I suggest you read this month’s (June 2009) Fast Company magazine, specifically its cover story on “The 100 Most Creative People in Business.” Creativity, of course, is in the eye of the beholder and sitting down to pick a mere 100 from the tens of thousands who could be considered is a highly subjective exercise. Nevertheless, I applaud Fast Company for drawing our attention to some of the globe’s most creative individuals and the enormous impact they have on innovation and business.
Fast Company’s 100 includes creative thinkers and doers from a wide array of fields, such as medicine, technology, fashion, philanthropy, government and academia. Their list includes some household names (e.g., Melinda Gates), and appropriately, many who are not-so-familiar. Professions comprise technologists, designers, artists, creative directors, CEOs, inventors — and even the Chairman of the FDIC, Sheila Bair.
“Sheila Bair’s combination of foresight, consistency, effective use of resources, and sensible ideas to secure the banking system looks pretty creative—and significant—to us,” says Fast Company. More traditional members of the 100 include people like Lee Clow, Global Director of Media Arts at TBWA\Worldwide, who has been the creative brains behind some of the most memorable and provocative ad campaigns for Apple, Adidas, Nike and Sony – and who coined the campaign “Think Different.”
Others on the list include Neri Oxman, a Presidential Fellow at the MIT Media Lab, who is creating new nano-materials for construction. That may not sound too sexy, but her work helps lead to cutting-edge innovations in manufacturing processes – and that’s her photo on the June cover of Fast Company (above). According to the article, Oxman helps blur the boundaries between architecture, product design, and art.
The point is this: business innovation starts with employees who think more creatively. Make sure your company is doing everything it can to identify, nurture, and develop the creativity that already exists within the employees. Establish your own most creative top 10, 50 or 100 list in your organization.
Most important, demonstrate to your employees that your company puts a premium on creativity and the role it can play toward more innovative products, services or processes. Now that’s a sexy proposition that should have some appeal for your shareholders.