Change is a single, simple word that represents so much. At the same time, terrifying, daunting, exciting, optimistic, impossible and NOW imperative. A word that is easy to throw out there — but incredibly difficult to deliver on. But who is responsible for delivering change? We believe it is us, the creative industry in its widest form. Our belief is that it has never been a better time to be a creative — and in the business of change.
But yesterday’s creative is not trained for today’s mission. We need re-igniting, re-booting, re-awakening. We need to free ourselves from the narrow thinking that keeps us on our current path — that path does not serve humanity well any longer.
Any new era, or revolution, demands new. A new direction to travel in, new thinking, new mindsets, new models, new methods, new systems, new behaviours, new ways. So how do we get there? How do we reimagine tomorrow and change it for the better?
We believe design is the greatest trojan horse for change the world has ever known and that it is creatives who must lead the way. We already use creativity to problem solve, to communicate and to transform. But what are the new skills needed to do this on a level we’ve never seen before?
HUMANKIND IS A TALE OF REVOLUTION
AT THE HEART of the human experience is a profound desire for revolution. Political revolutions reimagine the body politic. New intellectual fashions take root and we rally around new icons in the hope of something better. We arrive at new truths and our body of thinking shifts in ways previously not thought possible.
Technological revolutions make the world smaller and the avant-garde quickly become retro tributes to a simpler time. The exchange of ideas becomes easier and the pace of change gets quicker and quicker. And because of technology the rate of change has never been this fast and yet will never be this slow again.
In the 18th and 19th centuries the industrial revolution redrew the boundaries of what it was to work, make and trade. And in the past 50 years the digital revolution has made knowledge the most unfathomably valuable commodity in the history of humankind. These revolutions have completely re-framed how we work, how we dream, how we live and how we understand ourselves and each other.
As we get ever deeper into the third decade of the third millennium, we are faced with a tantalising choice. Where do we want to go next? MADE THOUGHT has never been so optimistic about the road ahead of us. But we are clearer than ever that the new revolutions of the 21st century have to be very different to ones that have gone before.
BENEATH THE SURFACE
“There are two sorts of curiosity — the momentary and the permanent. The momentary is concerned with the odd appearance on the surface of things. The permanent is attracted by the amazing and consecutive life that flows on beneath the surface of things.”
— Robert Wilson Lynd
Many of the choices we made in the 20th century were about a full exploitation of our decision to back fossil fuels as our answer for almost everything — from energy to materials to petrochemicals and pesticides. It was a century that appeared to be about progress but with hindsight, we realise that striving to industrialise production has actually caused our potential downfall. We live longer than ever, but we have created a world rife with other illnesses — physical, mental and of course the worst sickness of all — our unhealthy planet.
If we are to meet the challenges of the 21st century in life, business, and society, the brave new revolution of the 2020s must go deeper than the ones before it. It cannot be one grounded in political rhetoric or technological tweaking. It won’t be about piecemeal updates that leave the system as we know it intact. It won’t be one of incremental change driven by the reimagining of one-off inventions that might have found resonance decades ago.
If we are to fulfil our potential in the 2020s and beyond, we believe we need nothing less than a creative revolution. One that is rooted in creative bravery. One that goes beneath the surface to harness the power of what we at MADE THOUGHT believe is the greatest driving force for change the world has ever known: design and the creative freedom it provides.
NEW ERA, NEW WAYS
“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” — Henry Ford
This is the opportunity of a lifetime. Humankind is in transition like never before. And so there has never been a better time to be in the business of change. The pandemic has brought into sharp focus what is at stake for us all. Health is all that really matters. Health of business. Health of the planet. And health of society as a whole. No leader or organisation is exempt from the imperative to place health at the very centre of everything and accelerate the change now needed to preserve it.
Today, leaders in the business of visual culture have never faced a greater in-tray of challenges. How do you create new meaning for consumers faced by an alphabet soup of messages and cultural tropes? How do you outpace your competitors in a world moving at ever greater speed? How do you create new visual cultures that are truly authentic and inspirational? How do you express yourself in a beautifully simple way in a world prone to over-complication? How do you change things at a systems level, in a world when the fundamentals of your business may no longer be valid or relevant in the new world order?
MADE THOUGHT believes only a true creative revolution will arrive at durable solutions to these profound challenges. But this is no fleeting cri de coeur. This is a profound philosophical mindset needed for change. Ten key principles are at the heart of this paradigm shift, the sparks of the creative revolution.
INSPIRING THE FUTURE
At MADE THOUGHT we have spent two decades working with visionaries for whom an authentic sense of creativity is in their very DNA. People who have embraced the art of the impossible. People whose brands have been a wrecking ball for positive change.
We have worked with the icons of visual culture and business. Icons that have used creativity as a revolutionary tool to create new elevated realities and solve unsolvable problems. Icons for whom the future is now.
It’s time to move. At MADE THOUGHT we want to start conversations with people who want to be in the driving seat for the new creative revolution. Our role is to push these leaders into making their creative dreams a tangible reality for the world to enjoy.
