Rare is the mind that can develop strategic directions within a diverse company. Or a new financial tranche for financial advantages. Or data mine new customer buying preferences.
Rare also is the mind that can make a logo represent a company’s vision. Or an ad headline that sticks and spreads. Or tell a story through a viral video.
But the most critical mind to any enterprise’s talent pool is the mind that understands the importance of all those activities. And that can create aligned plans to pull them together.
I spent much of my life pursuing jazz music and hanging out with creative people in the literature and music spaces. My worldview was influenced by visionary people trying to express the inexpressible. People totally comfortable in that place that one poet describes as finding “the far-flung indicators of a missing center.”*
(A poet said that. But haven’t you heard the same sentiment in your strategic planning sessions? Or from your branding people? More on that in a bit.)
I ended up directing marketing and communications for a business school. And yes: getting an MBA. I live in an unusual in-between space where the strategic and quantitative dimensions of business naturally and comfortably connect to art of it.
Dan Pink’s book A Whole New Mind wonderfully articulates the power of creative minds (the term used here in its original, un-agency sense) and their emerging importance in business. My take on his main idea is that creative people instinctively understand certain tenants that are absolutely critical to make the U.S. economy (and your business) thrive.
Some of the most crucial needs in an enterprise are those practiced every day by artists and creative minds. Think about it. The ability to win in your space depends on finding talent to do these things better than your competition:
Forget about how ad agencies describe this. Think about those big ideas that seemingly come out of nowhere in a strategic planning session that find the blue ocean for your service. The breakthrough code that leads to increased margins on your e-commerce site. The power of design in decision making.
Anyone who thinks empathy is a so-called soft skill doesn’t have an interest in understanding customers. Or doesn’t value the power of teamwork within an organization.
Every organization has those moments where, in a blink, an unseen opportunity presents itself and fast decisions need to be made. Quick: map it to your strategy and your context. What do you do? You react, or you fall behind.
Connection (or as I call it, Syncopation)
Connecting seemingly disparate data and aligning them into a cohesive story. The stuff of strategic planning. The stuff of branding.
AT’s big difference? The business acumen to understand context. The creative ability to pull it together for effective execution.