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At the Heart of Creativity and Innovation is Heart

Ed Catmull, Co-Founder Pixar Animation Studios and President Disney Animation Studios, opened day two of the Front End of Innovation.

I am a Pixar tragic! I’ve cried watching some movies and cried at my children’s delight in others. Ed opened with “Pixar makes movies for the child within the adult”. I completely concur. Creatives have big hearts. They must have to keep bouncing back. After bouncing back, they look for reasons and indicators, clues and identifiers so they don’t make the same mistakes again.

Catmull is big on removing the hierarchy of power and operating with transparency. Transparency is often used as a buzz word but Catmull had his heart in it. If you want to take the risk out of creativity and innovation, create a brains trust. The rules of engagement are that you operate peer to peer, there is no power structure in the room, you have the safety of saying exactly what you need to, and everyone contributes equally. Not that hard. Or is it?

Ed Callum gave many examples where taking risks was much lower than what we imagined it to be. We continue to need permission to fail fast, learn and try again. Risk becomes an overexaggerated block, fueled by fear of failure. When we’re fueled by fear when problems surface, our mindset isn’t conducive to problem solving and the whole thing becomes a downward spiral. When we operate through safety, all things are possible. Research is out on that as well!

Lowe’s Innovation Labs are a case study in partnerships and collaborations. From robots that assist in identifying low shelf stock to Exosuits preventing back injuries, and Holoroom helping customers design bathrooms, they have forged some pretty impressive associations. None were more impressive than their claim on printing the first tool in space, a wrench, on the International Space Station.

It baffles me that Design Thinking is not a common methodology practiced by all organisations, all the time. Lee Moreau from Continuum walked us through the process of improving the airline experience for Southwest customers. Continuum make things real. And they really work on the customer experience. They reduced the trivialities of flight travel at Southwest, something that may not suit all travelers but will certainly suit those seeking a faster and smoother travel experience. And they did this by walking a mile in Southwest customers’ shoes.

I was sold on Southwest when I learned some years ago about the 10-minute plane turnaround and how the whole staff were consulted in developing the processes. What they are planning now is even more revolutionary. And it’s all about earning the trust of their clients and living by their One Team All Heart philosophy. And ideating and prototyping and acting of course!

We are increasingly discovering that the mind, heart and gut are interrelated, joined via the vagus nerve. Seek Company’s Tim Urmston spoke of how we “keep trying to logic our way through human problems” when it is our emotional intelligence that we use most of the time. It’s no secret that often purchase decisions are made through the limbic brain and that the larger the purchase, the more we rely on our feelings to make our final decisions.

When we prototype, when we are investigating solutions to problems, we need to immerse ourselves in our clients’ experiences. That’s how we will stand out. That’s where we will make a difference.

Kathy Fish, Chief Research, Development and Innovation Officer for P&G closed the day with further case studies on how clients and their hearts should be at the top of our minds when creating and innovating. She won my heart as she spoke about creating “irresistible client experiences”. That implies joy. And joy is contagious.

P&G are creating products with purpose. From lingerie offering femininity and dignity to those with incontinence (one in every three women!) through to the Pure naturals range and Gillette Tre, a razor for care givers to use on elderly men who can no longer shave themselves, heart went into the creation and development of each product. And then into the marketing and promotion.

At the end of the talks, the conference delegates gathered and shared a drink and a story or two. They lingered longer and headed out together. I would suggest some heart connections were made that will outlast the last day of the conference.

About the Author: Christina Gerakiteys is the Founder of UtopiaX and IdeationWorX, She is an ideation, innovation and creativity catalyst, and writes innovation programs that awaken hearts and minds to what is possible.

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