Creativity and Innovation – Dec 2003

Creativity and Innovation Online
E-consultancy
December 2003

Copyright © E-consultancy.com ltd 2003

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Creativity and Innovation – Dec 2003

Table of Contents Table of Contents............................................................................. .........2 1. Introduction.......................................................................... .................2 2. How do you define ‘creativity’ and ‘innovation’?...................................2 3. How do you stimulate creativity and innovation?..................................2 4. Examples.............................................................................. ................4 5. Resources............................................................................................ .4

1. Introduction
This document is based on the ‘Creativity and Innovation’ roundtable event that E-consultancy held on 25th November 2003. Details of the event and attendees are at http://www.econsultancy.com/about/roundtables/26/creativity-innovation-online.html. At E-consultancy roundtables, leading experts and practitioners in the topic debate the issues, trends and resources most relevant to them. The contents of this document come straight from those closest to the topic. This document, along with the issues, trends and resources for numerous other topics and sectors, is available via the web site at http://www.e-consultancy.com/knowledge/whitepapers/. Access to this content and other premium content is for subscribers only. If you have any questions on this briefing please e-mail info@e-consultancy.com or call +44 (0)20 7071 8612. The ‘Creativity and Innovation’ roundtable looked at how digital companies can inspire their workforce to be creative, as well as talking more broadly about the definitions of ‘creative’ and ‘innovation’.

2. How do you define ‘creativity’ and ‘innovation’?
Broadly speaking, roundtable attendees were happy to agree that “creativity” can be defined as insight into how things can be done differently or better. Innovation is when creative concepts are developed into real world applications or products and make a tangible difference. Creativity can morph into innovation and vice versa.

A good real world example is streaming video. This would have begun life as a creative idea before companies such as Emblaze and Forbidden Technologies used their technological innovation to develop functional streaming video platforms. The medium has now moved beyond technology developers and the innovation phase, back towards creativity, only this time it is content owners that are using their creative skills to engage end users.

3. How do you stimulate creativity and innovation?
The following ideas were suggested at the roundtable: 1) Listen First and foremost, web companies should listen to their customers - it is extremely empowering to understand what customers do and don’t want. The web is a very powerful means of soliciting customer feedback to help companies make changes and innovations. NTL’s purchase of renegade customer complaints website www.nthellworld.com is a good
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Creativity and Innovation – Dec 2003

example of this (although the site has since been shut down ‘pending a review’). Forums are another easy way of stimulating, monitoring and responding to customer issues. Listen, respond, act. • AOL introduced a ‘report junk mail’ tool to help identify and cut down on the amount of spam delivered to inboxes, by improving its filtering systems. User feedback determines what is and isn’t spam. • ISPs such as BT Yahoo and MSN react to negative user feedback about pop-ups by launching ‘pop-up killer’ tools (www.mediaweek.co.uk/ThisWeek.News.View.aspx?ContentID=10914). 2) Usability Following on from the first point, focus groups and user testing sessions are another key way of finding out where there is room for improvement. Note that usability only focuses on existing platforms and while an extensive user testing session can help improve the platform significantly, it might not identify what is missing from a website to set it apart from the competition. Use feedback as the starting point for a brainstorming session to dream up and develop new ideas. • Usability guru Jakob Nielsen has an archive of columns at www.useit.com/alertbox/ - a great start for newcomers to the field and inspirational for those familiar with usability. If you think usability stifles creativity, start here: www.useit.com/alertbox/990822.html. 3) Brainstorming sessions These are a useful way of generating new business strategies and boosting morale by making employees feel that their ideas are valued. These events need a leader/recorder, a definition on topics to be explored and an open-minded approach. Change your environment to help stimulate the team. Set up workshops with business units to address issues and come up with new solutions. • Check out www.brainstorming.co.uk/tutorials/preparingforbrainstorming.html for some tips on running a brainstorming session. • One major company said it regularly spends one or two days thrashing out new ideas in brainstorming sessions. Out of 50 ideas proposed, it implemented 30. • Software tools can help with concept mapping, such as: www.paramind.net and www.ideacue.com.

