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Creative Innovation Series: Thinking laterally, not literally.

17 March 2021

Speaker: Jacob Beckett 

Executive Creative Director at Vitamin Cornwall

The key to creativity is “to think laterally, not literally” says Jacob Beckett, Executive Creative Director of Vitamin Cornwall. Coming from a full service creative agency specialising in launching new digital products and ventures, his playful and interactive presentation at the Cornwall Innovation Club honed in on the importance of ideating through the eyes of a child.

Over time, as we build a database of learned behaviour, many lose the child-like ability to think around the problem, become risk adverse and fearful of experimenting – which isn’t conducive with the conditions needed to foster innovation. As demonstrated by the exercise below:

Fear of failure and fear of reprisal for a bad idea (whereby there is no such thing as a bad idea, in our opinion) can often block those creative juices. “If the idea is good enough you can make it work” he says, which is why Vitamin celebrate a company culture whereby employees feel safe to create and express their ideas without judgement.

Like a suitcase with wheels, Jacob observes that the components of an idea don’t have to be new to have an impact. “Creative Innovation is creativity with purpose”, he points out. And if the idea is surprising and has a compelling purpose behind it (like his example of the ‘The Book that Saves You Tampon Tax’, which resulted in Germany abolishing taxation on female sanitary products), then the innovation can instigate real political change.

Like many digital creative businesses, Vitamin Cornwall is in the enviable position to have been largely unaffected by Covid-19, however, initially it did have an impact on employees who were now having to work from home. Emails, zoom fatigue and lack of physical contact as a team can often slow down the rate of innovation and he highlights that collaboration and employee wellbeing are both intrinsic for creativity and innovation to manifest.

For that reason, Vitamin Cornwall realised early on that collaborative tools (such as Miro) and implementing new software to measure employee happiness, wellness and satisfaction, would be essential for managing their newly distributed team throughout the duration of the pandemic.

As a digital business, Vitamin were always going to be ahead of the curve due to having the technical infrastructure in place to be able to adapt pretty quickly to this new way of working. Another example of how businesses investing time and resources into new technologies tend to fare well in periods of disruption.

If you would like to watch the full event online, the recording can be found on ATI2’s new digital platform: The Innovation Studio. ATI2 clients can request exclusive access logins by registering your interest at www.aticornwallinnovation.co.uk or emailing ati@plymouth.ac.uk.

Example answer to exercise:

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