A key factor for success of a digital transformation program is the ability of teams to leverage creative ways of working and link this with a faster and ultimately better pipeline for delivery of digital services and solutions. Many teams struggle to align the creative resources that power early stage innovation with the execution teams who deliver product or solutions. Organisations who build a high-performance digital culture that harnesses the power of creativity and link the outputs achieved during early stage innovation through the delivery of initiatives to market are more likely to extract more value from their digital investments. I call this being “commercially creative”.
Creative people think and act differently. They challenge the status quo, are inspired by opportunities and when communicating think and speak in stories. Commercially minded people are more analytical with the ability to collect and analyse information, problem-solve, and make decisions with an objective to improve upon productivity and success. The two types of thinking are critical to the success of a transformation program although they both find it difficult to see value in each other’s work. An analytically minded person will find it difficult to make decisions supported only by insights and intuition. They usually find spaces that foster creativity such as an innovation lab messy and disorganised. On the other hand, creative resources will find those analytically minded too structured and interpret this as an inability to think outside the box.
A team’s creative resources motivated by the opportunity to explore new ways to solve a problem will bring back an array of ideas sourced through qualitative research. They will sell the solution they recommend through stories collected from observing people experiencing real situations highlighting reactions and rationalising the benefits through emotions. When analytical resources are asked to solve a problem, they will deliver a solution validated through the evaluation of data and sell the solution through the connection to easily measurable outputs like efficiencies or financial outcomes.
Through the formation of cross functional teams, we believe that combining the diversity of creative and analytical thinkers will ensure that we are able to creatively identify new opportunities or solutions to our most common problems whilst setting the project up on the right path to deliver positive commercial outcomes. Even with diverse teams many organisations struggle to connect their innovation activities to business outcomes. The solution is not always building bigger backlogs and finding new ways to deliver faster through more sophisticated agile programs. Innovative solutions that have a positive business outcome can be achieved through developing a way of working that connects the unique attributes of your creative and analytically minded resources in a way that empowers them to merge data and design.