Last week, I spent two days basking in glorious sunshine on the English riviera (yes we have one, it’s called Bournemouth). It wasn’t all sitting around outside as I was attending Silicon Beach, an annual conference dedicated to stimulating the mind with a dynamic line-up of speakers from many creative walks of life.
It would be unfair of me to highlight any one speaker over another as all were of such a high quality – higher in fact than any conference I have attended before (and I’ve been to a lot!)
Credit for this line-up goes to event organiser Matt Desmier who pulled a bunch of mavericks (including myself) into 16 hours of coherent entertainment.
The presentation videos will follow over the next few weeks. For now, my irreverent slides are available on Slideshare but here are some thoughts I pulled together for the Silicon Beach event book...
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” The age-old question that encourages us to reach for the stars and realise our true potential. But what do we ever really do about it?
It’s a tough question for a kid – Astronaut? President? Oscar-winner? Tea cosy? If you chose a more creative path, your answer may have been Picasso, Thomas Heatherwick or Jony Ive but the end result would be the same – do what you want to do, then adjust accordingly
To be honest, I think the whole thing puts too much emphasis on ‘growing up’. I hope never to lose a certain childlike-enthusiasm when approaching life’s challenges. Knowing too much about how something works or behaves all too often results in a solution governed by rules and barriers.
I’m not rebelling against briefs or processes per se, I’m just suggesting we take those ‘guidelines’ and push, shape and challenge whenever possible. Those kids aspiring to a career as an astronaut were aiming for the stars and that’s the place to focus, not the launchpad.
So how does this relate to creatives of all shapes and sizes when many have already set off on a career path or feel there’s nowhere else to go? This isn’t a rallying cry to push your Herman Miller chairs from your desks, close down your Macs, walk slowly to the door and head for a recruitment agent. No, shape what you have first – and that starts with you, then the work, then the client. If you can’t tick those three boxes then maybe you should consider plan A after all.
If we’re aiming high, then let’s extend that to creative daydreaming, otherwise labelled as Innovation. Where’s my flying car? My neural Twitter implant? My inflatable lifesaver pants? Innovation has been regarded as a buzz-word, dragged out and paraded around when really only referring to something new – not necessarily innovative.
With a scattergun approach to job titles resulting in celebrities such as Will.i.am jumping on the ‘Creative Director’ and ‘Innovation’ bandwagon, the boundaries are being blurred further still. Who is providing genuine solutions and who’s merely delivering a beautifully crafted answer?
These aren’t mutually exclusive – far from it, the best solutions arise from closely aligned creative, technology and innovation teams. Back to the daydreaming...
If we look to the past for inspiration, and the present for the tools, then our solutions should be based in the future. When Leonardo da Vinci sketched his plans for a helicopter or Alexander Graham Bell made his first telephone, they had a much bigger picture in mind.
Unleash creative abandon on an epic scale and you’ll find that not only do you discover an abundance of answers and unleash that hidden potential, but enjoy yourself in the process. Isn’t that where we came in?