Driving creative thinking: Why it is vital to business success

Matt Robinson

14 March 2019

The need for creativity has never been greater. Business leaders, governments, and public services across the globe are increasingly recognizing the need to upskill and spearhead a new approach to driving innovation and new ways of thinking. It’s not only a driver of growth. It helps provide greater employee fulfillment, satisfaction, and foster a culture of innovation and development.

With Brexit dominating the agenda in the UK and creating a climate of uncertainty – evidenced by a growing number of organizations announcing they are downsizing their presence here – the need for change is near.

A campaign for change
This environment has led the Data and Marketing Association (DMA) in the UK to establish The Great British Creativity Campaign. Representatives from across the creative, project, and account management teams attended the launch of the initiative in London Wednesday night (March 13) and heard first-hand insight from a range of speakers on how to spearhead some much-needed change.

One of the crucial lessons of the evening was that the UK needs to fight back, and fast. Not only against a lack of business confidence, but against low productivity levels. To put it into context, reports suggest that economic output per hour is 24 percent higher in the US and 20 percent higher in France. That puts the UK near the bottom of the G7and naturally casts questionable doubt on our abilities as a nation.

Break down barriers with greater collaboration
Yet there were many solutions on offer amid the horror stories. As one speaker commented, “Most knowledge actually resides in the brains of others,” so knowledge sharing is important and key to creativity. Lack of knowledge should not be seen as a weakness. If you don’t know something seek it out. There is therefore a real need to break down barriers and incentivize greater collaboration within teams. Ultimately, that’s where greater creative thinking and action will emerge.

However, there was a lot of discussion around how to move from intention to action. For success to be achieved, a creative culture needs to exist, one that needs to stem from the boardroom. Creativity is all about “making unexpected connections” according to guest speaker Roland Harwood.

Support and recognition is essential 
If individuals are not set up for success, no amount of goodwill can help unlock the ethos and eccentricity required for the UK to output billion-dollar brands. That was certainly the view shared by John Grant, a marketing and innovation consultant and author, in his closing address. But again, the business needs to support it and help it develop.

However, speakers were quick to point out that while the UK seems to be lagging behind its European counterparts, there is a long legacy of creativity that has reached global recognition. From long-established brands like Selfridges & Co. to disruptors like BrewDog, which are redefining their category with punch and wit. But while there is much to celebrate, we need to increase our creative output and unlock our true potential.

What’s next?
Bold thinking and expression, embracing diversity, sharing knowledge, and creating an environment for change are all vital to achieve. But it was perhaps Emily Sommers who summed it up perfectly with her three lessons of success. People need to be given the freedom to express themselves. They need to be inspired and fueled by external influences. And work environments should be fun, celebrates successes often, and support the creativity of every single employee.

Right now, that’s exactly the kind of action the UK needs to elevate its position on the world stage and bolster its creative output to bolster confidence and address the productivity deficit.