Sally Taylor, Executive Director of The Culture Capital Exchange (TCCE), asks the questions, “can creativity save the business world?” Here is her article that appeared in the Professional section of The Guardian on 20th February 2012.
According to IBM’s most recent global CEO study, the majority of CEOs believe the key to navigating today’s volatile, uncertain and increasingly complex business environment is creativity. Is this just business leaders talking the talk or are 21st-century businesses really committed to being creative?
Next month, The Culture Capital Exchange, a new membership organisation of 11 London universities, will bring together business leaders, cultural and creative entrepreneurs, academics and artists for a conference on the value, connections and interventions between creativity and business. They will debate whether these sectors could become more fertile by working together – and how.
Dynamics between creativity, business and research are changing in response to a hostile economic climate and delegates will be challenged to think about their place within this triangular relationship in new ways. The key questions: is creativity really more sought after now than ever, and if so, why? How does the corporate sector value creativity and vice versa? What are the pros and cons of government intervention in cultivating creativity?
Academics such as professor Clive Holtham from Cass Business School argue that although CEOs might respond positively to the IBM survey, whether and how creativity is central to their business is quite another matter. It might be encouraged in the middle, or indeed recruited for in the lower echelons of a company, but when push comes to shove, the driver for decision making at board level is all about the bottom line. Thefinance men rule. If graduates have been recruited on criteria that require creative input how long they will last in a company which does not nurture it?
The creative industries know that it takes fresh thinking and innovation to stay ahead of the game in an international market place and increasingly, the government seems to be looking to the creative industries to drive the UK economy out of recession. How then is creativity best managed, and what does creativity in leadership look like?
Does it for example look like global firm Arup, whose success (according to Arup fellow Tristram Carfrae) is predicated on employing creative people throughout the company and learning how to manage them. Or is creativity confined for the most part to the margins of a business, for example its branding and marketing?
Professor Giovanni Schiuma’s recent book, The Value of Arts for Business, argues that the innovation, thinking patterns and emotional intelligence which the arts can offer to business equip organisations with new tools to challenge old and possibly ingrained ways of thinking. If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got.
There is no doubt that lessons can be learnt from the arts (and the artistic process) that could nurture creativity in business. Some inspirational case studies will be presented at the conference, such asSamsung’s Digital Arts prize and how the arts can contribute to the development of business, including digital businesses.
But to what extent is intervention, in particular government intervention, necessary or sufficient? One view is that it’s usually too little too late. As in the arts world, by the time the government is on board with support, which is also likely to include several layers of bureaucracy, either the bandwagon has moved on or the businesses that will thrive have already done so, and those failing are failing for the right reasons.
Katie Greenyer from the Pentland group argues that globalisation is great as an ambition, but that businesses need to be supported quickly and easily at a local level. Ultimately then, we will ask whether the penny has finally dropped – that it is people we must invest in rather than buildings.
Creativity and Business: Connectivity, Values and Interventions is at the British Library on 12 March. Book your tickets here.
This article was originally published by The Guardian on