David Redhill, the Chief Marketing Officer at Deloitte Australia, describes himself as a creative behind the lines, a guerilla fighter disguised to look like other “bean counters” in the firm he’s “infiltrated”.
He does this to win the trust of those around him, while using a blend of emotion and logic to build forward momentum.
Redhill, who studied journalism at the University of Technology, Sydney, says his comparative innumeracy is a topic of hilarity among partners at Deloitte.
“I can’t add up to save my life,” he told a Currency House function about creativity driving business success.
“I work in a business where creativity has not been traditionally valued.
“In fact ‘creative accounting’ and ‘being creative with the facts’ are clichéd bywords for criminality in accounting and consulting, a trait which doesn’t allow you to build an enduring brand.”
But creativity is good for business.
“In Australia, we’ve made a speciality of scotching preconceptions, with an internal mantra to innovate, embrace ambiguity and new territory, and to be different,” Redhill says of Deloitte, the world’s largest and oldest accounting business, aged 170 next year.
“Had Deloitte not welcomed the extraordinary spectrum of obsessive subject matter experts, professional misfits and maverick personalities in the fields of strategy, digital, economics, design thinking, leadership and people management that it has, it would not have been able to foment the uniquely productive creative tension that has seen it become a beacon for many like me.”
And he believes that using his compulsions in creative writing, musical composition, photography and design has allowed him to effectively lead what he considers Australia’s best marketing team.
He’s even written poetry and songs for his fellow partners at Deloitte.
His ideas on being creative in corporates:
- The currency of ideas is your most certain, bankable bet for the future
- Art has the power to ferret out the truth
- To master your doubts as a creative in business, it’s worth recognising that every business is waiting for the next, best idea
- That the digital and global age embraces the realism of mutual self interest
- Creativity in business will always generate an important tension by playing at the intersection of authenticity and commercialism
- Product improvement can be making better widgets; it can also be the inspiring, equipping and motivation of people to deliver their smarts with energy and authenticity
- Emergent business models increasingly require equal employment of left and right brain thinking
- Leaders look for critical advantage and are increasingly aware that creativity is critical in determining business strategy
- The most valuable point of differentiation is creativity, because it can’t be bottled or replicated
- If you can create a culture of participation, then you can create a force that plays at the edge of what is possible in business.
- Most businesses say their most important asset is their people. Most business then ignore this truth. When you put people at the apex of your business model, you can have fun, do good things and make money.
- That creativity drives business success.
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