I like to know things.
Sometimes it’s useless things like Seinfeld references or an inordinate amount of early 90s hip hop. But sometimes, my innate curiosity about how and why things function leads me to useful topics in my three main areas of interest - design, business and creativity.
I wanted to explore these topics so I found smart people who could answer the myriad questions I had. This led me to start a series of panel discussions a few years ago called tmg*talks which brought together people from different industries to talk about topics like how design influences behavior in a space, creative entrepreneurism, and how sustainable development i.e. infrastructure and eco-friendly initiatives are connected to national economic and societal development. Those talks evolved into the Inspired/By series.
Talks like this remove the information gate keepers, allowing the audience to get a firsthand understanding of topics and form their own opinions. Mostly, it is about exposure to something other than what the media tells you is important.
Lately, I’ve been reading a lot about digital transformation and its effect on companies around the world. Of course, I had a lot of questions so I contacted smart people whose work responsibilities place them in a position to understand how this kind of transformation can facilitate entrepreneurship and business growth in organizations in The Bahamas, where I am based.
During the month of March, I led three talks in a new Inspired/By series which focused on creative intelligence. Creative intelligence is another way of looking at design thinking which uses a human-centered approach to understand the needs of the end user of a product or service, explores the role that technology can play in meeting solving challenges created by those needs and integrating this into a business strategy.
Changing the paradigm on business conversations
The Inspired/By conversations took place at The Current art gallery at Baha Mar, a $4.2 billion luxury resort in Nassau. Among the artwork created by Bahamian artists, we had conversations about business development, using data and human experiences to design better services, the need for collaboration and industry development.
Speaking with my guest Davinia Blair, the executive director of the Access Accelerator Small Business Development Centre in front of the audience at The Current, the art gallery and studio space at Baha Mar.
The talks featured the chief commercial officer at Aliv, the leading local telecommunications company, a senior in the data and analytics department at KPMG Bahamas, the executive director at the recently formed Access Accelerator Small Business Development Centre, a partnership between the University of The Bahamas, the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation and the Ministry of Finance, and the manager at an innovation center for Bahamas First, a leading insurance provider.
Not only did they lift the curtain on how data is currently being used to support a digitally-driven business strategies in local organizations but also how consultant companies are using it to create added value for their clients.
In my opinion, in this age of artificial intelligence and accessibility, a business strategy that includes a digital approach, no matter how basic, becomes increasingly important for entrepreneurs.
The executive director of the business accelerator spoke about how digital access and mobility and creative thinking are important, particularly in an archipelago like The Bahamas where it can be challenging to do business between islands without using the capital city as a conduit. A business reporter from a local daily attended the talk. The article, while accurate, focused on making it easier for small businesses to open bank accounts. This was one relatively minor point of the discussion which did not recognize its broader context - the importance of digital platforms and the use of data for entrepreneurship. Notwithstanding the importance of facilitating banking for small businesses, access to capital and making banking easier are topics which are often discussed in connection with the Access Accelerator as part of the organization’s purpose to facilitate those things.
This article made me realize why the Inspired/By talks are really important to have. Reporters write articles that they believe readers want to read but this is often a consequence of what they know and what they perceive is relevant to the reader, thus creating the closed loop of focusing on the same topics rather than including broader topics that are globally relevant. However, I believe that readers of the business section of the papers are smarter than that. They want to know more about in interesting issues that influence business growth as a whole, not just morsels of basic information without context. If one did not attend that Inspired/By talk, one would not understand the conversation of the broader significance of the access accelerator and its potential impact on developing a modern, technology-forward economy through small and medium sized business development.
Ideas are the currency of today and tomorrow
It’s been said that ideas are the new capital. And the results in the 2018 World Economic Forum Jobs of the Future Report illustrates this. Analytical thinking and innovation, active learning and learning strategies as well as creativity, originality and intuitive are all on an upward trend well into 2022. In fact, creativity, originality and initiative as a grouped skillset rose from number six in 2018 to number three in 2022.
Further, a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum's 2019 annual conference in Davos, Switzerland called Learning Today for Tomorrow’s Jobs which explored surviving the Fourth Industrial Revolution questioned the future value of traditional four-year education with the rapid impact of artificial intelligence. In The Bahamas, it’s still aspirational to be an accountant but less so to work in creative fields or areas that integrate creativity and business. However at the World Economic Forum panel, KPMG global chairman Bill Thomas noted that today less than half of the firm’s job applicants are accounting majors.
The Inspired/By talks are meant to be, well, inspiring
On one level, they are meant to pique curiosity and engagement. The ultimate goal is to help the audience leave the talk with a broader viewpoint than when they arrived. Inspired/By is meant to spur collaboration and idea sharing by bringing people together from multiple disciplines to consider how understanding the thinking or solutions from other industries can help them to see challenges in a new light and create solutions that they didn’t previously consider.
On a grander scale, however, my goal for Inspired/By is to create dialogue around how business leaders think about the solutions that they provide and how they develop strategies to grow in the short term and consider what will be required for growth in the long-term.
It’s a bit lofty, I know. But like Cornell University professor Dr. Cornell West says, I’m a prisoner of hope.
And I’m willing to do it conversation at a time.
Until next time,
I'm a strategic marketing communication consultant who works with premium brands to tell compelling brand stories, guide perception, drive engagement and build loyalty to win hearts and wallets.