Joint Founder & CEO
Joint Founder & CEO
Why creativity is the source of future business prosperity
What really distinguishes highly successful companies from their competitors? What do they do differently? What do the American “GAFA” companies (Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple) and the Chinese “BAT” companies (Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent) have in common? Why do they leave their European competitors behind?
Yes, they are tech companies. But more than that, they are creative companies. Truly creative companies. It´s not only that they offer creative solutions and products. They are creative themselves. In their companies’ culture, in their processes and structures. Even in their corporate and consumer communications. It’s even in their CEOs’ behavior: Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs and Jack Ma act more like popstars rather than traditional company leaders. Hierarchies are few, they are open to discussion, teams are diverse, and they’re willing to make mistakes. It´s about creativity. “Total creativity”.
The GAFA and BATs’ success is proof of Richard Floridas´ creative class theory: that creativity is the most important resource of the future, for companies and for countries. That´s good news for us as communication and marketing professionals. And we, the marketing people, are the ones who need to spread the news: creativity is key. For all our future.
Speaking of creativity, we´re not talking about the arts, or award-winning advertising. We are talking about “total creativity”. About how GAFA and BAT companies work. Constantly changing and challenging themselves. Surprising and amazing their customers with constant innovations. Who could have predicted that Amazon would grow from an online bookstore to a company that sells anything, anywhere, any time? Kindle, Prime, Marketplace, Alexa. And in three years’ time they´ll probably be bringing our beer with a drone.
Many more of those inspiring examples – far beyond the GAFA and BAT stories – feature in our recently published book: “Kreativiert Euch!” or in English, “Let´s creativate!”. We spoke to entrepreneurs and marketeers from adidas and Media Markt as well as small and medium-sized businesses around Germany and Switzerland, including HHP, Umantis and elobau. We met Nicolas Sadiracs from the computer science university “42” in Paris, and teachers from a comprehensive school in the small town of Weierheide. We talked to Professor Arne Dietrich about neuroscience and creativity, looked into the administration of the Danish City of Kolding, and Christian Banson, a consultant to the Danish Government. We examined BMW’s “project i”, and the new Axel Springer campus in Berlin.
There are many examples of “creativation” boosting people, teams, governments and companies – we just need so much more of them.
We used these learnings to show that in times of ever-faster globalization and digitalization, it’s essential that ideas can be formed in any possible context and by everyone involved.
How do you do that?
First, adapt to the principles of new work. Old-fashioned, hierarchic workplaces won´t allow any company to be successful in the changing economic world.
Second, invest in infrastructure that enables creativity. That means technological infrastructure as well as office spaces: shared workplaces and meeting points, with single-person cubicles consigned to history.
Third, find, promote and celebrate creative potential! Open up, and involve everybody in the process of developing solutions; of being creative. Have everybody using their creative potential, have the whole organization be creative – choose total creativity over siloed creativity.
This process of tearing down the silos, adapting to total creativity, is what we call “creativation”.
Who should be doing it?
This is our call to companies, politicians and educators. We advise companies to appoint a Chief Creativation Officer. Someone who makes sure that the three steps to total creativity above are observed: there is a creative culture and the right infrastructure, and the business finds, promotes and celebrates creative potential throughout the company. This will boost both the acceptance of total creativity and economic success alike.
But our call doesn´t stop there. It goes far beyond individual companies and even whole sectors of the economy. We’re calling on society to make a creative u-turn.
We’re calling for a Federal Ministry of Creativation. The truth is, politicians need to understand that creativity will be the main source of economic success in the years to come. A Federal Ministry of Creativation would send an extraordinarily strong signal to society.
And as it always comes down to the next generation, we´re challenging the education system. We call for creativation in schools and in university classes, as creativation starts with education.
Finally, we´re displaying our strong belief that creativation will lead to a more human, more open-minded society. Those who are truly creative don´t believe in the past but believe in freedom.
Dear reader, to all you marketeers and communications pros: spread the word - let´s creativate!
The authors and the Hirschen Group
Bernd Heusinger, Marcel Loko and Martin Blach are creative entrepreneurs. Together they founded the Hirschen Group, now one of the most successful communications consultancies in the German-speaking world, with 800 employees in nine cities. As globalization and digitalization speed up, they provide consultation services to organizations and institutions seeking digital and creative transformation.