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12th Jun 2023

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The Power of Pioneering: Creativity, Curiosity, and Change in Business with Fredrik Haren

Insights from the Deloitte Best Managed Companies Symposium which took place on 1st June 2023.

In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing business landscape, leaders face numerous challenges and opportunities. The ability to harness creativity, embrace change, and cultivate curiosity has become increasingly crucial for success. At the recent BMC Symposium, renowned speaker Fredrik Haren shared insights on “The Power of Pioneering” and shed light on how these qualities can transform businesses.

The Importance of Creativity

Do you consider creativity important in your job? Haren highlighted that creativity plays a vital role in the success of individuals and organsations. Perhaps unsurprisingly, only a few participants in the room believed that their companies were doing enough to develop their creative potential. Yet, studies have shown that creativity correlates positively with the success of businesses. Countries with higher scores of creativity tend to outperform others. It’s time for leaders to recognise the true value that creativity brings and invest in fostering a culture of innovation within their organisations.

Defining creativity can be a challenge for many individuals. However, Haren demystified this concept by emphasising that creativity is not a magical ability exclusive to a select few, but rather it is a skill that can be developed by anyone. Creativity emerges from combining existing elements in novel ways. The notion of “stealing” ideas, popularised by Picasso, indicates the importance of drawing inspiration from various sources. Western perceptions of Chinese creativity as mere copying are often misguided; they stem from a culture that embraces the combination of different ideas fearlessly.

Embracing Change

Change is often perceived as a daunting and unwelcome aspect of business. However, Haren stressed that every industry is constantly evolving, and those who resist change risk falling behind. He shared an anecdote about a chicken breeding company that hesitated to consider the rise of plant-based alternatives such as the Impossible Burger. Just six months later, KFC launched chicken-free nuggets, showcasing the need for adaptability. To remain competitive, leaders must develop a keen sense of idea perception and embrace change as an opportunity rather than a threat.

The Power of Curiosity

Curiosity, often underestimated, holds tremendous potential for innovation and growth. Haren argued that curiosity is the common denominator among creative individuals. Citing the example of Frank Stephenson, an iconic car designer responsible for renowned models such as the Mini, Fiat 500, and designs at Ferrari and McLaren, Haren emphasized Stephenson’s insatiable curiosity. Upon seeing a stuffed swordfish hanging above a hotel reception desk, Stephenson made it his mission to find out why the animal was so significant. Subsequently, McLaren cars have been designed with some of the features of a swordfish!

Curiosity fosters a deep care and interest in a subject, leading to breakthrough ideas. By cultivating curiosity, leaders can broaden their perspectives, drive continuous learning, and stay ahead of the curve.

Good ideas do not emerge solely in moments of crisis. Haren emphasized that the majority, approximately 80%, of great ideas come during relaxed moments like taking a shower, going for a walk, or even while sleeping. To encourage the generation of innovative ideas, leaders should create a lifestyle that promotes relaxation, encourages diverse experiences, and provides space for reflection.

In a rapidly evolving business landscape, creativity, change, and curiosity have emerged as essential attributes for successful leaders. As business leaders, it is imperative to recognise the significance of these qualities, leverage them to navigate challenges, and unlock the true potential of ourselves and our organisations. By embracing creativity, embracing change, and embracing curiosity, business leaders can shape a future filled with groundbreaking ideas, innovative solutions, and sustainable success.

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