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Thu 29 May 2003
The Creative Economy
Category : Commentary/creativeeconomy.txt
I'm half-way through "The Creative Economy - How People Make Money from Ideas" by John Howkins. It's a wonderful book, so far, and so full of gems. It's been a long time since I've had so much pleasure from a "serious" book.
There's this quote fom Terence Conran, the designer: "Creatvity is hard to define. It's mostly straightforward but there's also something magical, almost spiritual, about the process... You need to know the history of things and to be able to see a gap in the market."
"You need to know the history of things". Quite akin to what Steve Jobs said about needing to have a wide range of experience so that you will have enough dots to connect.
Which brings me to something written about in yesterday's STREATS - "Former oil man refines hair salon idea" - about someone hoping to copy the success of the QB (for Quick Beauty) chain of hair shop, by bringing a Balinese element into the mix. A phrase in the report stands out: "That he had no experience in the beauty business did not daunt him".
I believe that the basic idea of a quick, no-frills hair cut is incompatible with the languid, sensory experience you would associate with a Balinese spa resort. To create that ambience, you would need lots of wood, which takes up space - a reported 600 sq feet when compared with the 200 sq feet needed by the spartan Japanese-style QB Shops. It's that gestalt thing again. There's an expression the architects like to use: "the design must have integrity". The design, as a whole, must resonate - through the expression of each part keeping faith with the objectives of the whole.
This guy (or more likely, his investors) could lose his shirt. I'm not saying he won't succeed; it's great that people are willing to try new businesses. But I believe that he'll be making changes to his trajectory, if he were to eventually succeed.