quotes compiled via interviews and research

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"We need people with imagination, who know how to take risks. We need people who are willing to try new things, whether they're in the academic setting or in a business world. We need people who know how to be inclusive, who know how to engage everybody around the world, know how to engage suppliers and partners, and know how to engage joint venture people and others. We need people that can learn and teach, whether you are 65 years old or 25 years old. The day you stop learning is the day you cease to be valuable in an innovative culture.

Lastly, and I think most importantly, we need people who can combine passion with process. Schools like Cornell and places like GE are excellent at teaching process. But we both need to do more to give people a sense of how it feels to win and lose - and to have the passion that makes them want to see their visions become reality more than anybody else."

Jeff Immelt/chairman-CEO/GE (from his April 15, 2004 address at Cornell University, "The Innovation Imperative:")

"Sometimes, when I look at a situation or problem too long, I have to walk away and return to it with new perspective. And frequently when I do return to the situation, I attack it anew with a subtle gesture: I tilt it. Just slightly. Say ... 42 degrees. This fresh angle often sheds a whole new light, revealing an unexpected solution."

Laura Desmond/CEO/ MediaVest

I'm of the belief that there are no new ideas. What I'm inspired by is great executions of an idea-clean, strong, simple experiences that don't require explanation and are sustainable over time. They're challenging to achieve and worthy of much respect.

Josh Rubin/editor in chief/Cool Hunting

"The gap between the best commercial and the worst commercial every year is not 20 or 50%. It is 40 times, or 4,000%. Imagine if that was the difference between the performance of two investment funds. And it is creativity that is the multiplier."

Andrew Robertson/ president-CEO/ BBDO Worldwide

"The essence of creativity is adding value where others don't see the possibility of that value being added. So whether it's the designer of a vehicle or an interior design or an exterior surface detail or an animation house that we hire for one of our ads, they add value in unpredictable ways that others wouldn't be able to visualize. I was lucky enough to be part of the creation of Scion and I believe that creativity was the factor. Bringing creativity to the $15,000 car market was the differentiator for us. Creativity is now the driver for our business. If you look at Mini, if you look at Scion, if you look at the Chrysler 300, if you look at any of the product executions or marketing in the car business nowadays, customers are handsomely rewarding those companies that are distinctive. And that comes down to creativity: the designers, the engineers and the marketing and even the dealers. If you look at the most creative dealers-like Longo Toyota [in California] where they have an on-site Subway and gaming centers and customization centers-all those innovators at the retail level are also being rewarded for their creativity. When I joined the car business 20 years ago, creativity was very static. It was only one part of our business and that was the design portion. Now we all get handsomely rewarded for all the other parts, which are especially the retail experience and the marketing."

Jim Farley/group VP-marketing/Toyota

"If creative excellence is not supported, encouraged and rewarded from the very top of the organization, there's bound to be trouble. I like to say ... Orville Wright did not have his pilot's license. Anything is possible if you're tenacious, gutsy and believe in the power of intention."

Kerri Martin/director, brand innovation/Volkswagen

"Failure implies a certain unit of time in which you can fail. What's amazing about being on the internet is that it is reactive; there's a real flow, it's constantly going and changing. If you take time to communicate with your audience-in any way; I'm not talking specifically with words-you realize they are just like being with friends. They can be forgiving; if you mistakenly say something about a dress your friend is wearing, you have the opportunity to take it back. Yes, that was a massive failure in your communication with your friend, but there is this same dynamic in the space which allows you to not only make up for it but gives you the chance to use it as an opportunity to change direction."

Ze Frank/performance artist, humorist, vlogger

"The creative process is about invoking energy, openness and fearlessness in relation to whatever it is that needs doing at the time. The distinction between one kind of creativity, for example designing a vinyl toy line, which I do all day long, and figuring out clever ways to market that toy line, which I also do, is pretty seamless for me. It's even the same when I'm programming computers. Most people have tendencies one way or the other, but what is clear to me is that it is the story that we carry around inside us that says 'I can't do that' or 'I'm not good enough' that is the barrier to creativity."

Paul Budnitz/founder and president/Kidrobot

"Creativity has two big dimensions. One is constantly generating ideas-sparked by things around me-trying to capture them synthesize them and share them. Two, which is really core to my success, is creativity in response to a challenge. So much of effectively leading, building or growing something is being highly creative in your adaptations to tough circumstances or unique problems. This is not just about technology; it's about everything from human relationships to every dimension of a business.

Ten years ago I had more of a tendency to envision things and expect them to manifest more quickly or easily than was possible. The matching of creativity to the real world and what it really takes to get those ideas into the market or manifest-there's a huge delta there. Being able to understand the complexity of creative execution and being realistic about it is very important."

Jeremy Allaire/chairman-CEO/Brightcove

"The world doesn't have many Einsteins. Matter of fact, only very, very few know how to cook without boiling water. Creativity isn't that difficult to instill: You need to know who you are, where you want to go and create the forum and atmosphere for talented people to live up to their potential. That's how you create the big ideas are that are brave and somewhat risky, that will surprise consumers and make for success. That doesn't require Einstein. It requires teamwork and an inspiring environment."

Ulrich Becker/head of brand communication/Adidas

READ MORE about creativity ON ADAGE.COM

JEFF GOODBY/chairman/ Goodby, Silverstein & Partners; Don Hall/brand director/Zune; Russ Klein/president of global marketing, strategy and innovation/Burger King; Beth Comstock/president of digital media and market development/NBC; Benjamin Palmer/president and co-founder/The Barbarian Group; Julie Roehm/senior vp-marketing/ Wal-Mart
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