I still remember the feeling when I first picked up a spray can. It was a sense of excitement, limitless possibility and the opportunity for pure artistic expression. The world, literally, was my canvas.
Back then I thought the “corporate” world was the antithesis of “art.” One was about rules, about confinement and standardization. The other was about freedom, individuality and rebellion. One was stagnant, and one was about forward-momentum and a view into the future. As a graffiti artist in my earlier years, one of those words was bad, and the other was my life.
Today my writing days are behind me, and I find myself in more business meetings than I ever would have expected. But I’ve learned that these two worlds aren’t so distant. This notion that nothing corporate can be creative and that nothing creative can be corporate is false. Actually, solving the world’s biggest business problems usually require a healthy dose of creativity, business savvy and technology.
This sense of creativity comes down to the power of perspective. Creativity involves being able to see things through an original lens, make previously unseen connections, and bring a fresh eye to generate novel ideas. In the business world, new and diverse perspectives are often the key to unlocking creativity.
Consider what a business person might learn from a graffiti artist: The power of a succinct message. The importance of making a name for yourself. The fact that sometimes, you’ve got to break the rules. And ultimately, nothing lasts forever.
This is just one example to show how each person in an organization can bring their own perspective to the table, and this is something that needs to be celebrated and valued. More and more, the challenges of business require specialists, not generalists. What’s needed is to take an approach that’s multilingual.
The Multilingual Business Conversation
By multilingual I don’t mean building a team of talent that’s fluent in other countries’ native tongues (though that can be helpful at times as well). I mean being able to speak to creative, to understand technology and to live and breathe the core of the business. Having a multi-disciplinary talent pool, where each person retains their respective areas of expertise, opens the door for bigger thinking and new solutions.
Being multilingual also means knowing how to break down barriers within your business to drive transformation. The biggest problems require approaching a challenge from multiple angles. By viewing any problem from a variety of perspectives, you can identify solutions that may not be intuitive when viewed through only one lens.
You might have heard the stat that over 70% of business transformation efforts fail. While each project is different, we can often point to a root cause of this failure: focusing too much on one area and ignoring other factors. A lot of companies struggling to figure out why they’re falling apart may acquire another company with more enviable skills, or try to transform by buying a new piece of tech. But what they’re missing is the multidisciplinary perspective that brings everything together. They need to speak in a voice that is fluent in the language of creative and tech and business strategy. At PwC, we like to call that the BXT Method.
The Need for Multilingual Consultancies
This multilingual mindset is driving a revolution in the world of consultancies as well. Just like our clients, we are growing in many directions and the traditional labels of “consultancy” and “agency” may not necessarily fit. Consultancies are feeling the same pressure as those we serve: to be not just business strategy-savvy, but to be able to develop a tech solution or to design a user experience. This is far from a bad thing; it’s a chance for those who are up to the challenge to truly shine.
To win, we’ve got to take the same advice we tell our clients – you can’t focus on one piece of the puzzle and drop all others in the process. You’ve got to be able to have a conversation in many languages.
PwC is one of few places that has elevated a graffiti artist creative to the level of Partner, if not the only. And that’s the kind of thing that’s integral to transformation and success. The rules for the “consultancy” of the future aren’t all that different from those that apply to the “company” of the future – be diverse, be innovative, be creative, but still know your business. Harness the Power of Perspective.