By Bruce Nussbaum. In 2011, Dr. Dre was an unhappy hip hop music producer and businessman. He had built n empire on his kind of music, studio music played in clubs for serious dancing. He had designed a very specific music profile–heavy at the bottom but with clarity and good range. He was proud of the artists who played this music and angry because his fans couldn’t hear it. No matter how good the sound came out of his studio, standard and even high end headphones didn’t play it right. “Artisits and producers work hard in the studio perfecting their sound,” he says in my new book, Creative Intelligence, “but…most headphones can;tg handle the bass, the detail, the dynamics.” So Dr. Dre teamed up with with product designer Bob Brunner and together they’ve built a billion dollar business–Beats (well two companies actually since Brunner went on to launch his own successful design/venture business, Ammunition).
The secret of that success? Aura. Dr. Dre and Bob Brunner created a way of crafting a product line that beckoned a huge audience with its promise of sweet music. It entranced them, engaged them, provided a means of shaping their identity and joining a community. I called that Framing the Narrative and Framing the Engagement in my book and show how powerful it can be–just look at the haunting pull of the Mona Lisa to this day.
We live in an age of cascading change that is pushing us to be more creative, more innovative. In fact, anyone managing in a corporation or any organization faces the challenging task of building an innovation culture simply to survive. Creative Intelligence is a book designed to help these innovation builders. It offers a clear and simple set of skills designed to help anyone in any field to become more creative. They are creative competencies that can be learned. And together they form a literacy of creativity that can form the foundation of an innovation culture.
I’ll be posting regularly on innovation and creativity–how to build it and how to manage it. Here is the first post describing the 5 Creative Competencies of Creative Intelligence:
KNOWLEDGE MINING. The old concept we use is “needs” or “unmet needs.” But today’s most creative entrepreneurs, thinkers and artists try to understand what is meaningful to people. Meaningfulness is the deeper concept. And what is meaningful is often embodied within ourselves–our demographic, our clan, our ethnic group, our nationality, our culture. That’s where many startup innovators begin. They mine the knowledge that they already embody. And when they can’t, they cast out from themselves and partner with people who are more embedded in a culture than they are.
Then they connect the dots. People who are creative routinely mine knowledge domains and connect existing information in new ways (shoes and the internet, really?). Mining for meaning is a key competence.
FRAMING/REFRAMING is the new iteration of “storytelling.” Framing our narrative is a powerful social media tool. Narratives provide the way we interpret the world, the way we order new data. Reframe that narrative and you change that understanding. Learning that we have many narratives in our lives and we can change them–perhaps should change them–is very important. We also frame our many engagements with people and things. We engage with our lovers, our employees, our bosses, our friends our purveyors of clothes, movies, food, finance in different ways. We can design and frame those engagements and optimize that frame. Framing is powerful.
PLAYING and GAMING need to be elevated to serious, critical creative competencies because it is the behavior that increasingly drives technologies, businesses and our own actions. Creativity can be found in all kinds of “play-grounds,” where people find trusted buddies to experiment, mess around, fail, try again–without disaster striking. We need to build our own play-grounds at work and in our lives where we can make up new rules, discover different ways of winning. We associate playgrounds with our children, but Navy Seals, genomic scientists, engineers all “play” at discovering solutions to challenges.
And we need to dump the fetishism of failure. “Fail fast, fail often” is a Silicon Valley mantra that is needs to be replaced by “Play often, play fast.”
MAKING is back after an era of outsourcing, strategizing, financing and consulting. We want to make again and with digital 2D and 3D tools (like digital fabrication), we are embracing it. Learning by doing has always been a US philosophy (thank you John Dewey). Making reflects our desire to engage and participate in all aspects of our lives–especially social media. We make our lives, our identities, our stuff.
PIVOTING/SCALING creativity to actual creation and capitalism integrates creativity directly into our economic system–where it belongs. Creativity is the true source of economic value and we often forget that in the rush for efficiency or trading or finance. Truly creative people don’t stop with the original idea but make the pivot into creating products and services that enter the marketplace.
Pivoting often requires a “wanderer,” a General Manager, an art patron, a teacher, a coach, a person with the resources to take your idea and make it happen. Kickstarter proves that crowds can be your “wanderer,” but it is still true that your family and friends often provide the first burst of support for scaling, followed by more formal scalers. Do you know who are your personal “wanderers?