. It’s just a big no.

Then I put down my heavily chewed crayon and finger paints… creativity has a big impact on business. I am not speaking of clever advertisements with gorillas playing the drums or well branded companies. I am referring to the actual thought processes that goes into problem solving and idea creation. Issues affecting the business and how these are tackled.

Back in 2010 business as an entity had been hit some pretty big body blows and had come close to a full KO. IBM puts out its finding from its 2010 CEO survey. A survey some would think to be full of CEO’s recommending orthodox, tried and tested business patterns. Survival mechanisms clicking in… but no, the Survey had 60% of CEO’s polled decreeing creativity as the most important leadership quality. No way… (insert young Keanu Reeves “whoa” emoticon here) When things get hard and complicated there are two options, turtle it out with a hard shell of measured constraint or… think up new solutions and diversify like the lemurs did on turning up on the shores of Madagascar.

An example of this creative style of thought process was the brand BIC. Synonymous with generic disposable ball point pens. When thinking about how to expand the business they had the thought process, “We are a disposable pens business” then the thought process changed to “We are a disposable product company” and this brought about the creation of the disposable BIC lighter and many other objects destined for being swallowed by the back of the car seat. Great idea. They could have just added a few new colours and ranges of pens, kept it safe and maybe faded out like VHS.

The ability to look at a problem or a need from a totally different angle has created many amazing products, apps, brands and shopping addictions, as well as kept business alive and prosperous.

Where some think ‘collateral’, others think ‘lateral’.

I just have to look at my two cats to see this thinking in action – Cats are lateral thinkers. I see clean laundry; they see a day bed. I see new expensive cat toy; they see dust collecting device. I see couch; they see a scratching post. They teach me to always look at everything from ‘that creative’ place.

Creative thinking to challenges can also be cost effective. Listening to the Agency Bigwig Speakers at last year’s Emergence Creative Festival really hit home the benefits of a creative mind-set to problems. Many of the stories about the most successful marketing and branding campaigns came from difficult problems, budget slashes and last minute changes. Many of the most successful campaigns were also in the end the cheapest ones. Say moving formats from a massive TV advertisement based strategy to a more sharable, agile online campaign. Setbacks were dealt with a creative lateral mind-set which also made many of the campaigns more connected and more human.

As the world of business gets more busy, complicated and more connected, startups, CEO’s and other cyborgs will show a creative flair in the face of change, flowing, innovating and perhaps even picking up the odd crayon…

Generic quote section:

“The best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible.” — David Ogilvy, founder of Ogilvy & Mather

“There is no doubt that creativity is the most important human resource of all. Without creativity,
there would be no progress, and we would be forever repeating the same patterns.” — Edward de Bono