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How do businesses manage their corporate culture in today’s change vortex? Daniele Fiandaca, head of innovation at Cheil and co-counder of Creative Social answers some testing questions

4 min read

Does the entrepreneur’s now low barrier to entry put more pressure on corporates to be more creative and innovative?

Corporates have always been under pressure to be creative and innovative – but these traits are vital to survival today. An incredible 70% of Fortune 1000 companies listed only ten years ago have now vanished so the old adage that “it’s not the strongest or most intelligent that survive, but those who can best manage change” has never been more apt.

Creativity and innovation are the trademarks of agile, adaptable organisations. The pressure on corporates to effectively and successfully manage change by being fleet of foot is as much driven by rampaging technological development, and our eagerness to embrace it, as it is by intrinsic entrepreneurial characteristics.

Entrepreneurs have always had a great ability to adapt and I think it is no coincidence that the advertising industry body is forming closer ties with tech start ups with the likes of the Bakery, which pairs tech start ups with brands and agencies as well as the Friday Club which matches senior advertising talent with start-ups.

How do management hierarchy and brand guidelines destroy corporate culture, constructive creativity and confidence?

Hierarchy and brand guidelines don’t necessarily destroy corporate culture, constructive creativity or confidence. As a business gets bigger, structure is actually quite important and can allow for better creativity. The important thing is how that structure is applied and the flexibility with which it is used. It is important that leeway can be provided within those guidelines as well as understanding context. For example, guidelines may well be applied very differently in a retail space compared to Facebook.

How does the digital revolution where consumers own brands free up marketers to be more creative and stop trying to control so much?

It’s debatable that consumers own brands. While it is true that brands can no longer control how people view them through controlled messaging, the reality is that brands are now defined by the quality of their product as well as their behavior and these are both things that a brand can control. Only when they have clearly defined what they want to deliver to customers and how they want to behave, can marketers be freed up to be more creative.

I also think the web has liberated brands – people are for more forgiving of mistakes made by brands as long as they listen, respond and engage. There is now greater opportunity to try things without fear of totally alienating your audience. There have been many examples of brands making mistakes, acknowledging it, and actually find their brand stock has increased. Jet Blue’s Grounding on Xmas eve, Gap’s failed Gap new logo launch and O2’s network outage, and its subsequent response on Twitter, are all examples of this. In each case, by responding in a measured and very human way, people felt more love for those brands.

How can creativity and positive corporate culture improve innovation?

Corporate culture is fundamental to being able to deliver true innovation. Tony Hsieh, founder of Zappos, a business that helped reinvent customer services, said in 2008: “Our #1 priority as a company is our company culture. We believe that if we get the culture right, most of the other stuff, including great customer service, will fall into place on its own.”

Working at Cheil, creativity and innovation is at the heart of our business and we are constantly striving to create a culture that supports both of these things. This will include giving people time to actually explore other cultures like the arts, film and entertainment. Only last week we had the Framestore come in and talk to us about the making of Gravity, which totally blew everyone’s minds.

It is also about the type of people you hire and we pride ourselves in having a team of curious mutants – people who are constantly looking at new things to see how they may be applied to the business of creativity and solving our client’s problems in new and interesting ways. This is actually at the core of what do with Creative Social – our global events are all about finding inspiring people from other industries who are passionate about what they are doing with our speakers ranging from architects to artists to hairdressers to directors to entrepreneurs to performers and to photographers. This is something big corporates should be doing far more of themselves.