It’s your business: Get the most out of the creative economy

Joe Smith

Special to The Record

“If you keep colouring within the boxes and writing on the lines, you may never be able to do something remarkable. Break your spirit free to explore.” Bernard Kelvin Clive


Many columns ago I wrote about the concept of thinking like an artist to develop more creativity in your business strategies. This was based on the growing interest in what was being labeled the Creative Economy.

John Howkins, a British author whose career spans many industries, proposed that the role of individual creativity is the primary source of this new economy. He defined a creative product as an economic good, service or experience resulting from creativity and with the characteristics of being personal, novel and meaningful.

To further emphasize the importance of creativity in all aspects of life the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) declared ‘Creativity and innovation are now driving the economy, reshaping entire industries and stimulating inclusive growth.’ There are at this time 34 nations that are members of the OECD, Canada being one of the founding countries.

With the focus on this newly described economy as being the engine driving business opportunities, it is essential to move your business and your method of doing things into this new age.

Thinking like an artist is not some wild-eyed undisciplined endeavour. The serious artist, whether visual or performing, goes through an intense process of seeing, thinking, doing and redoing in order to come up with a finished product.

Along the way they think about the way colors, sounds or movements work with each other. They think about design, composition, techniques and the integration of ideas so that they will convey a story that will get a reaction.

What happens in business is not much different than the process a serious artist must undertake. You need to know who you are, do research that will point you in the right direction, know what you want to say, who you want to say it to, be willing to experiment and if necessary adapt to a changing environment.

The question of course is … can this creativity be learned? The simple answer is yes.

Studies have shown that there are five crucial behaviors that can improve your ability to develop creativity.

• Association: For example, you can learn from companies outside your industry. What companies do you admire and what are they doing that you can adopt or adapt to make you successful.

• Observing: Look at your customers, suppliers, and competitors to see what they are doing in order to identify new ways of doing things

• Question: For every challenge, there can be many solutions. Keep asking if you are doing the one that best works for you.

• Experiment: Try something new. As Steve Jobs said, innovation is saying no to a thousand things.

• Network: Associate with people who may have different ideas or perspectives … employees, friends, business associates.

If you can focus on these five behaviours you will be well on your way to improving your creative thinking process. To paraphrase something that Einstein said, “You can’t solve your problems with the same thinking that was used to create them.”

Joe Smith is a communications consultant and an accomplished fine artist. He can be reached via email at

Just Posted

Victim of downtown Courtenay assault dies from injuries

Person of interest identified by RCMP

North Island College’s annual 3-Hour Fiction Contest returns

Two competitions; one for adults, one for U-18 writers

Comox Valley’s drinking water within lead guidelines, say staff

Residents with old homes may still want testing if concerned about pipes, solder

Denman ferry cable to be replaced with plastic cable – for now

The first flattened steel strand cable is expected to be installed late summer 2020

Cumberland holds off transfer of ‘alleyway’ property to homeowner

Village cites need to protect alleyways, while staff cite encroachment issues

VIDEO: UBC exchange students offered $1,000 to help with leaving Hong Kong

The university said 31 of its students were attending four universities in Hong Kong

My Tech Guys celebrates 13 years in the Comox Valley

On Friday, Nov. 22 My Tech Guys will be holding their annual… Continue reading

Trailblazing First Nations artist passing on trade to students at NIC

Leanne Helin learned hand engraving from her older brother

‘Actors can play any roles’: Debate over ‘colour-blind’ casting after Victoria lawsuit

Tenyjah Indra McKenna filed a complaint over racially-motivated casting

Infants more vulnerable to measles than previously thought: Canadian study

Babies typically don’t receive the measles vaccine until they are 12 months old

Shatner, Obomsawin among 39 inductees to Order of Canada today

Shatner is being given one of Canada’s highest civilian honours for his 60-year career

John Mann, singer and songwriter of group Spirit of the West dead at 57

Mann died peacefully in Vancouver on Wednesday from early onset Alzheimer’s

Teacher tells B.C. Supreme Court that student was ‘happy’ to watch smudging ceremony in classroom

Case being heard in Nanaimo over indigenous cultural practice in Port Alberni classroom

VIDEO: B.C. high school’s turf closed indefinitely as plastic blades pollute waterway

Greater Victoria resident stumbles on plastic contamination from Oak Bay High

Most Read