4) Education
Senior managers do not always understand the technology. They also want to understand how the web best fits in with other digital channels, such as mobile and interactive TV, as well as traditional offline media. Managers need educating about digital methods and techniques. How can you make this happen? • Run internal workshops to educate staff and managers about digital media and its potential. • Layout and Visual Clarity: Not a Matter of Taste – an article which explains why web design should be based on the facts, rather than the whims of marketing managers www.clickz.com/sales/traffic/article.php/3092801. 5) Understand how people interact with technology Get to know how consumers use technology. Watch kids use digital gadgets and toys – they provide a glimpse into the future, demonstrating how people will interact with digital media. Moreover, watch the world around you and find ways of making people’s lives easier. What motivates people? What excites people? Find out and use it to your advantage. Real life examples: • Orange’s ‘Future Home’ provides a range of materials aimed at helping children learn about technology www.orange.co.uk/about/community/future_home_downloads.html. • Intel appointed a senior researcher to ride buses and watch people use their mobile phones and PDAs - www.eetuk.com/bus/news/mr/OEG20011206S0039.
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Creativity and Innovation – Dec 2003

Consumers’ reactions to voice technology www.speechtechmag.com/issues/8_1/cover/1591-1.html.

6) Keep it fun The web should keep users entertained and informed – there are a number of tips and tricks to keep users engaged and encourage interaction with technology. • Microsoft launched a range of ‘Creativity Fun Packs’ to help XP users get to grips with new technology, including digital photography, blogging and home movies www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/experiences/create. • Use multiple channels to develop interaction / understand the strengths of web vs mobile vs DiTV. A good overview can be read here www.guardian.co.uk/internetnews/story/0,7369,812946,00.html. • Tell your design team that you intend to nominate websites for awards to inspire them - www.maestroawards.com/EN_home.shtml. 7) Environment Simple changes to the workplace can stimulate employees, making them more capable of creative thought. How? • Buy and use a round table.


‘Hotdesking’ – let the team change where they sit in the office whenever they want. Recruit outsiders. Shake up the team by bringing in unusual people for work experience. Employ graduates for brainstorming sessions – www.freshminds.co.uk.

4. Examples
We asked roundtable attendees to give us their favourite examples of online creativity and innovation and the following were cited:

Comparison shopping site Epinions uses customer ratings/recommendations to help others with their choice of purchase. Comparison shopping information site - www.epinions.com. Time magazine’s invention of the year is Apple’s iTunes music store – www.apple.com/itunes/overview.html. Children block-building maestros create a website that perfectly reflects its brand, replete with chess game - www.lego.com. Using the power of broadband to harness a community (3D dating, chat, avatars ad streaming media) – www.bigtime.tv/index.cfm. For those times when you only remember a sliver of information about something – www.google.com. A Big Brother-style game to promote Ship of Fools: The Magazine of Christian Unrest http://ship-of-fools.com/theark/. 60m individuals own and look after their ‘virtual pets’ at www.neopets.com. Yahoo launches £30,000 competition to lure agencies towards the web - www.econsultancy.com/newsfeatures/153352/yahoo-dangles-30-000-ad-lure.html.

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5. Resources
Where should you go to find out more about creativity and innovation online? Try the following:
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Creativity and Innovation – Dec 2003

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The Interactive Advertising Bureau (www.iabuk.net) runs a monthly competition to showcase the best in interactive creative artwork - http://www.creativeshowcase.net/en/1/home.mxs 'What is Web Design?' by Nico Macdonald (published by RotoVision, 2003). An essential guide for anyone commissioning or managing design for the web, as well as for designers new to the field. Considers how theory can be put into practice through a well-considered process, and concludes with 10 detailed and extensively illustrated case studies www.whatiswebdesign.com D&AD – an industry body with a focus on creativity and good design. Runs industry and student awards - www.dandad.org How to capture and map creative thought - www.directedcreativity.com/pages/Heuristics.html. Tips on cultivating creativity in the workplace www.profitguide.com/howto/article.jsp?content=934 A range of creativity links http://members.ozemail.com.au/~caveman/Creative/Resources/www.htm Genius research, century by century - http://innovation.imboot.org/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=36 Everything from creativity puzzles to the science of innovation http://hua.umf.maine.edu/creativity/creativitylinks.html www.creativematch.co.uk – a ‘websource’ for contacts, news and jobs for the UK creative industry and their clients. More creative matchmaking action can be found at www.creativebrief.co.uk What makes a brand supercool? www.thebrandcouncil.org

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