07/21/2011 11:36 am ET | Updated Sep 20, 2011

The Creative Economy


When you use creative professionals, you can achieve huge monetary as well as emotionally gratifying results. Successfully managed, profits from creative teams grow exponentially, like Apple's value growing by 1000% over the past 10 years. However, it takes a proactive effort. If you give up control and hope for the best, you are on the sure road to losing money faster than in a Depression. Studies show that for experienced companies, new products fail at a rate of 35-40% and for average new firms the fail rate is 90%.

The recipe for prospering in all creative businesses is careful planning and briefing. When you clearly define your goals up front and inspire your creative staff, you will create winning products, services and experiences. This sounds like common sense, however most managers continue to let teams work without a clear sense of direction, hoping they will automatically deliver them what they failed to tell them that they wanted.

For creative designers to think way outside the box while still delivering on time, on budget and utilizing high-quality solutions, you must first formulate a business idea. This idea needs to include your values, beliefs, vision, mission, goals and strategy. "Can't we just get started and figure out this soft stuff as we go along?" you ask. Yes, you can, but it will double your cost, take twice as long and jeopardize the end quality result. From your own experiences, you could probably have anticipated this result. Stanford auditing of design briefs from top performing companies shows that the right formulation of the business idea is strongly linked to outperforming the competition.

After creating a strong business idea, the key to briefing your team is providing the designers with just the right balanced amount of strategic information and measurable performance criteria. Studies from Stanford show that including the right scope of strategy and design criteria increases the quality of the end-result by 30%, while reducing the risk of going over budget by 60%.

The new economy is the creative economy. We cannot continue trying to save our way to greatness. We will never survive low-cost foreign global competitors and at the same time keep the standard of living we have come to expect. We need to innovate and this takes creativity and well-balanced briefing protocols that contain business ideas, strategy, functionality and style.