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The Archetypes of Creativity

by Charl Goussard, NAIP Legal Research

In our previous two articles, we discussed the Rise of the Conceptual Age and with it the need for creativity in business. We have learned that it's fundamental to create an environment that will foster the leading patents of the Conceptual Age and patents for technology that can NOT be easily outsourced, automated or that merely meet the requirements of functionality.

To create such environments we need people: the RIGHT people!

Arguably, having the right mix of employees is probably more significant to the bottom line than an accurate budget forecast. Employees with six types of aptitudes: Design, Storytelling, Symphony, Empathy, Play, and Meaning, have been identified as crucial archetypes for the modern business. Employing the right mix of people with these elements will set your business on the path of creative success.

1. Design

The value of design lies in its ability to capture the emotional connections which consumers have or might have with a certain product or service. Lojacono and Zaccai (2004), state that the word "design", in the context of contemporary corporations, refers to a complete set of actions and skills required to source useful information which is then converted into a new product or service.

Pink (2005) expands on Lojacono and Zaccai's (2004) point of view by adding that apart from having an emotional connection with products and services, designers could also focus on creating aesthetical value or eccentric attributes to products and services. Designing with an emotional connection will be compelling for those who wish to succeed in the Contemporary age. This new understanding of design has lead to the creation of the design-focused enterprise which gives priority to product and service offerings based on intimate customer knowledge. Examples of Companies who are at the forefront of design, are Apple, IDEO and Ikea.

Even though design-focused organizations do not always succeed initially, their focus on and understanding of customer needs as well as their ability to rapidly and effectively communicate these unique needs to all levels of their organisation, secures a safe haven for these organizations to adjust to the ever-changing market needs (Lojacono and Zaccai, 2004). Design-focused organizations are thus best suited to lead in fast-changing markets due to their ability to sense consumer needs and to act immediately(Lojacono and Zaccai, 2004).

Being a complex skill, Pink (2005) concludes that Design is unlikely to be subcontracted or replaced by machines. Moreover, good design will add meaning, enjoyment and beauty to the world we live and work in (Pink, 2005). It is thus vital to incorporate the right amount of Design archetypes into your business to ensure the creation of unique products or services that will address the needs of contemporary customers.


Denning (2001) argued that the move away from storytelling, in an effort to compress information into analytical offers, such as what we have seen during the Information Era, has reached its climax in the twentieth century. Despite our acknowledgment of the limitations of analytic thinking, many of us still attempt to reduce knowledge into simplistic forms (Denning, 2001). This reduction of information, according to Denning (2001) contributes to the creation of hierarchies, and highly regulated organizations – systems which inhibit change in an innovative environment such as would exist in the Conceptual Age.

Adamson, Pine, Van Steenhoven, & Kroupa (2006) identified two essential functions of a good story; firstly, it should "capture your imagination" (Adamson et.al, 2006: 37) and secondly, it should "make you feel" (Adamson et.al, 2006: 37). Stories enable people to experience strategy at a personal level, which is why Adamson et.al. (2006) are convinced that storytelling should be an essential strategic tool.

Stephen Denning, warns however, that despite many corporations' acknowledgment of the importance of storytelling in addressing leadership challenges, very few executives possess the ability to use storytelling effectively (Denning, 2006).

Pink (2005:103) summarizes the importance of story as follows: "When facts become so widely available and instantly accessible, each one becomes less valuable. What begins to matter more is the ability to place these facts into 'context' and to deliver them with 'emotional impact'."

Acknowledging the value of storytelling, seeking and employing such abilities, and using them to propel business into the future seem logical. Two great examples of the power to unite through story is that of Nelson Mandela and the ANC, and more recently Susan Boyle on Youtube. Not every company can employ a Susan or Nelson, but by seeking employees with the ability to share through story, holds unlimited potential!

3. Symphony

Pink (2005) argues that the aptitude of symphony, which includes the ability to see patterns, to pierce the veil which covers links, and to cross edges with the use of innovative imagination, will free professionals in the Conceptual Age to do what computers and outsourced workers have difficulty doing.

In more simple terms: symphony is largely about relationships. Realizing the connections between different, distinct fields will enable the conceptual worker to optimize opportunities.

In the world of patenting/innovation, having the ability to connect the right technologies to form better, improved products, has already shown it's value and will in the future continue to do so. The history of the Post-it note, by 3M, is a typical example of symphony at work.

4. Empathy

"Empathy is the ability to imagine yourself in someone else's position and to intuit what that person is feeling. It is the ability to stand in other's shoes, to see with their eyes, and to feel with their hearts." (Pink, 2005: 159).

