Ring Lesson #2: Fight with Anxiety-Inducing Creativity
The theme for FUSE this year is Change by Design. Change seems to be a recurring theme within a lot of general conversations. Why? Because change is inevitable, necessary and we as human beings like/need to talk about things that scare us. Change is scary. And as Clark Scheffy from IDEO stated, change is also hard. Today’s speakers collectively addressed the topic of Change by Design from very different experiences. It was a day filled with inspiring lessons learned from Facebook, Dolby, Coke, Apple, Citi, Kiehl’s, Kellogg’s and new to FUSE (I think), DreamWorks Animation and Cirque du Soleil. My main takeaway from today is what I am calling Ring Lesson #2 – Fight with Anxiety-Inducing Creativity. (I shared Ring Lesson #1 prior to the conference. You can see that here.)
Here's what pleasantly surprised me today. You see, as a design professional, we expect to hear about design, design-thinking, design leaders, design, design, design day-in and day-out at these events. Marcia, Marcia, Marcia, right? Well, not so. A common thread coming through today was less about Design and more about creativity and play. Did you notice that one of our gathering rooms is even called the Learn and Play room? I spent a lot of time in that room today.
On creativity, we were reminded loud and clear that we live in the days of experimentation and need for flexibility. The world moves so fast that we need to be able to adapt and overcome, constantly. Further, Stephen Gates, the gregarious global head of design at Citi very directly stated that companies want creativity. Design is only one of the many outputs of creativity. If we only focus on design, we become a commodity. We know there is always someone who can "design" faster and cheaper. Creating an environment that fosters creativity produces something so much bigger and more valuable. Change the way a company thinks, you’ll change the way it behaves. It sounds like Gates has had great success in helping Citi leaders recognize the need for creativity and ultimately loosen the reins that had constricted the brand in the past. Leading with creativity.
Brian Robinson of DreamWorks Animation shared his history of risk-taking for brands including Target and JCP. With tremendous energy Brian shared how his past failures created resiliency. Brian had some harrowing, anxiety-inducing experiences. These experiences, losing and feeling failure is what leads the most innovative brands toward success. Similar to Stephen Gates' perspective on unleashing creativity, Brian leads by empowering a team to get "knocked out." Failure allows space to grow and learn. It's ok to lose (contrary to what helicopter parents tell their children!). When you get knocked out, it's time to fight. Courage breaks the boundaries of innovation.
Gillian Ferrabee, former director for the Creative Lab at Cirque du Soleil brought it all together for me at the end of the day. Energy exudes from Gillian. (I am thinking about inviting her to my next girls weekend. She'd be a blast.) Toward the beginning of Gillian's talk she said, "the most sustainable relationships are based on creativity, wonder and play." Yes! When we use creativity to design experiences we have opportunities to engage, pull people in and create a bond. Gillian pulled me in to her talk through her creativity and storytelling. She commanded the FUSE stage and I now feel connected to her as a person. Whatever she's selling, I'm buying.
Leading up to FUSE, the Capsule team has been digging in to the disturbing statistic that people wouldn't care if 73% of the brands in their lives disappeared. Again, to be in that 27% of brands that people hold dear, I say, it's time to fight with anxiety-inducing creativity. Make some mistakes and come back even stronger.
Until then, I'll see you at Fontainebleau for some FUSE cocktails.