Winning from the Edge – Auckland

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Presentation Summary

A public event held at University of Auckland presented by The Creative Thinking Project. Kevin Roberts knows all about the business of creativity. As a senior leader in international ideas company Saatchi & Saatchi, and Honorary Professor of Business and Innovation at the University of Auckland Business School, he has many opportunities to see the relationship between creativity and innovation play out in business and learning contexts. He has called creativity the “only unreasonable power” in business. He argues that while other business metrics (quality, price, value, systems) are easily delineated, creativity has almost unlimited potential to differentiate a product or service. The terms ‘creativity’ and ‘innovation’ are often used interchangeably. However, the two terms are not synonymous – so what differentiates them? What roles do creativity and innovation play in the creative process? Do those roles change depending on the discipline, industry or situation?


I’ve been asked to talk about the relationship between creativity and innovation.

As someone who loves New Zealand, someone who is loyal beyond reason to this great country, I’ll do so in the context of New Zealand thriving and winning.

Because winning is the canvas for all our creative thinking and innovative doings, and because New Zealand is beautifully positioned to win in today’s world.

We live in a VUCA world: Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous.

Our challenge is to create a SUPERVUCA world, a world that is Vibrant, Unreal, Crazy, Astounding.

To build a SUPERVUCA future you need creativity and innovation. You have to dream a magic pathway and you need to build that pathway.

To create. And then innovate.

In some areas we are very good at that.

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 

Winning in a high-speed VUCA world is about remembering your ABCs every morning

Ambition. Belief. Courage…. and coming up with idea after idea.

And then it’s about living your life in 3D – Desire, Determination, Discipline in executing these ideas – in innovating.

This is the time of Creativity and Innovation. We are living in the Age of the Idea.

It is the unreasonable power of creativity that drives growth today. Ideas are reframing and disrupting every industry there is. Ideas are the currency of today.

  • Uber – from Ride hailing to UberRush messenger service to UberEvents, guest pre-pay ride service. In 2015 valued at $50B: world’s most valuable startup
  • AirBnB – altering how people travel the world. Beyond hotels to rental lodging to exploring the world around rentals; has helped host 70 million guests,
  • Amazon – e-commerce to cloud services to delivery by drone.

Ideas come from the Edge, and my dream for New Zealand is to win the world from the Edge

New Zealand is an Edge zone, remote, restless, unfiltered, egalitarian, and a place of unlikely firsts. We split the atom, gave women the vote first, conquered Everest, and flew first.

And Auckland is at the epicentre of the New Zealand Edge.

The challenge is for all of us to play to our strengths, and to scale our creativity and ideas faster…without being distracted.

First we need the creators to have the idea.

CREATIVE NEW ZEALANDERS

  • Peter Beck – rocket entrepreneur
  • Alan Gibbs – amphibian entrepreneur
  • AJ Hackett – bungy jump inventor
  • Max Gimblett – artist
  • Karen Walker – fashion designer/brand
  • Peter Cooper – businessman
  • Trelise Cooper – fashion designer/brand
  • Glenn Martin – Jet Pack inventor
  • Rob Fyfe – businessman/former CEO Air New Zealand
  • Nadia Lim – chef/entrepreneur
  • Peter Jackson – Rings, Hobbit director
  • Jane Campion – film director

Creativity is about what is possible, and the creators believe Nothing is Impossible.

Creativity looks at the infinite. It is about attacking the unknown. Innovation is a finite proposition and is about what we know; doing something new with what exists.

Creativity is inspiration, intuition and improvisation thrown at the impossible. It is the art of conceiving something original. Innovation is the implementation of something new, something that has value.

People, not machines, are the creators. Data and algorithms predict, accelerate and enhance, fantastic stuff – but big ideas come from big emotion.

People like technology but people love people.

GEORGE BERNARD SHAW: “THE REASONABLE MAN ADAPTS HIMSELF TO THE WORLD; THE UNREASONABLE ONE PERSISTS IN TRYING TO ADAPT THE WORLD TO HIMSELF. THEREFORE ALL PROGRESS DEPENDS ON THE UNREASONABLE MAN.”

We need the crazy creators here more than ever.

The crazy creators see things the other way.

Steve Jobs: Presence into Absence.

Guy Laliberté: Cirque du Soleil: Removing animals.

Ingvar Kamprad, IKEA founder, flat-packing furniture.

Crazies are big-game players. They crack the case, nail the solution, score the goal, and win the game.

The creativity researcher Frank X. Barron described creative genius as “both more primitive and more cultured, more destructive and more constructive, occasionally crazier and yet adamantly saner, than the average person.”

The creative personality is blessed and cursed with complexity, ambiguity, nonconformity, independence –   and is able to bring order to the madness.

