Tim Billings Talk on Creative Minds

In yesterday’s post I mentioned I went to Tim Billings talk organised by the IPA in the Melting Pot But I was too immersed into the service design debate as to comment on the event.

To be completely honest, I was expecting more. In my option it was a bit too shallow (for a £25 event).

I am aware that more than 15 years of experience in creative businesses cannot be shared in an hour. However I am also sure a bit more depth could have been achieved. 

What I found most interesting of the talk was one slide about the evolution of IDEO as a design firm through out the past 20 years. Every 3 or 5 years a new component was added to the business offer. It passed from product development, to engineering and technology focused, to incorporating human factors, to human computer interaction, to brand design, to end up excelling as strategy makers. If they hadn’t evolved that way, it is likely the company haven’t gone that far, as the component of product engineering within the company has been lost on its way.

I found also very interesting Tim’s points about growing a small creative company. When creative companies start up, the only possible approach is the do-it-all approach. The challenge, and this is something I have frequently discussed with our partners at Moving Targets – is how do you grow from there? At some point – if you want to grow the company – you need to delegate. But where should the founders stand, in the management or in the creative side?
I still don’t have an answer for that… but I’ll be giving it a deeper thought.

The rest of the talk went around recruiting strategies (young people with new skills versus seniors with experience); career strategies (to what extent the company wants to team up high performers with low performers for coaching purposes, will high performers get frustrated); management approach (“people are key to the business so keep them happy”)… which is very interesting and necessary to run/grow a company, but that is not really specific to the creative industries.

Call me idealist, but I was expecting to find in the packet what the label said:

“the evolution of the design industry and the issues involved in leading today’s innovation companies to achieve creative and business success.

I thought the issues involved in leading today’s innovation companies, would be different to the issues of running any other company. My bad.

I also found very relevant the questions raised by the attendees: creative spaces, team feedback… but especially a question regarding how challenging it is to “sell” innovative services to other businesses. Something that is new doesn’t have a proved track record of success, and it is hard to sell its (potential) value. Well, stop trying to sell innovation to new clients. Apparently what you need is to do your explorative work with existing partners of whom you have gained their trust. Very insightful.


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