Is creativity emerging as China’s greatest resource?

28 September 2017

Posted By artgym


Is creativity emerging as China’s greatest resource for leading business in the 21st century?


This was the question Louise and I wanted to explore when we spoke to Chinese leaders from business, academia, art, media, architecture and other sectors and asked them to share their experiences and personal views on creativity, innovation and leadership in China.

Innovation is going through the roof in China, and it’s time the rest of the world wakes up and learns from China – fast. For years we have been noticing a strong western bias towards China, stereotyping it as a nation of copycats. At the same time, we are seeing so much innovation, world-changing ideas and business models emerging out of China, that we thought we needed to challenge some of these perceptions and learn some valuable lessons.

We were eager to learn more about this creative confidence emerging from China and set out to interview some of the leaders driving this transformation and showing the rest of the world how it’s done.

The report we have compiled from the interviews, news articles, reports and conversations, aims to contribute to the growing interest in the global business community who are looking to the East for lessons on how to navigate and tackle the future through creativity and innovation. The report shakes up some assumptions by the West, especially the Western-biased assumption that China isn’t creative, and celebrates creativity as one of China’s greatest opportunities and resources as it becomes a global leader – not only in business – in the 21st century.

Our report reveals what creativity means in China, it looks closely at the rise of this new creative confidence in China, and how China is actually redefining creativity. We summarized our findings into 8 key lessons for leading creativity and innovation in business in China that business leaders around the world can apply. The 8 lessons are:

1.     Put a value on creativity and innovation
2.     Have a total focus on the customers – “the ground”
3.     Don’t think big: think huge and think holistic
4.     Radical open source: hack, combine, share
5.     Serve the community and mankind
6.     Everything goes digital and mobile
7.     Betting big on technology: the future is AI and robots
8.     Shared economy – the new collectivism

What inspired us was the new brand of creativity emerging in China, that is potentially redefining creativity in business for the rest of the world. And what challenged our thinking was learning about a way forward for leading creativity and innovation in business in the 21st century. We realized that western leaders are locked into a mindset which values left brained, analytical, rational and logical thinking, whilst Chinese leaders think more dialectically, intuitively and holistically.

What we learnt from our conversations with the inspiring Chinese leaders was a re-mixed approach for leading creativity and innovation in business that balances western methodologies with a Chinese visionary pragmatism: The Yin Yang of leadership.

Personally, doing the research, conducting the interviews and writing the report was for us both an exciting adventure, on which we learnt so much about a new reality and future that is shaped by China. This experience opened up a whole new horizon where everything is set in a larger context between a rich past and an optimistic future. And for me, with a Chinese wife and half-Chinese son, it turned out to be a reconfirmation of my personal, wonderful and warm experiences with the Chinese community.

If you are curious to share our experience, download the executive summary and the full report with the eight key lessons on leading creativity and innovation in business for the 21st century here.

By Christian Kuhna and Louise Austin, Artgym

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