Management Magazine
Hands on Management

Why`crazy`ideas is the way to go

Creativity and Innovation is essential to entrepreneurship; it gets new businesses started and sustains the best companies after they have reached global scale.

By NELSON MUTUA

Overtime some companies have revolutionised the perception and positioning of their brands radically to huge extends. Their monumental successes could not be achieved without exercising crazy ideas as Richard Branson of Virgin Atlantic posits. Apple, alphabet, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook have led in that order for the last three years, overtaking established giants of 19th Century like Coca-Cola through perseverance, creativity and innovation according to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) research on top 100 global brands.

The above five brands have always been leading in coming up with new products and reacting to evolving customer tastes and preferences. Yester brands only focused on channelling products and services to customers without necessarily adjusting to the needs of the evolving customer. With Facebook, twitter, Instagram, and Google you can always know what is trending globally thus global customers are linked.

To overcome the 21st century challenges, creativity has always been at the heart of businesses, but until now it hasn’t been topping the management agenda. Being the ability to create something novel and appropriate, creativity is essential to entrepreneurship; it gets new businesses started and sustains the best companies after they have reached global scale. But perhaps because creativity was considered unmanageable—too elusive and intangible to pin down—or because concentrating on it produced a less immediate payoff than improving execution, it hasn’t been the focus of most managers’ attention.

Corporate brand personality

The three core dimensions of corporate brand personality and two traits for each dimension that are crucial for marketplace success are outlined as Passionate and Compassionate (Heart), Creative and Disciplined (Mind) and Agile and Collaborative (Body). These traits have an interactive effect such that the effects of one trait can be enhanced by the existence of another. If the brand were to come alive as a person, what would it be like? What would it do? Where would it live? What would it wear? Who would it talk to? What would it talk about? These are questions that have to be answered by CEOs of any of the brand that wants to lead. Richard Branson, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet personify these questions for their brands and no wonder any brand they touch succeeds.

Strategic leadership

Any strategic leader should be deliberate on the environment they exuberate in the organisation in order to encourage creativity and for innovation to thrive. Toxic environments amongst strategic and tactic level leaders often cause operational level leaders to be suppressed hence avoiding any strategies or processes that lead them out of normal institutional processes and policies. Dan Pontefract a senior strategist writer on Forbes magazine once wrote, “If CEOs and senior leaders cannot act as creative thinking role models—succumbing to operational minutiae and constantly coming across as stressed out and too busy to dream—how is the rest of the organisation going to behave? As with most aspects of an organisation, the habits at the top are often mimicked by those below.”

Steve Jobs, Founder of Apple proved that having a passion for solving problems, working tirelessly, and paying attention to what people want are some of the main ingredients for success. Jobs was open to the idea that others were just as smart as him or even smarter, so he was willing to learn from others. In 1997, his true brilliance emerged as a visionary leader who revamped the company into the brand that everyone knows today.

The CEO’s job is like no other in the organisation. It is infinite. Senior executives are, by definition, ultimately responsible for every decision and action of every member of the company, including those decisions and actions of which they are not aware. 

Eyes on the competition

CEOs are aware that yesterday’s solutions do not solve today’s problems. Success in today’s global economy depends on ability to identify the insights your competitors miss. Relying on yesterday’s ideas, products and certainties will spell failure. To unleash the creative potential within yourself, your team and your company, you need to go through strategic planning by identifying evolving strategic patterns and generating ideas on how they can be applied to your organisation. Invest in abstract thinking whereby teams will learn to develop and analyse the ideas, images, and data that come from exploring relationships, patterns and associations. Invest also in creative techniques and activities for the units, which will foster creativity by exploring and sharing several possible solutions.  Lastly, always encourage curiosity among your people who will find the root cause of the problem and workable solutions.

Nelson Mutua is a PhD student at University of Nairobi. Email: nekiegh@gmail.com

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