Imagine a company with an overflowing pipeline of ideas powered by teams of employees who consistently turn theory into solutions that fuel profits. Corporate nirvana? Too good to be true? Impossible for most companies? Not if Charles Day has anything to say about it.
Charles Day is the founder of The Lookingglass, a group of business advisors and leadership coaches who teach a set of principles Day calls “Profitable Creativity.” Day believes that exceptionalism is possible for companies that are led by those willing to treat creative thinking as a core competency, and adopt principles that will turn that thinking into solutions that generate economic value for the long-term.
Day’s model identifies the critical conditions that a company must meet to balance today’s rapid-fire consumer demand for “new and different” with the ability to make a profit. Day teaches that the base for a company’s profitable creativity lies in its values. While many businesses put their values down on paper, they struggle with the day-to-day implementation, particularly when under financial pressure.
Application of his profitable creativity diagnostic tool first requires application of a set of principles Day calls “FORM”: focus, organization, resources and metrics. The first step for companies committed to creating a culture of profitable creativity is a critical look in the mirror using FORM:
Focus: What is the impact we want to have on the world? Does our company have a purpose besides selling something? Are our employees inspired by our vision?
Organization: How do we support that vision? Do layers of management and organizational silos slow everyone down? What stands in the way of employees being able to do their best work?
Resources: How do we know that we’re hiring the right people? Do they stick around for more than just money? Are they made big promises at hire and then micro-managed?
Measurements: What do we measure and why? Is it important to our purpose, or do we pay attention just because everyone else does? Are we becoming more or less relevant to our customers?
Steve Jobs could not have led Apple to define (and then redefine) an industry with creativity alone. But, his unique view of what was possible that fueled the astounding innovation that led to record levels of Apple profits. The company paid a huge price when they devalued that creativity and fired Jobs back in 1985. His return in 1997 led to Apple changing the world.
With focus and direction, Day believes all companies are capable of finding their own level of Steve Jobs-like innovation. We challenge you to do a FORM analysis on your organization. Take an uncomfortable look into your company’s mirror and determine if you’re ready for a culture of profitable creativity.