Moving away from the logic-dominated Information Age, attributes of caring, understanding emotions, and molding bonds with others, will set achievers apart from the rest (Pink, 2005). Pink explains that empathy is not an isolated skill; it strongly relates to design, story and symphony.
Typically, your inventor of the future will be someone who has the skill to observe and listen to others and then continue to have some deep insight regarding their actions, needs, and desires. These insights will then propel the innovator to improved innovations, addressing the needs of its customers, and setting its products apart from those of his competitors.

Anita Roddick, of The Body Shop, is a good example of a business leader who understood the vale of empathy. The success of The Body Shop, a cosmetics empire, was build on good works as much as good scents: pure products which are not tested on animals.... Roddick seemed to have captured the values of her customers and created an emotional connection with her brand name.

5. Play

Pink (2005) stresses the importance of play in the Conceptual age – not only for the benefits it holds for personal well-being, but also for the benefits of business. He notes that play is becoming increasingly important in all facets of life, revealing itself through humor, games and joyfulness.

During the 1990's, Miller (1996) notes that an increasing number of organisations have realised the value of laughter and play to increase productivity. By incorporating play and laughter in an organisation, a joyful environment is created. Such joyful environment, in return increases staff members’ quality of life, which is then transferred to customers and other staff members in the form of good service (Miller, 1996). Miller (1996) furthermore mentions that fun in the workplace improves communication which leads to better relationships. Laughter, in particular, contributes to a decrease in interpersonal- stress (Miller, 1996). Having good interpersonal relationships in a group, improves collaboration within such group (Miller 1996).

In her study on "Fun in the workplace", Rockman (2003) found that fun, especially laughter, contributes to stress relief, positive attitude, and a sense of comfort in the workplace, which in return increases productivity.
For those mathematicians out there, the equation is simple:

Work + Play = Increased Productivity
Increased Productivity = Profit × ∞

The San Francisco Fish Market
is an example of business that have realized and capitalized on the value of Play – have a look at their entertaining fish business!

6. Meaning

Pink (2005) explains that the material abundance of the twenty first century has liberated many people from the past fight for survival, allowing us to seek higher levels of satisfaction. It is within these higher levels of need satisfaction that the virtues of meaning embody themselves in the form of purpose, transcendence and spiritual fulfillment (Pink, 2005).

Karlgaard (2004) argues that the quest for better quality products and cost reduction has been conquered; what remains is meaning. The need for "Meaning. Purpose. Deep life experience" is on the rise (Karlgaard, 2004: 35). Selling meaning, according to Karlgaard (2004) is the marketing approach for the Conceptual Age. Gone is the pressing need to survive – welcome to the search for a meaningful life!

As businessmen and innovators, we need to nurture our customers and employees' need for meaning. The strong emergence of Corporate Social Responsibility is but one of the pointers toward the value and need for meaningful business! The Starfish Greathearts Foundation is an example of a meaningful organization. It's mission is to bring life, hope and opportunity to children orphaned and made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS. Since it started in 2001 it has grown tremendously – just another sign that meaning is powerful!


Having had an introduction to the 6 archetypes of creativity, a better understanding of creativity in business, and knowledge of the needs of the Conceptual Age, it is now time to experiment with the dynamics of creativity.

Keep in mind that creativity in the workplace is a result of group work, which is exponentially more complicated than the sum of the individuals in the group!

Challenging, but fun!


Adamson, G., Pine, J., Van Steenhoven, T. & Kroupa, J. (2006), "How storytelling can drive strategic change", Strategy and Leadership, Vol. 34, No. 1, pp. 36-41.

Denning, S. (2001), The Springboard: How Storytelling Ignites Action in Knowledge-era Organizations, Woburn, MA: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Denning, S. (2004), "Telling tales", Harvard Business Review, Vol. 82, No. 5, pp.122-129.

Denning, S. (2006), "Effective storytelling: strategic business narrative techniques", Strategy & Leadership, Vol. 34, No.1, pp. 42-48.

Karlgaard, R. (2004), "The Age of Meaning", Forbes Magazine, April 26, 2004 edition, p. 35.

Lojacono, G. & Zaccai, G. (2004), "The Evolution of Design-Inspired Enterprise", MIT Sloan Management Review, No.3 (Spring 2004), pp.75- 79.

Miller, J. (1996), "Humor – an empowerment tool for the 1990's", Empowerment in Organizations, Vol. 4, No. 2, pp. 16-21.

Pink, D.H. (2005), A whole new mind, New York: Penguin.

Rockman, I.F.( 2003), "Fun in the workplace", Reference Services Review, Vol. 31, No.2, pp. 109-110.


    Creative –Constructive- Critical Reading, Writing and Thinking: Heroic & Attainable Goals for the 21st Century
    Based on: Teaching For Creative Outcomes: Why We Don’t, How We All Can
    • And excerpted with author permission from: Manzo/Manzo/Thomas Content Area Literacy: A Framework for Reading-Based Instruction (5th edition) Wiley (2009)
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