Taking Creativity to the Max in Asia Pacific

Adobe Asia Pacific President, Paul Robson, shares three steps to help liberate creativity and leverage modern business best practices to get ahead of the competition, and stay there.

Taking Creativity to the Max in Asia Pacific

When Braun’s Oral-B electric toothbrush was ready for a design overhaul, the makers pushed for trackers that would keep an eye on brushing time spent. But the design team insisted on a different approach — a design approach — to steering the development process.

People, the design team hypothesized, felt guilty enough about brushing habits. They didn’t need another source telling them they weren’t doing a good enough job. Listening to the customers confirmed the design team’s suspicions and led to two unique user issues — charging the toothbrushes and ordering replacement heads.

Neither were issues that had, initially, popped to the top of the team’s must-solve list. Ultimately, though, the redesign solved these customer-driven issues elegantly — the new toothbrush charged with a simple USB port and, when it was time for replacement heads, users could click the toothbrush to trigger reordering.

Regardless of your business, Braun’s product development approach is a clear-cut look at how big brands are using design thinking to deliver on customer wants, needs, and goals. In taking this approach Braun and countless businesses are redefining “creativity” and generating significant benefits as a result.

Liberating creativity

Future-forward businesses recognize creativity means more than just art, design, and content development. In today’s modern business landscape, “creativity” must also encompass best practices such as design thinking as a business tool and creative solutions to business problems.

Adobe’s 2018 Digital Trends research indicates top-performing companies not only recognize the importance of these capabilities but, are also utilizing design and creativity to support their existing technology and ongoing innovation — and they’re reaping the benefits. Asia Pacific enterprises focused on customer experiences, for example, achieve an average revenue growth rate of 23 percent versus 13 percent for other companies.

While it’s clear that companies tapping these best practices are better positioned for success, just 29 percent of APAC businesses see themselves as focused on superior customer experience delivery.

Here are three steps to help liberate creativity and leverage modern business best practices to get ahead of the competition, and stay there.

Step 1: Adopt design thinking

The Oral-B example shows the core benefits of design thinking in business. This creativity- and customer-first approach is extremely agile and rapidly cycles through the five phases of design thinking — empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test — to best deliver a high value product.

The design thinking process starts with a defined challenge. From here, businesses tap into interviews and observations — the “empathizing” stage — to best understand the customer POV. Armed with that information, product developers and designers often go back to the drawing board to redefine the challenge, which is the “define” stage.

Once redefined, businesses can begin to effectively and efficiently brainstorm solutions in the “ideate” stage before developing a prototype that incorporates these solutions, testing final approaches to gauge fit. The process is repeated cyclically and iteratively until objectives are met.

More and more, enterprises are using design thinking to develop a customer-centric solution to the products they engineer. Adobe XD, for example, emerged because neither Photoshop nor Illustrator could initially meet modern UX challenges — challenges that didn’t exist when these products launched. Adobe engineers and designers worked with feedback from customers and created multiple iterations to develop Adobe XD — in fact, they used XD itself to ideate ui prototypes, interactions flows, and build user journeys as they interacted on product development. By working in this agile way, we were able to overcome customer challenges and pave the way for even more sophisticated customer experience development.

Step 2: Emphasize creative problem solving

Creative problem solving is a sought-after skill. With this skill, tomorrow’s workforce will be less impacted by automation, putting these young workers in greater demand. One recent trend saw engineering graduates more in-demand than traditional MBA students — these businesses wanted creative problem solvers who could think and thrive outside of the box.

An increasing number of schools and businesses are beginning to respond to these evolving demands. Business schools are offering design-thinking courses, companies are encouraging creative problem-solving strategies, and short-term, high impact events such as hackathons and creative jams are popping up around the globe.

If your business isn’t there, it’s essential to start understanding and embracing this creativity-first paradigm — as young professionals enter the workforce this will the “new normal” in terms of thinking and problem solving.

Step 3: Embrace a mindset shift

Using design thinking and creative problem solving are essential to success going forward — but these shifts can’t and won’t happen overnight.

Globally, just 41 percent of professionals consider themselves “creative,” and 31 percent feel they’re living up to their creative potential. To effectively and efficiently leverage these creativity-first best practices, business leaders, marketers, and other key stakeholders need to overcome pervasive one-dimensional thoughts surrounding creativity.

Right now, just 39 percent of global professionals consider themselves “creative,” and 75 percent say they’re under pressure to be productive instead of creative at work. To effectively and efficiently leverage these creativity-first best practices, business leaders, marketers, and other key stakeholders need to overcome pervasive one-dimensional thoughts surrounding creativity.

Beyond that, though, companies need to integrate automation, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning to free up more time to create. Unlike traditional views of technology-versus-creativity, today’s technologies won’t stifle the creative process. Instead, technology can help facilitate creation through design thinking and creative problem solving, giving businesses a major competitive advantage.

It’s a critical mindset shift given this critical time for businesses. Today “creativity” anchors meaningful best practices that touch every corner of an enterprise. Today, “creativity” means more than just art, design, and content development. It has expanded to encompass business practice and process.

In the modern business landscape “creativity” involves new ways to think about old problems, plus customer-led POVs that help companies grow and evolve. By diving into design thinking and creative problem solving now, organizations can better deliver dynamic, customer-first experiences today while preparing for the future of work — a future dominated by creative thinkers, doers, and problem solvers, trained to be agile, customer-first, and deeply design centric.

Learn more about creative business practices in Asia Pacific in Adobe’s latest study, “The Business Impact of Investing in Experience.”

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