Why Creative Thinking Matters to Any Business

What is the structure of your team doing to promote the creative process?

Anyone can buy growth.

Not everyone can create it.

The organisation that learns how to foster a culture of creative thinking is likely to make the M&A (Merger & Acquisition) team redundant.

Apple has averaged 1 acquisition per year since it’s inception whilst in recent years Microsoft, Google and Cisco averaged 8 – 10 per year. Additionally, Apple have consistantly held an R&D budget significantly smaller than their competitors.

Using our own method of measuring the return on creativity – – Blirt CreativeROI (beta) – Apple took their CreativeROI from approx 780% to almost 1100% from 2009 to 2011.

Put simply, 1 dollar in the hands of someone who could think creatively in Apple was creating almost $11 during 2011. During the same year for Microsoft, $1 in the hands of someone who could think creatively was creating $1.60.

They’re both massive, world leading, multi-billion dollar organisations but in reality Apple were making enough cash for gourmet burgers and Microsoft were struggling to create enough coin for a soda.

If creative thinking has such good returns why isn’t everybody trying to foster these cultures?

Firstly, it’s just plain hard.

Secondly, it’s often perceived as high risk.

Thirdly, well it’s just plain hard.

Creativity is Hard Work? …. Don’t Good Ideas Just Happen to Creative People?

An organisation’s people are one of the last bastions of true sustainable competitive advantage.

An organisation of people who think creatively really are worth their weight in gold.

We’ve been focussing on unpacking the science of creative thinking in order to reinvent the art of strategy & execution.

What we’ve found is that creative thinking is the golden thread that weaves together an organisations brand, business model and people.

So, how do you foster creativity?

Here’s just one principle we’ve observed rocks it’s socks off for ROI.

Create Freedom in Structure.

Strangely, structure is one of the great friends to creativity.

Structure is often the driving force for creative thinking – forcing you to work hard, really hard, at new ideas, opportunities or inventions.

However, it needs to be the right kind of structure.

Trying to create in a structure with all the freedoms in the world leads to endless opportunities, eternal possibilities and long drawn out exploration. The result is often bland & mediocre.

Trying to create in a highly controlled structure often closes the door to opportunities for failure, random experimentation or true innovation. The result is pleasing upper management through ‘me too’ products or services the competition are already delivering.

Trying to create in a well defined structure where you have great freedom of expression is the ultimate option. An environment where you can bend rules without breaking them completely.

Music is the best example of this. Music is a highly structured art form with incredible science underpinning it. Jazz is often regarded as one of the most creative art forms of music. Why? Because it bends rules and does things that allow ideas to collide with each other. To the listener these ideas on their own would normally be wrong but somehow it just works.

Music provides a strong structure in which to express great freedoms.

In an organisation the type of structure put in place will determine the types of creative thoughts. Highly structured organisations often fall in to the trap of also being highly controlled. Those that are highly structured but create great freedoms achieve great creative outcomes.

So, what is the structure of your team doing to promote the creative process?

In honour of our love for music, here’s Jack White from the White Stripes talking about structure for creativity.

What is Strategy?

Strategy is wisdom in action.


Wisdom is the application of the knowledge of truth. Action…. well action in this context is applying the insights of truth in creative ways for a specific purpose.

A strategy is when a collection of actions, based on customer truths, all taken together achieve a specific and singular outcome.

Strategy is to be.  

Either a position an outcome or result.  This ‘being’ must respond to a customer truth. 

An organisation shouldn’t have lots of strategies.  You can’t ‘be’ lot’s of things.  But you can and should have lots of action items.  These actions should all lead to the same point.   

What’s that point?  Your strategy.  

Strategy is singular.

Strategy isn’t hard. It’s a single point.

Unlocking the customer truths are hard. Putting actions that respond to these truths in the right order and within the right budget is hard. Getting large teams to agree on these truths and the response, that’s hard.

That’s where egos, personal preferences and ‘pleasing upper management’ have to be put aside for the good of the customer.

That’s really hard.

Strange that it’s often our own attitudes that stand in the way of good wisdom in action.

Get the truth bit right and get the response right and well…. you’ve just implemented a market leading strategy.

Strategy is easy – when you really do know, believe and act on customer truths.

Do you want to see an even more succint answer?

See the clip from Harvard’s Michael Porter: