Creativity is the oil of the future.
That was the message from Larry Thompson, president of Sarasota’s Ringling College of Art and Design, at a recent Association for Corporate Growth Tampa Bay event held in Sarasota.
Thompson called on attendees to see the importance of creativity in a variety of applications. It fuels hundreds of industries, he says.
Schools, for example, should focus on developing creativity in students, Thompson says, adding, “We don’t need more multiple choice tests, we need more tests with multiple answers.”
He told attendees there’s a key difference in today’s workplace: “Companies that traditionally competed on price and quality are now using design to differentiate themselves.” And that differentiation has altered competitive business logic, he says.
Thompson offered two noteworthy case studies. The first was retailer Target, which sought a way to compete with Walmart. The solution? Hire famous designers to make products that could compete with Walmart products on different level. The result was items — including a toilet bowl brush — that Thompson says, “sold like hot cakes because they looked cool.”
His second example is a company known around the world for its product design: Apple. Thompson says one major reason Apple has been profitable is because co-founder Steve Jobs appreciated design and products that both worked well and looked good.
Thompson says he’s an advocate of every organization having a creative person on their board of directors. Creative people, he says, are needed to develop interesting and innovative ideas. He says, “It’s about being able to fail and explore.”