Creative Economy and Culture in Innovation Policy is a report of the Finish Ministry of Education. Before you scream ‘Mandarins’ and avert your eyes (what do mandarins know about the chaotic world of innovators?), stop. Here is a very important proposition about where companies will locate their innovative activity and a seriously strong clue for what policy makers should do to respond to enterprises seeking competitive advantage.
The proposition may mean more to a policy maker, a local authority, a municipal official or a city manager than it would to an entrepreneur but it would be short sighted of executives to overlook it.
Why do many companies locate manufacturing capacity away from European or US markets? largely because Asian and Latin American markets are growing and US/EU ones are not. What does that mean for the future of employment and creative endeavour here? According to this report it means our best chance of attracting employment investment is by becoming more creative – and visibly so. Our culture has to be developed – by policy if necessary – from whatever it might be into this more visible home for creativity. But what that means is not just a home for software developers who like to write apps, or for artists and musicians. We are not talking about a vibe that creatives produce for us. The culture of creativity is a responsibility that we all have a role in conveying.
This report suggests that our cities and populations have to become more intelligent about products. We have to be savvy and engaged because that intelligence, the knowledge about products, apps, new ways of doing that we display through purchases and lifestyles, is a strong signal that we have something to offer the creative end of the product and service development life-cycle. We are the creative culture.
And in turn this culture of innovation is a precious commodity that officials, policy makers, those responsible for the identify of a city or region have to nurture.
Like all reports – from mandarins or consultants – ‘Creative Culture’ says many more things that are less important. That’s another way of saying, there is a lot of noise here and the noise-signal ratio is not conducive to quick knowledge acquisition.
Nonetheless the Finish authors are surgical in identifying important transitionary realities and the need for enterprises and policy makers and their populations to co-create the culture we all need – one where we, as employees and consumers, are game for experimentation and creativity.
Locations that can move beyond ‘normal’ lifestyles and comfortable co-existence are far more likely to be lab-like centres of creativity and innovation.
By Haydn Shaughnessy