It's Time To Embrace 'Creative Business Practices'
Let's be honest, we often think that 'creative' is a dirty word that we avoid connecting to business practices. When you hear about creative business practices, you might start thinking about 'creative accounting', a term that conjures images of dark rooms and shadowy figures or perhaps you picture those 'creative types' who would prefer to put a bold artistic statement ahead of sustainable business practices.
But in defense of 'creative', it has just been hanging out with the wrong crowd. In fact, I would argue that the time has come to move beyond both of these negative connotations and embrace creative business practices. But what exactly does that mean? And what can a movie star like Cate Blanchett teach us about Software Defined Networking? Let me explain…
Late last year I had the opportunity to attend a UTS Business School special event on 'The Business of Creativity'. I'd previously been to a couple of UTS events and even though they're typically thought provoking experiences, I didn't quite understand the specific relationship between business and creativity that was going to be discussed. In the end I was swayed by the draw card speakers, the Sydney Theatre Company's Artistic Directors Cate Blanchett and Andrew Upton.
Expecting some 'creative type' discussion on why business needs to rediscover creativity and artistry, I was captivated by a frank discussion of problems that were applicable to anyone in the business world. The Sydney Theatre Company process outlined by Cate and Andrew is essentially a question of manufacturing. A new product (show) was envisaged and a manufacturing process (rehearsals) initiated. This itself was not surprising, but Andrew made a comment that has stuck in my head ever since. Essentially his point was that investigation and exploration are the necessary first step towards success. His argument was that jumping straight to the monetization aspects of the product limits the creativity and therefore value of the entire production.
Both Cate and Andrew highlighted that the best outcomes were achieved when a genuine crisis developed during the rehearsal process that painfully forced an exploration of alternative solutions. Allowing ideas to compete (and often fail) ensured the final product was stronger than would have occurred if the business processes has been executed in a smooth and unsurprising fashion. The direct parallel to the Silicon Valley mentality of risk-taking and encouraging fast failure to deliver rapid innovation could not have been clearer.
The barriers for creating new content and services has never been lower. Innovation can (and does) occur in unlikely situations, often from those who are exploring what is possible simply because they can. Just this past weekend a collection of eager young content creators descended on Los Angeles to compete at the annual 'Student Television Network' convention. Many of the competitions pushed these student filmmakers to produce a new product within a couple of hours. Even the longest duration competition only ran for 16 hours, and it required the production of an entire short film. Within a couple of hours, new content was created and was ready to be beamed to a worldwide audience. Compare this to the previous methods of content production and distribution that might have required purchasing time on a community access network. The focus is no longer on how to get the product distributed; it’s entirely shifted to the creative process.
In the world of telecoms and technology, it's often easy to assume that these creative practices aren’t relevant or should be avoided. We deploy new services using predictable project management frameworks that are often scoped years in advance of a new product reaching end-users. But this rigidity of business process is forcing a shift in the way we create services. The Software Defined Networking and programmable network movement is one example of a technology solution evolving to address what is fundamentally a business problem.
The agility of SDN is seen as a major advancement in reducing the time and cost to deploy new services. But to unlock the full potential of current and future generation networks the newfound agility must extend all the way to the business processes that should creatively leverage these enhanced tools. Businesses that use the abilities of SDN and programmable networks to investigate, explore and rapidly prototype new services will reap the biggest benefits.
This isn't a hypothetical call to action either. Juniper has already been working with industry via our OpenLab facility to put these principles into practice. You can read more about this here.
In summary, the toolkit of the future is agile and open to exploration and innovation. The barriers for creating new content and services has never been lower. Let's make sure our business practices adapt to take advantage of this new flexibility so that, hopefully, in the future we will find that creativity wont be seen in such a negative way.