Dot Connecting Is the New Creativity

Those of us in advertising (and of a certain age) have been conditioned to think about creativity as something that belongs to the "creatives" (copywriters/art directors/designers/artists). While we non-creative types often have good ideas, our jobs are primarily to sell other people's ideas - and to cede any secret sauce around creativity to a different breed of thinkers, hoping some of the creative magic rubs off on us now and then.

In recent years, this belief has been challenged time and time again. Creative people might feel their expertise is being called into question. But, from my point of view, this is not the end of the traditional creative discipline; it's an expansion of what creativity means to be much more inclusive - and can help people who are naturally more "creative" to become even better at their jobs - and find inspiration in even more places. It's exciting, because the definition of creativity is changing.

It's also inevitable. As the world has become more complex, we need more and more people who can navigate the rapidly changing marketing landscape. People who understand the business dynamics our clients are dealing with, people who know how to synthesize data into actionable insights and people who understand how to make technology relevant to consumers. Creativity today is about connecting the dots - finding relationships between everyday interactions and sometimes between seemingly unrelated things - to better solve a problem rather than have a one-way dialogue with our consumers.

When it comes to redefining modern creativity, Steve Jobs said it best: "Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn't really do it; they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That's because they were able to connect experiences they've had and synthesize new things."

This ability to connect the dots is the new secret sauce. It's no longer just a reflection of our current reality (like a segmentation profile or an indication of past behavior or future intent). Data can uncover unique insights into human behavior that can create an experience that's truly special. It's less about the "aha moment" and more about solving problems.

This is where "data meets diversity" comes into play. It's not enough just to have access to the terabytes of data available today; it's about the diversity of experiences that enable you to make those connections between the data. The more diverse our brains, the more potential connections we can make. And the more powerful ideas we can unlock.

Bruce Nussbaum talks about this in his book Creative Intelligence: "People who can dig deeper, frame new patterns and engagements, and use their knowledge to build wildly engaging products should now be worth more in the marketplace."

So, let's embrace complexity as an opportunity to connect more dots - and all of us business brains, analysts and self-proclaimed nerds can unleash our inner creative.