We have settled on a 10 point system to challenge everything we create from today.
Fear restricts us, holds us back.
Passion and absolute conviction are the most compelling sales tools and we ALL need to be selling change right now. We must embrace this momentous time with boldness, in the knowledge that micro-steps are not enough. Giant strides of originality borne of fearless creativity are needed now.
Optimists start with ‘what is needed?’ rather than ‘what is wrong?’. It’s an unflinching conviction that we can make things better that creates a momentum that pulls everyone into the slipstream.
Tomorrow’s brands and businesses must be seen as beacons of possibility.
The new creative must be the most convincing, informed and passionate salesperson for the new future. The quiet — or not so quiet — revolutionist.
Go out into the world and be what you promised to be.
UNLEARN THE REASONS WHY NOT.
Challenge everything and embrace your naivety.
When reimagining our future, everything must be possible.
A revolution enables us to see things differently. Not knowing the reasons why new ideas might not work is your strength not your weakness. Keep light, think fresh, ask often, be hungry for knowledge, understand the problem but do not follow the path of others. When reimagining our future, everything must be possible.
Remember, the old ways have not always served us well.
BE THE MOVEMENT.
People believe in business with a clear purpose. But the word itself has been cheapened. Think about movements instead. They are always focused on a strong purpose but they are of course MOVING not static. People connect with each other and slipstream into the movement, belonging to the tribe.
Brands with purpose are movements. People know what they stand for by what they do, not what they say. Movements stir people to action and create communities. Join one. Be one. Think movement, then community and THEN brand.
Constant evolution is essential and only made possible from a strong core of knowing who you are. Become a source of energy that inspires others.
LOOK ELSEWHERE FOR ANSWERS.
It is time to learn from unexpected sources. Be open to influence from other markets, other countries, other cultures, other tribes, other species. Why do we think we have all the answers when history will judge us pretty harshly? Be open, be curious, be ego-less.
SIMPLE ALWAYS WINS.
Complexity is the killer of great ideas and creativity. Assume from the outset that the answer will be simple. Clear your mind from the clutter, the innumerable variations and side-tracks. Avoid the temptation to over-engineer, to add something just because it is technically possible.
Beautiful clarity will always outlast complexity because it’s democratic, it allows people to endlessly build on it. Avoid clouding your thinking in jargon or perceived intelligence, the best ideas are the ones that are clear and human. Creativity is not about exclusion, it must open up expansive doors.
BE BUD (BEAUTIFUL, USEFUL, DURABLE).
The great long-term peace and environmental activist, Satish Kumar, is a gentle revolutionary who grew up in India in a large family. His mother told him that he should only own things that had 3 qualities…
Everything must be beautiful — we need to surround ourselves with things that inspire us with their innate beauty.
Everything must be useful — do not fill your space and your life with frippery. Keep only things that are useful to you.
Everything must be durable — this is the opposite of much of our stuff today.
We need products of permanence, that have a weight of longevity in your hand. Our future will have no waste, we will find use and value for everything, because there is no alternative way. Ensure everything you create enriches lives and ignites senses.
Seek to redefine a future aesthetic; one that sees a different kind of beauty. Late 20th century design was about the surface appeal; 21st century design is about what lies beneath. Deeper, more essential, more harmonious. Desire stems from the heart, post-rationalised by the mind.
EMBRACE IMPERFECT TODAY.
To use creativity as a disrupting force you must have bravery and urgency.
Start today. Yes, there is a place for crafting but don’t let a quest for perfection hold back your thinking. Be less fearful of failure, embrace the messy nature of creativity and learn to enjoy it. Imperfect today is better than perfect tomorrow.
Create. Iterate. Improve. Don’t wait.
DESIGN FOREVER (FIRST ASK, WHY DOES THIS EVEN EXIST).
This, of course, is about permanence — the opposite of most of what we create today. Before we begin any creative process, let us first challenge everything with this question — why does this even exist? And if you can justify WHY it exists, then the imperative is to ensure it exists PERMANENTLY.
Never again can we take, make and throw away. Design with a SECOND use in mind, not just the first. This is circular thinking, sustainable thinking, this is the only future of design. Everything you create is your footprint. Ensure you want the legacy you are designing for.
EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED.
Everything we do in our lives impacts and affects others. Consider everything you do to be part of an entire connected experience and be responsible for that connectedness.
Nothing exists in isolation so know that what you put out into the world will eventually impact everything and everyone. Design for this.
JOIN FORCES. CONTRIBUTE. (YOU ARE NOT ALONE.)
And finally, find your own tribe of revolutionaries. JOIN FORCES. Without us all working together, nothing will happen at pace. Above all, we must CONTRIBUTE.
Creativity is not and will never be an individual effort. By 2025 there will be 160 million creatives around the world who are on the same path as you.
We are told great creative thinkers are individuals who triumphed above all and that couldn't be further from the truth. TEAMS of ingenious and diverse thinkers are the ones who succeed.