I had the chance to attend the first Cannes Lions Innovation festival this year. Having been so many times to the Croisette, I thought it might be refreshing to be surrounded by nerds, mathematicians and other tech visionnaires. I was not disappointed as I saw things that refreshed completely my notion of creativity. And I understood that many projects could really make our world a better place or to support the humankind to achieve more.
But then, carried away by those amazing ideas, I had a sort of rejection feeling, just a bad taste in my mouth. I could not explain it at first but when the juries started to talk about ‘creative data’ awards, I was asking to myself – can we really talk about creative data? It would have sounded better to talk about data leading to creative solutions. We have to be clearer here, for the sake of clarification. Data can hardly be creative, data are just a bunch of raw figures that are getting piled and somebody has to make them talk, make them live, make them useful. We can say that data combined with intuitive observation can be creative. This is maybe the articulation that may work for all of us.
Shane Snow in her book ‘Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success’, there is an interesting description how the best surfers perform in the championships. O’Donnell said for instance ‘One of the main things that you do when you learn to compete is learn how to pick conditions. Know that the tide is getting higher. Counting waves, how many waves come into a particular area that fit your eye that you want to ride’. You don’t have to be the best performer or the best champion; you just have the patience to wait for the moment that suits you the best. You should observe and analyse the data so accurately that your experience will tell you exactly how and when to act. Something that data alone can’t perform but experience can lead to when it’s combined. Patience and observation are keys to success; they are the engines of creative leadership.
So, as we understand, data can provide the progressions, can shape the patterned sets, but the intuition is the only way to understand in which case the define attempt will be more efficient or disruptive. We always praise Einstein’s words even if few of them were really delivered by him
I believe that all those projects based on hard and high-level data were not successful, only thanks to figures, but with the attitude the people had when they had finally access to them, when they were understanding them, when they were feeling them. It sounds just fine to me. Data is nothing without the human factor. And this is good news after all.