Defining the Creative Class thru the Creative Process of “fitting in”

It certainly has been a while since I have had the time to blog on Creativity. I find that new clients consume so much time and energy at the start of a new relationship.  For me, learning what the client wants and how they want it done is all consuming. It involves that process of undergoing a whole new learning curve: the how “to fit in” part. A whole new relationship is formed. It is kinda like falling in love – one has to have a great reserve of emotional intelligence to deal with the “Great Expectations”  – as one undergoes a mutual exploration of strengths and weaknesses. This is especially true in sales where the expectations after hiring are very high and you are kinda sorta expected to deliver on them immediately even though you have yet to learn how the client wants things done, never mind the new script, new presentation, new words, new stance, new research to be assimulated and insights to be gained and then delivered – OR the creative ideas that you throw out as a matter of course, which may or may not be found acceptable to your new partner as you struggle to position yourself in their eyes. In this scientifically based world there are such high demands on deliverables  (shareholders), I should know by now that most only pay lip service to the creative process…

Yes, I have been buzy with a new client. At the same time I was working on a project for another.  Time has slipped by. I managed to slip in the odd tweet  – as microblogging is so 140 characters. Blogging requires more thought, planning and time.

I watched a great video hosted by HP the other day on the Creative Class with, who else?  Richard Forida. This is the video link for it. – although it seems to be having a java script error for me this evening…if it does not work try this one, all audio,  all Richard…

The video is excellent. In it Richard speaks to an American from BIG IDEAS about the Creative Class. Basically, Richard keeps saying to the American,  “…. up in Toronto we are doing this or we are doing that…to encourage the development of the Creative Class….” This is is such a paradigm shift for us “not so confident” Canadians when it comes to innovation. But hey, Richard says we are now living in a POST AMERICAN world. Love that post modern….a whole new school of thought. We are so used to visiting our “American cousins” in order to find out what is happening in the area of innovation. It is a complete flip -peroo…of course, Richard is an American but hey, Toronto is his City and the party does not start till he shows up. Richard says Toronto is “LIKE A GIANT POST GRADUATE CENTRE”  (And to think, I never even graduated from Art School…never mind University…I took off in search of what else….a more stimulating location…another culture…)

In addtion, to the video there is this article on the Creative Class posted at the HP page….from Trump’s School of Wharton


The term “creative class” does not refer to art school graduates working day jobs in coffee shops. And while it does include creative pros, such as art directors and designers, the “creative class” is more than a creative department. It’s what social theorist Richard Florida describes as “people in design, education, arts, music and entertainment, whose economic function is to create new ideas, new technology and/or creative content.”

The Creative Class in the ‘New Normal’ Engaging the Client

According to Wharton marketing professor Jerry Wind, creativity is something that can be learned and enhanced. “Companies can actually enhance the creativity of their people. And leadership can do a lot of things to create a creative culture – one that encourages people to take risks and find creative solutions. It requires encouraging experiments and lessons from failure. Employees should be encouraged to take risks, and know that it’s ok to fail as long as you learn from this.”

Adam M. Grant, professor of management at Wharton and an organizational psychologist, says, “Most creative professionals have a particular end user in mind.” Often the end user is a client of the business, he says, but the end user could be a coworker or anyone else who uses the product. “When you connect creative professionals to the end users,” says Grant, “when they hear the needs those end users have, that encourages the creative professionals to empathize with the end users and find practical ways to help them.” The satisfaction gained from finding a solution to the end user’s problem is often a reward unto itself.

But making that connection isn’t always easy. According to Grant, a lot of creative people don’t get to see the impact of their work or meet the end user. And that’s unfortunate. He offers an example from the technology realm. “If I am designing software programs, one of the things I need to do is gain an understanding of the user’s perspective, watch how they use software and tailor my design to how the end user actually works. But a lot of organizations don’t establish that connection between employees and end users.” Establish that connection, he says, and designers will add value by creating more useful products.

Open Innovation and Technology

Professor Wind adds that a great deal of a company’s creative class innovation may come from the outside. “You realize from the beginning that not all ideas will come from inside. So you open yourself to the outside – including customers – in solution design.” He calls P&G a pioneer in open innovation. “They get about 50% of their products from outside P&G. It used to be much smaller. Even with a 9,000-person R&D group they could not deliver the innovations they needed.”

Wind points to another example of open innovation, this one in advertising: “Look at what’s happening in user-generated content.” Wind says that the most effective TV commercial of the last Super Bowl was the ad for Doritos, which was developed by consumers. “This came from a culture of innovation,” he says. “The more you create such a culture, the more you engage customers in the solution, then the higher the likelihood of coming up with more valuable solutions to them and to the company as well.”

Innovation in technology is especially important in the U.S., says Wind. “We historically believe we have the dominance in R&D and innovation. But we’re losing that dominance. In China and India they are developing sophisticated high-tech products. Singapore has a government office of creativity. It focuses on innovation, communication and creativity.”

Identifying and Optimizing Creative People Creative people breathe life into their organizations. They inspire those around them. So, how can management learn to identify and tap an organization’s creative problem solvers? According to Darren Rowse, vice president at blogging network b5media, highly creative people display a number of traits – curiosity, for one. Creative people tend to ask how, why, and what if? Creative people tend to confront challenges, not run from them. They believe that no challenge is too big to be overcome. And creative people persevere. When the going gets tough, creative people keep going.

Rowse and other creative professionals believe that smart managers should look for these traits among their people. When creative people are identified they should be given more opportunities to solve problems. Whether making difficult tasks easier, dangerous jobs safer, or complicated programs simpler, creative problem solving can add value to practically any organization, especially today.

According to Adam Grant, “We’re moving from an information age to a conceptual age. We need more creative professionals who can identify new problems and solve them in ways that haven’t been considered before. “Research by Teresa Amabile at Harvard and Sigal Barsade and Jennifer Mueller at Wharton shows that positive emotions can drive creativity. Enthusiasm and excitement often drive good ideas; these emotions make us more cognitively flexible. We tend to make more connections between different kinds of ideas, and see things from different kinds of ideas, and see things from different angles.”

Gay Pride Parade in Toronto….”a leading indicator” of an emerging Creative Culture


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