NZ INNOVATORS, INCL STEVE HANSEN

  • John Hood – businessman/administrator
  • Victoria Ransom – Wildfire founder, tech entrepreneur
  • Lorde – singer/songwriter
  • Phil Keoghan – TV star
  • Doug Myers – businessman
  • Parris Goebel – international choreographer
  • Steve Hansen – All Blacks coach
  • Lydia Ko – golf wunderkind
  • Craig Nevill-Manning –  computer scientist Google
  • Murray Brennan – surgeon
  • Audette Exel – philanthropist
  • Jeremy Moon – Icebreaker entrepreneur

New Zealand needs the creators to have the idea and we need the innovators to build and execute it.

NOBEL PHYSICIST ARNO PENZIAS: INVENTION IS THE PRODUCT OF A CREATIVE OR CURIOUS MIND. INNOVATION IS SOMETHING THAT CHANGES THE LIFE OF THE CUSTOMER IN SOME WAY.

Creativity births something original; innovation implements something new that has value for other people.

If it isn’t implemented, it isn’t innovation.

The question on lips today is “How will you improve my life?”

Innovation is about creating priceless value. Not price, not value, but priceless value.

Priceless value has empathetic impact. The Ritz-Carlton went from “Please stay with us” to “Let us stay with you.”

Innovation can be reproduced and scaled. By working on the science and process of innovation, New Zealand can get into the A league of innovators: the likes of Switzerland, Sweden and Germany.

To win from the Edge, we need to accelerate creativity in the next generation, creativity for a world not yet imagined, creations to solve problems we don’t even know we have yet.

For NZ to win in a SuperVUCA world, we must recognize the imperative to recognize and employ creativity in every sector and aspect of life.

Quite the challenge.

We need both the creators and the innovators in our schools, universities, businesses and our government.

We need to teach creativity – it can be learned and developed. We need to encourage early participation in the arts, more time for imaginative play, more focus on developing creative cultures and leaders.

CREATIVITY vs INNOVATION TABLE

CREATIVITY

INNOVATION

Dream

Touch

Sense

Learn

Connect

Persist

Invent

Implement

Transformational

Incremental

Magic

Impact

 

My focus for the next few minutes will be on creativity – and how to build a culture of creativity…because that’s how I’ve spent my last 20 years at Saatchi & Saatchi.

In the Age of the Idea, the cultures with the most original ideas are best placed to win.

An ideas culture runs the only equation I’ve ever written:

IQ + EQ + TQ + BQ, all powered by CQ, creativity.

IQ A unique intellectual point of view is tablestakes. 

EQ Emotion fuels the twin driving forces of today. Not strategy and efficiency, but connectivity and creativity.

TQ Make technology your slave, not vice versa. TQ on its own, without EQ, is when technology fails. Know how people feel.

BQ: The execution factor. Bloody quick!

An ideas culture is built on four pillars:

  • Responsibility
  • Learning
  • Recognition
  • Joy 

Ideas are fragile. Usually, the “Abominable No-Man,” aided and abetted by cynics and contrarians, kills them at birth.

People need to know that being creative is supported and will be valued regardless.

Apply the four pillars in equal measure all the time – in pursuit of an Inspirational Dream. Martin Luther King did not say “I have a mission statement.”

An ideas culture embraces the moment-driven age of consumer mobility, independence, horizontal sharing.

ERA OF NEW

AGE OF NOW

Attention

Participation

Information

Inspiration

Interruption

Interaction

Return on Investment

Return on Involvement

Pumping Markets

Creating Movements

 

Execution then is the killer app. A leap forward is not about getting things done. It’s a culture of making things happen.

Here’s how most organizations ADE, and what innovative organizations do:

A D E

From

To

Assess

50%

20%

Decide

30%

10%

Execute

20%

70%

A good game is a fast game.

WIND UP: To win from the Edge, to unleash New Zealand’s edge, we have to build a culture of creativity and innovation – with Auckland leading the way.

We need a hothouse ideas culture to ignite growth.

Global Auckland is starting to solve its creative culture equation – recently ranked the world’s 3rd most diverse city, 3rd-best city for quality of living, 9th friendliest city. More Australians are emigrating here than New Zealander going there – not sure this is a good thing!

The city ticks good boxes, from investment-friendly to quality of place. Auckland taps into the current generation’s preference for city living, the rise of open innovation and the presence of advanced creative research universities.

The challenge is to fold in Auckland’s innovative strengths and form a unique city proposition, a one-of-a-kind irresistible ideas hub. A place to compete with Barcelona, Bern, Stockholm, Toronto and Seoul.

Where to start? As Steve Jobs said: “creativity is just connecting things.” Connect Auckland’s natural, cultural, academic and commercial assets with intensity, find intersections that spark and spurt growth, and mix in 3Es:

  1. Edge – kiwi creative turbo drive. “It can’t be done” doesn’t exist on the Edge. As Ernest Rutherford said of New Zealand in the 1890s: “We don’t have the money, so we have to think.”
  2. Energy – the pulse factor. Get revved about and rev up creativity. Congrats to Stuart and the university for driving the Creative Thinking Project.
  3. Enthusiasm – the inspiration factor, the juice. Enthusiasts make things happen. An enthusiast is an irresistible force of nature. Be one!

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