An interviewer once asked Albert Einstein how he developed his complex scientific theories. In reply, Einstein reportedly pointed to his head and said that he used a pencil and a piece of paper to develop his ideas. This clearly demonstrates the perfect union of analytics and creativity in problem-solving. Out of Einstein's working process came many famous scientific theories, including the theory of relativity. Nothing could better illustrate the integration of left brain and right brain: logic and reasoning coupled with imagination and creativity.
Einstein's interesting quote (above) points to a current, fundamental shift in business thinking. In fact, business leaders are embracing, with great impact, the concept of integrating analytical abilities and creativity. And this is where our left brain-right brain discussion takes us.
Stephen J. Adler, Editor-in-Chief of Business Week, has dubbed today's business environment "the Creativity Economy." In a memorable editorial, "Ready. Set. Innovate," from August 2005, he states:
The creativity economy may sound like another over-hyped catch-phrase, but companies that have embraced the concept are gaining a bottom-line edge over those who haven't...innovation and design point the way out of a lot of the difficulties U.S. companies face as high-paying jobs in tech and manufacturing shift overseas. But the smartest U.S. companies are learning that they can still lead the way if they listen closely to their customers and rethink product design. That's how Starbucks can charge so much for a cappuccino and why the Swiffer is eclipsing the mop.
While innovation and creative design in products and services seem to point the way to future business success, we should expand on Adler's idea. We could argue that innovation and creativity should be employed to revamp companies' entire organizational structures—not merely their R&D, sales, and marketing departments—as they endeavor to bring successful new products and services to market.
Today's business leaders are faced with enormous challenges and the complexities of doing business in a global environment. Competition is at fever pitch and will continue to increase at unprecedented levels as emerging economic powerhouses China and India market their products and services on a global stage. Imbuing an entire company with a design-centric (read: creative) culture can make a profound difference in the way companies meet these new challenges.
After all, if business executives are expected to become creative thinkers, problem solvers, and innovators to keep their companies ahead of ever-intensifying global competition, won't the basic premises of design serve them well? We might call this a move to integrate right-brain (creative, innovative and design) and left-brain (analytical, management) thinking in the highest circles of business.
Creating a New Business Model