Future Five: Unleash the Power of Collaborative Creativity in B2B
Future Positive works with the world’s problem solvers, helping to make the complex more compelling. We help them communicate their value in ways that their current and future customers find understandable, valuable and engaging. Our Future Five series collects insights and advice for B2B businesses to embrace and realise their potential. In this edition, we focus on collaborative creativity.
Omaid Hiwaizi – Planning and Development Director
In the dynamic world of B2B businesses, the ability to innovate and think creatively is a key driver of success. Embracing collaborative creativity as part of your culture and business processes can lead to groundbreaking solutions, enhanced customer experiences, and a competitive edge. Creativity also plays a crucial role in unlocking complexity within your organisation, paving the way for streamlined operations and efficient processes. We’ve collected some examples of creative processes, some of which you may already use, and some which you might consider:
- Embrace Cross-Functional Brainstorming:
B2B companies face complex challenges that require innovative solutions. Embracing cross-functional collaboration is a powerful creative idea that can unlock the full potential of your organisation. By bringing together diverse perspectives and expertise from different departments, you create a fertile ground for innovative thinking and problem-solving. This creative approach not only fosters a sense of unity within your company but also enables you to tackle complexities that may have been otherwise elusive.
With cross-functional collaboration, you break down silos and encourage open communication among teams. As each team member brings their unique insights to the table, the collective brainpower becomes a driving force for transformational ideas. This creative technique sparks synergy, encouraging individuals to think beyond their immediate domain and explore possibilities that may have been overlooked in a more isolated environment. You can do this by:
- Regularly hosting cross-functional brainstorming sessions.
- Encouraging open communication and active participation from all team members.
- Fostering a supportive environment where diverse perspectives are valued.
For example IBM, a global technology giant, adopted cross-functional collaboration through their “Design Thinking” approach. By bringing together experts from various domains, IBM developed Watson, an AI platform that has revolutionised the healthcare industry by providing personalised treatment plans based on a patient’s unique genetic profile. This collaborative effort enabled IBM to unlock complexity in processing vast amounts of medical data, leading to a groundbreaking solution that benefits both patients and healthcare providers.
- Enable a Culture of Experimentation:
Innovation often thrives in an environment that encourages experimentation and embraces the idea that failures are stepping stones to success. Fostering a culture of experimentation is a creative approach that empowers many companies to take calculated risks, explore uncharted territories, and uncover hidden complexities in their operations. By fostering a culture that celebrates trying new ideas and where learning from failures is encouraged, you create a powerful engine for creative problem-solving and continuous improvement.
In a culture of experimentation, your people are inspired to think outside the box and challenge the status quo. They become more receptive to exploring new possibilities and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. Fear of failure is replaced with a growth mindset, where each setback becomes an opportunity to learn and evolve. Why not try:
- Creating dedicated spaces or time for employees to experiment with new ideas and technologies.
- Implementing pilot projects to test new concepts on a smaller scale.
- Encouraging post-project analyses to retrospectively identify learnings and apply them in future endeavours.
A great example is Google’s parent company, Alphabet, which exemplifies a culture of experimentation through its “X” division. By embracing failures as learning opportunities, X has developed numerous groundbreaking projects, including Project Loon, providing internet access via high-altitude balloons, and Waymo, an autonomous vehicle technology company. These ambitious projects involve solving complex technical challenges, and the culture of experimentation has been pivotal in unlocking new possibilities and driving technological advancements.
- Focus Creativity on the Customer:
The heart of any successful business lies in understanding and meeting the needs of its customers. Customer-centred creativity is a powerful concept that puts clients at the core of your innovation efforts. This enables you to uncover complexities in your clients’ operations and design solutions that address specific pain points and challenges.
A customer-centric approach prioritises the discovery of customer insights, as clients’ needs and drivers reveal valuable perspectives that inspire creative problem-solving. By being open to feedback and actively involving customers in the product development process, you’re making sure that your solutions are tailored to meet their evolving needs. Ways to do this include:
- Conducting customer journey mapping to understand clients’ experiences and pain points.
- Actively seeking feedback from B2B clients through surveys, interviews, and focus groups.
- Co-creating with customers by involving them in the product development process.
HubSpot, a B2B marketing software company, places a strong emphasis on customer feedback and insights. Through ongoing customer surveys and interviews, HubSpot continuously enhances its products, ensuring they meet the evolving needs of B2B clients. By creatively addressing their clients’ marketing challenges and aligning their software to customers’ workflows, HubSpot unlocks complexities in the marketing landscape, driving success for businesses of all sizes.
- Actively Collaborate with External Partners:
In the interconnected B2B world, collaborative innovation with external partners can be a game-changer. By working creatively with third parties, you open doors to fresh perspectives and breakthrough ideas that can unlock complexities in supply chains, technology, and market access.
Collaborating with partners allows you to leverage complementary expertise and resources, accelerating your innovation journey. By pooling together knowledge and skills from different organisations, you can tackle complex challenges that may be beyond the scope of a single entity. You can do this by:
- Cultivating close strategic partnerships that align with your business objectives.
- Collaborating on joint R&D projects to explore innovative solutions.
- Leveraging complementary expertise to unlock complex market opportunities.
A great example of collaborative partnership is that between global technology and engineering company Siemens, and leading aircraft manufacturer, Airbus, to develop an innovative manufacturing process for lightweight aircraft components. By creatively combining Siemens’ expertise in additive manufacturing and digital twin technology with Airbus’ knowledge of aerospace engineering, they unlocked complexities in material selection, production efficiency, and quality control. The partnership resulted in complex 3D-printed parts using advanced materials, leading to lighter yet robust components for Airbus aircraft. This breakthrough allowed for improved fuel efficiency and environmental sustainability, showcasing the power of B2B collaboration in driving innovation and overcoming industry challenges.
- Cultivate a Growth Mindset for Continuous Improvement:
Encouraging a growth mindset within your company will foster adaptability, resilience, and creative problem-solving. By cultivating a culture where employees embrace challenges, view failures as opportunities for growth, and seek continuous improvement, you unlock complexities in your operations and drive innovation.
A growth mindset encourages employees to take ownership of their learning and development, empowering them to explore creative solutions to complex problems. This creative technique creates a positive and forward-thinking organisational culture that celebrates progress and values effort over immediate results. This is achieved through:
- Encouraging continuous learning and professional development opportunities for employees.
- Recognising and celebrating employees’ efforts and resilience.
- Setting stretch goals that challenge employees to explore creative solutions.
Case Study: Microsoft’s transformation from a software-focused company to a cloud-based services provider was fueled by a growth mindset. By empowering employees to learn and adapt to new technologies, Microsoft successfully transitioned to a cloud-first business model, attracting numerous B2B clients to its Azure platform. The growth mindset within Microsoft unlocked complexities in cloud computing and positioned them as a leader in the tech industry.
Creativity is a vital (and often overlooked) catalyst for B2B business success, regardless of industry or size. Embracing cross-functional collaboration, enabling a culture of experimentation, focusing on the customer, actively collaborating with partners, and cultivating a growth mindset for continuous improvement are essential elements for harnessing creativity. By integrating creativity into your culture and business processes your organisation can stay ahead in a competitive landscape and thrive in an ever-changing business environment.
Future Positive works with the world’s problem solvers, helping them communicate their value in ways that their current and future customers will find more understandable, valuable and engaging. If you’d like to collaborate creatively with our small but highly experienced team to help unlock your next technical brand or marketing challenge then do get in touch. From microbiology to new energy, we’ve spent decades making the complex more compelling for companies the world over.