Opinion: Moving towards a predictive creative mindset

Hari Nallan Think Design

The change in the pace of technology, climate, and socio-political situations is rapidly steering us towards new unknowns. Unpredictability requires constant adaptability, which is demanding for individuals and organizations alike. Given a creative brief/ creative problem, how do creative people plan for solutions that make us ready for the future? Hari Nallan, Think Design details down his thoughts.

Creativity is the production of “something original and worthwhile”. – Robert Sternberg. Anything ‘original’, ‘novel’, and ’imaginative’ is often considered synonymous with the mark of creativity. However, what is of equal importance to note here is that creativity is also about planning and imagining solutions that would be ‘worthwhile in the future. The future is not just unpredictable – but also what we term as VUCA-volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous. Hari Nallan, Founder and CEO of Think Design, which is part of the Havas Group, India writes about being future-ready with creative briefs and how.

Creatives need to orient towards a new ‘skill’ of predicting to ensure outcomes as they create. The predictive creative would be able to answer this as they create:

  1. How will my users receive the creative solution?
  2. How will my creative solution be relevant, usable, and meaningful irrespective of changing context and times?

As Creativity ensures solutions that are future-ready, here are some tips to ensure a ‘predictive creative’ mind:

1.Utilise the power of Intuition over Intelligence: Sense and Respond

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”- Albert Einstein

A body of research reveals that intuition can be not only faster than reflection but also more accurate. According to Gary Klein (research psychologist famous for pioneering in the field of naturalistic decision making), “Intuition is how we use our experience to know how to act.” Although intuition or ‘gut’ are often considered unscientific or illogical, there is merit in recognising its growing importance.

As a creative, there is value in trusting your instincts next time as these instincts might be coming from processing all your internal experiences and information stored in the subconscious mind.

2. Invest in user research and understand the pulse of your market: Probe, Sense and Respond

In design, qualitative user research focuses on a small group of users representing a larger population to gain insights into beliefs, aspirations and pain points of a collective whole. The direction thus obtained guides the creation of products or services that validate the user’s needs. These needs are of the present and also give glimpses of user mental models towards their future.

Creative people can ensure outcomes by being sensitive to problems – having the ability to recognise problems, even among a small set of users.

Also Read: Opinion: 5 under-utilized Influencer Marketing strategies

3. Pay heed to your historical data: Analyse and Respond

Study the past if you want to define the future.” – Confucius

You can predict weather patterns, wildfire patterns, even predict coronavirus recovery rate, but to make creative predictions, you first need data. And the more you have, the better decisions you can make and the more creative you can be. Before collecting data, isolate a problem, define it, and choose a metric you want to understand better. Getting the maximum information out of a few variables prevents your prediction model from using unnecessary variables and ruining the trend you’re trying to clarify.

As a creative, access and analysis of historical data can be a powerful tool to create your own models of prediction to build solutions on trends you foresee.

4. Learn to learn the outcome: Act, Sense, and Respond

Have you observed tarot readers? A tarot reader always keeps the cards very close to their chest, takes out one card at a time, keeps talking about that card, observes your behaviour, and changes the narrative – to match the one you are manifesting. Now, compare this with the approach of an agile and lean startup towards work. They know that the future is somewhat different from the past and they know that they don’t have historical data to predict the past. So, they observe what is going on and wonder how to occupy the space and test where there could be opportunities. When there are a lot of unknowns in space then the only way one is going to learn is by taking action.

Predict the outcome by testing fast, failing fast, and learning quickly. Here, failing doesn’t have to be stigmatized nor get associated with incompetence yet let it guide you not to throw in more resources until you find your proof of concept.

5. Uncover the unknown truths by combining different “knowns”

Fredrick Haren (an author and speaker on Business Creativity) shares a formula for creativity – C=p(k+i).  Here P stands for a person, one who combines – knowledge(k) and information(i) to create something new. Understanding connections and decoding patterns are precursors to making good predictions. Novel solutions are created when existing knowledge and information are combined or composed in a new way, to meet a need in an innovative way.

The piece has been authored by  Hari Nallan, Founder and CEO of Think Design, which is part of the Havas Group, India.