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Twitter continues to be a great source of new thinking to share on the blog via guest posts.

Today’s comes from Patrick Fitzgerald of Straight Face Productions. Using original sketch comedy as a way to engage audiences and further brand marketing objectives, Straight Face Productions creates original characters that are easier to relate to than the brands they represent. The approach, while nuanced, is aligned with the evolving viewing habits of online audiences.

Here’s Patrick’s view on the link between creativity and innovation and what it takes to actually deliver results from creativity.

What’s so funny about Creativity and Innovation? In my estimation, not much.

When I was invited to write a guest blog for Brainzooming, I was guided toward the topic of humor in relation to creative thought and innovation. I suppose this is because I lead a company using comedy as a method to engage audiences and further brand marketing objectives.
This is a common situation for me; when I make presentations to brand folks, there is an air of anticipation in the room as people wait for me to be funny.

Trouble is, I don’t do funny – not like that. Comedy is hard and best left to professionals. We all know the quote from the British vaudevillian on his death bed, “Dying is easy, comedy is hard.” Try dying in front of a room of people expecting you to be funny – that’s really hard.

So, I revert to writing about the creative process and innovation, as people generally agree that Straight Face Productions is an innovative and creative company.

We all know creative people. We serve on committees with them because they “have a million ideas.” To varying degrees, everyone is creative. Innovation, though, is the ability to implement logical structure to creativity; to give it function and then value. Innovators distinguish themselves by recognizing opportunity where others may not, valuing the opportunity appropriately, and developing methods to realize the value in a timely manner.

Innovation necessarily begins with a creative thought process – thinking beyond what is known and creating a set of possibilities that extends beyond our experience.

Creativity is necessary in order to overcome the forces of status quo and cultural norm. These two forces, behind gravity alone, bind us to the earth and limit what is possible. Status quo and culture are damning forces to innovation. They are always felt, and never seen. They are evidence of the Laws of Inertia in the plane of ideas. Creativity provides the energy necessary to overcome culture and status quo.

The creative process begins with a set of questions of a more general nature. Start with “What if?” and “Can we do this?” Shape your solutions based in possibilities, not in fear and limitations. Innovation takes place when you evaluate the possibilities and begin solving problems in the gap between the possible and the real. Albert Einstein said, “Innovation is not the product of logical thought, although the result is tied to logical structure.”

Innovators are not primarily concerned with failure. Any real innovator, though, will have a good deal of experience with failure. Woody Allen said, “If you don’t fail now and again, you’re not doing anything very innovative.” In fact, the familiarity with failure provides motivation; knowing failure through experience provides a powerful avoidance mechanism. To be successful, innovators manage their relationship with fear; innovators find fear to be a useful in navigation but a terrible traveling companion.

For an innovation to be adapted, it must demonstrate value. The patent office is overflowing with all manner of creative ideas that have failed to demonstrate value. You have to accept that value is a relative term. Sure evidence of that is that marshmallow peeps are an innovation in sugar intake systems. Conversely, purple ketchup is no longer on the store shelves. To be too critical is to dampen your own creative ability. To recognize value where others may not is critical to being innovative in your thinking.

Finally, true innovation requires repeatable success. Warren Bennis warns, “Innovation, any new idea by definition, will not be accepted at first. It takes repeated attempts, endless demonstrations and monotonous rehearsals before innovation can be accepted and internalized by an organization. This requires courageous patience.” Patrick Fitzgerald

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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2 Responses to “What’s Not So Funny ’bout Creativity & Innovation? – Guest Post from Patrick Fitzgerald”

  1. Randy Higgins says:

    Thank you for your insight on the mindset it takes to be innovative in the market place. As a partner in a company that specializes in data analytics, one of the things we always preach to our clients is they need to be constantly testing a wide array of new ideas with the infrastructure in place to immediately measure success or lack there of. This framework allows them to rapidly exploit their successes and reallocate funding from their failures with a low risk threshold (managing their relationship with fear). True market leaders recognize this as truth, while others are at best attempting to gain parity with the leaders.

    Few companies suffer from a lack of ideas, but many suffer from an inability to measure and react to the results once they are implemented.
    Randy Higgins
    Managing Partner
    Anova Group, LLC.

  2. Mike Brown says:

    Appreciate your comment Randy. Innovation is truly a numbers game, and the capability you describe to make the best timely decisions to focus or eliminate efforts is critical to real innovation success. Thanks for your perspective!

    Mike