At a time when products, services and ideas can seemingly be replicated overnight, innovation and creativity have mainstreamed. More and more, businesses no longer view creativity as something to do with the art they hang on their boardroom walls – they see it as a business essential. Steve Jobs’ biography has become a business bestseller and a business school case study, arguing, as it does, that Apple’s position at the nexus of creativity, innovation and technology was responsible for its success.
Sure, many businesses still struggle with how to access or leverage creative thinking – but few business people doubt its importance. So there has never been a higher premium on the power of ideas and on the people who specialise in the business of inspiration. These are the type of creative leaders who feature in Talking Inspiration, a series of features that explore where they get their ideas from and how they turn those ideas into action.
The first five interviews feature Maurice Lévy, the chief executive of Publics Groupe; Sir John Hegarty, the founder of Bartle Bogle Hegarty; Sir Peter Bazalgette, the former chief creative officer of Endemol; Daniel Bonner, the chief creative officer of Razorfish; and Rory Sutherland, the vice-chairman of OgilvyOne.
They all come from different parts of the media and marketing empire, but they are unified by their belief in the primacy of creative ideas.
Lévy talks about having a voracious appetite for learning about technology and speaks eloquently about its potential to transform people’s lives and work. But, he argues with equal energy that, ultimately, ideas come first.
For Hegarty, inspiration is a question of observing the human condition, watching life unfold around you and allowing it to feed the imagination. He tells the story of how he came upon the idea for a celebrated Audi ad on a rainy day, when he saw a couple under a brolly, walking next to each other in perfect step.
Bazalgette addresses the process of inspiration and what advertising taught television executives about starting with a brief and working in teams and to a deadline. He was also an early exponent of the cross-genre approach: in his case, borrowing not just the process of creating advertising, but the principles too – simple, big, populist ideas – and applying them to television.
Bonner, on the other hand, thinks small in order to think big. He believes that small ideas are more agile, purposeful and contagious, and more likely to resonate with people and drive bigger change over time.
And Sutherland talks breathlessly about quantum mechanics, strategic planning, technology, anthropology and the "cognitive diversity" that is required to develop creative ideas today.
We work in an industry that loves to share – just look at Private View in the back of this magazine to see how much we enjoy reviewing each other’s work.
Talking Inspiration could encourage us all to learn more about our own creative drivers and give us the confidence to share where we look to for our ideas. After all, in today’s business, more than ever we all have to be creative thinkers. So the more we talk inspiration, the better.
Marc Nohr is the chief executive of Kitcatt Nohr Digitas
To watch Talking Inspiration click here.