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Which Came First: the Designer or the Entrepreneur?

Posted by Kate Reese
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Which Came First: the Designer or the Entrepreneur?

The association between entrepreneurial thinking and creativity has long been established; marketers may brainstorm by doodling while a software engineer listens to Bach in order to work through a difficult algorithm.

 

However, as businesses are required to innovate more and more quickly with an ever-present eye on the next trend, creativity is no longer an ancillary job skill but a necessity for survival and success. In a recent Huffington Post piece, California College of Arts President Stephen Beal elaborates: “Companies […] need creative people who bring to the workplace unique problem-solving skills, a deep understanding of the user experience, and, yes, the entrepreneurial spirit.”

 

Though it is easy to assert that entrepreneurial success requires innovative thinking, it is worthwhile to consider what activities habituate this sort of creative mindfulness. Businesses across America seem to have the answer…hire artists! Silicon Valley venture investors, who are notorious for a fascination with “disruptive” behavior, have recently begun partnering with local design schools and arts programs in order to cultivate relationships with creative types before they even graduate.

 

Research universities used to be the primary source of young talent for engineering firms and bio-medical companies; now, liberal arts and creative degree programs now represent a largely-untapped pool of candidates with excellent problem-solving skills, refined grasp on user experience and propensity for innovative thinking – an entrepreneur’s dream! According to the enigmatic hotel, airline and hospitality mogul Richard Branson, “If you’re not innovating, you’re going backwards.”

 

Beal claims that art students not only have experience with project-based work, but are comfortable with uncertainty and failure. Why is that desirable in an employee? He says that “those who take no risks – who are afraid to fail⎯ reduce their chances for success.”

Artists embrace challenges to the status quo and, now more than ever, the business community embraces artists.

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