It was pouring down with heavy rain and we were stuck in a heavy traffic jam on the toll road taking us home from a lovely 4 day sunny sojourn in the stunning Mediterranean seaport of Eilat, on the southern tip of Israel. Thank heavens for technology! After meandering through the latest Facebook posts, I opened my Kindle and shared the first chapters of my latest and most profound literary find ‘How Google Works.’ Amazingly there was the very exact description I had been seeking for ages, as the target user profile in my ImagineNation™ product portfolio – the smart creative, a product of adaptive learning and a great living example of learning agility.
Be-ing a ‘smart creative’!
Three key technology trends have converged to fundamentally shift the playing field in most industries.
1. The Internet has made information free, copious, and ubiquitous— almost everything is available online.
2. Mobile devices and networks have made global reach and continuous connectivity widely available.
3. Cloud computing 10 has put practically infinite computing power and storage and a host of sophisticated tools and applications at everyone’s disposal, on an inexpensive, pay-as-you-go or free basis.
Why is this important?
From a consumer perspective the convergence of these three technological waves has made the impossible possible and from a corporate perspective it has resulted in three key factors of production becoming cheaper – information, connectivity, and computing power “affecting any cost curves in which those factors are involved and that this can’t help but have disruptive effects.”
“These factors are abundant, lowering or eliminating barriers to entry and making entire industries ripe for change”.
“The result of all this turmoil is that product excellence is now paramount to business success-not control of information, not a stranglehold on distribution, not overwhelming marketing power (although these are still important)”.
• Consumers have more choices (and power) than they have ever had!
• Product excellence is now the critical success factor due to the fact that the cost of experimentation and failure has dropped significantly.
• Prototypes can be modeled digitally with a 3-D printer, can be market tested online, designs can be adjusted based on the resulting data, and even production funds can be raised online with a prototype or clever video.
• Collaboration is easier, across a room, a continent and the globe making the business eco-system concept a viable, attractive and accessible development.
“Product development has become a faster, more flexible process, where radically better products don’t stand on the shoulders of giants, but on the shoulders of lots of iterations. The basis for success then, and for continual product excellence, is speed”.
The birth of the adaptive learner
If we add these points to a webinar I attended recently hosted by IBM Learning, where a completely different set of competencies was outlined; which they encapsulated and described as an ‘adaptive learner’. Stating that “innovation is the art of combination” where designers, developers and engineers (and supervisors, managers and leaders) are required to combine their ‘expert intuition’ (and knowledge, skills and experience) with ‘strategic intuition’ (and innovative thinking).
Where ‘not knowing’ and having an open mind and heart is allowing people to better flow with, and not resist, the discomfort of cognitive dissonance and creative tension.
These are fast becoming the new rules of the business and entrepreneurship game boosting innovative thinking and acting in this new world where employees have incredible impact!
So what is a smart creative?
According to Google, these people are the key to success in the Internet Century. Google describes them as someone who combines “business savvy, technical knowledge, creative energy and a hands on approach to getting things done.”
– Is not confined to a specific task, and has access to all of the company’s information and computing power, who is not adverse to taking risks, and is not punished when failure happens.
– Is not restricted by organizational structure or role definitions and who is encouraged to exercise their own ideas.
– Doesn’t keep quiet when they disagree, get bored easily and shift jobs a lot.
– Is multi dimensional, in that they combine technical depth with business savvy and creative flair.
Key qualities of smart creative’s
1. Experts in doing; they design and build, are able to analyze and conceptualize & use data rigorously to make informed business decisions.
2. Business smart; they see and practice the lines of sight between technical expertise, product excellence and business success.
3. Competitive smart; they are driven by their own sense of passionate purpose and desire to create ‘great’ things.
4. User smart; they understand the end product from the user’s perspective and act an ‘obsessive user’ in their own right.
5. Generates creative ideas & is curiously creative; that are genuinely new, are open to multiple perspectives and plays the perspective chameleon when required. Always questioning, debating and seeking problems to solve in their individualistic way.
6. Risky, collaborative and takes the initiative and is a good and open communicator.
“Their common characteristic is that they work hard and are willing to question the status quo and attack things differently. This is why they can have such an impact. It is also why they are uniquely difficult to manage, especially under old models, because no matter how hard you try, you can’t tell people like that how to think. If you can’t tell someone how to think, then you have to learn to manage the environment where they think. And make it a place where they want to come every day”.
How to adapt and be-come a ‘smarter creative’ and flourish in 2015
It all comes down to having the self efficacy, courage, confidence, curiosity and compassion to be different, no matter the depth of your expert knowledge, your role, organizational structure or occupation by being:
– Flexible in developing the capacity to think differently in multiple perspectives by operating from emergence, detachment and allowing paying deep attention, see the possibilities and opportunities problems offer us with fresh eyes.
– Safe in ‘not knowing’ the answer or the solution but how to generate it through provocation and disagreement, deep inquiry, listening and debate.
– Receptive and cultivate skills in the innovative thinking methodologies including design, associating, lean and agile, to ideate hypothetical solutions that may not have previously existed.
– Receptive and cultivate skills in acting differently through teaming, networking, smart risk taking and experimenting with innovative business models and prototypes.
By applying adaptive learning to develop these ‘smart creative’ being, thinking and acting differently states and skills, we have the possibility of maximizing deviance’s and diversity that exist in our working worlds.
To safely generate disruptive debate and disagreements that co-create innovative ideas and solutions that users value and cherish, in our interconnected 21st century internet based world.
At ImagineNation™ we provide innovation and leadership coaching, education and culture consulting to help businesses achieve their innovation goals. Because we have done most of the learning and actioning of new hybrid mindsets, behaviors and skill-sets already, we can help your businesses also do this by opening people up to their innovation potential.