Strategic creativity sounds like an oxymoron; it’s reminiscent of “organized chaos.” While strategy and creativity appear to be opposites at first glance, neither is optional for innovative businesses. It can be tempting to remove creativity from the equation in an effort to mitigate risk with strategic, data-driven decision making. However, just as relying solely on creativity is not a sound business plan, neither is operating based on strategy alone. For an organization to reach its full potential, it must embrace thinking strategically and creatively.
Creativity in Strategy
Strategy, for many inventive companies, is about analyzing patent data, market research, sales figures, technology landscapes, and many other informative datasets. Strategy is not complete without creative problem solving, however. That’s because coming up with good ideas isn’t enough; an organization needs novel ideas to succeed. Being too rigid—for example, trying to make an existing solution work because it solved a problem in the past—limits the chances your R&D team makes an industry-changing discovery. Instead, as globally recognized Boston Consulting Group puts it, sometimes you have to “zig-zag.”
This isn’t to say that strategy isn’t worthwhile. Data-backed insights can guide engineers and researchers toward creativity in the areas with the most potential.
Strategy in Creativity
In the more traditional understanding of creativity, artists, inventors, and entrepreneurs wait for an idea to strike—an “Aha!” moment. Strategic creativity requires structured, systematic innovation: tools and techniques that lead businesses to novel ideas. Many exist; IP.com’s IQ Ideas Plus™ offers guided ideation based on TRIZ methodology. Adding artificial constraints, such as time, money, or material limitations, is another way to “force” creativity.
Reaching Strategic Creativity
Even now, you may feel uncomfortable with the notion that strategy and creativity can, and should, coexist. In order to fully realize the benefits of strategic innovation, an organization must be okay with failure and accept the risk that comes with it. Adding elements of strategy to creativity does not eliminate the possibility that some ideas are not good solutions. Building a strategic, creative team requires diversity of knowledge and experiences along with a commitment to ongoing education. Most importantly, everyone involved must question the status quo and use a combination of data-driven insights and outside-the-box thinking to challenge the way things are done.