The Thai proverb “Abundant knowledge can’t help you survive.” reflects exceptional intelligence of Thai ancestors. Readers should not superficially interpret this as knowledge is bad or you should not accumulate too much of it. In fact, it is the failure of the individual with such amount of knowledge to organise, interpret, synthesise, and connect the knowledge for smartly application in building great success in life.
Creative economy is another development stage of information economy and knowledge economy. Information is transformed into value added for consumers in creating entertainment, uniqueness, happiness from being socially accepted, and spiritual fulfillment. Creative economy is thus not only the dissemination of knowledge, but also knowledge management to ensure deep satisfaction of consumers.
Since the industrial revolution, the world has been governed by rational knowledge or explicit knowledge. Everything must be explainable by languages and figures. Tacit knowledge, which is individual experiences accumulated through success and failure as a part of life, is underestimated as it cannot be clearly explained by languages and figures.
Fortunately, creative economy has shifted again the perspective of the humanity. It focuses on intrinsic knowledge, which sometimes is individual experience that cannot be defined through rational language. So, the strategy to develop creative economy, unlike the industrial or even information economy, cannot neglect the importance of tacit knowledge any more.
“Sometimes consumers don’t know what they want until manufacturers reveal their products.”
This is the speech by Steve Jobs, the creator of iPod and iPhone which have reformed the heartless electronics industry into adorable art products.
Steve Jobs does not believe in hundreds million-dollar investment in research and development. Nor does he have faith in consumer research costing millions of dollar. Instead, he is confident in the true need of consumers, asking himself every morning in front of the mirror, “if today was the last day of your life, what would you want to do?”
The talent of Steve Jobs isto be in consumer’s shoes, being a layman with very limited technology knowledge and asking himself and the consumer in the mirror what is wanted.
Consumer research and laboratory-based product development strategies are not aligned with the current era since they define the ability of consumers as only a factor in the research. On the contrary, the strategy to look into the mirror and to be in consumers’ shoes is only a random of an individual insight. The product design here has not yet taken into account the interaction with diverse needs of consumers.
Identifying the needs of consumers in order to successfully design creative products thus should not rely on what consumers are telling you. That is only explicit knowledge. More focus should be put on what is buried deep down in their emotion and instinct, which is tacit knowledge. It is what companies need to extract in order to enhance it into creative products.
Jeffrey Katzenberg, a former management of “Walt Disney”, the famous cartoon company, decided the fate of the animation Toy Story. The film was finally launched in 1995 and generated a tremendous amount of revenue. But prior to its launch, Katzenberg ordered a suspension of its production even though the company had already invested millions of dollar. He could not explain the reason, but he just knew that consumers would be bored and not appreciate it. However, with the talent and creativity of John Lasseter who tried every way to propose a new concept for improving the film, its significant weakness was discovered. It is the script and characteristics of Woody, the protagonist. Modifying it was not easy as it might destroy the wit of the character. But with the creativity of the production team, they broke through the crisis by adding new scenes at the beginning of the film. Woody is designed to be a good guy who selflessly helps other toys. Once the audience sees the good side of Woody, they will accept later changes in his characteristics due to the pressure to compete with Buzz Lightyear, who enters the film to challenge Woody’s leadership.
A lesson learned from Toy Story is that figuring out the buried need of the consumers is not easy. Decision by Jeffrey Katzenberg to suspend the production of the film might be a mistake. But it turned out to be a stimulus for John Lasseter’s team to put more effort despite the fact that they did not know what they had done wrong. After a long time of trials for improvement, and thorough idea exchange, they discovered the cause of the problem, which is the script and characteristics of the hero. In the end, they still needed the delicacy and creativity of the team in improving the film. Toy Story is therefore outstanding in terms of character development and its ability to maintain the wit of the original script.
Discovering tacit knowledge in consumers, staff, management, and business network is a significant mission for value creation in the creative economy. Particularly important is the transformation of tacit knowledge into explicit one in order to enhance it to become stunning creative products.
Perhaps difference in success of the two great artists – Picasso and Van Gogh – is not the skill in creating the artwork, which is their tacit knowledge. Instead, it might be their explicit knowledge in explaining the works and their ultimate aesthetics to be understood and appreciated by customers and stakeholders of the art industry.
Finally, the greatness of Van Gogh’s works is self-explanatory. This began from premium art critics before spreading to ordinary people. But it was too late to hold back the life of the great artist. The great Van Gogh had passed away before he found success. But there was no one to blame but himself. He deliberately followed his own desire to live his life without caring about adjusting himself to the need of the society. If only Van Gogh had known half of what Picasso did on how to do PR for own works, the world would not have to shed tears for the suffering of the neglected young artist.
This is an example of Picasso’s PR. It is not an explicit way to praise himself, but an irony yet premium art of appreciation which should be realised by everyone in the creative economy.
“I don’t think I paint for temporary joy. I always feel that painting must provoke something in the audience who don’t just look at the painting. This is similar to the playwright Molière. His work usually amuses both the idiot and the smart. Shakespeare as well. His works often use irony and aggressive words. I also use similar approach to reach everyone. But I don’t lie down in front of the public. I just want to present something for people from every level of idea.”
Note : Translation from ปีกัสโซ อัจฉริยภาพและสัญชาตญาณมืด by Akanee Moolmek (The Thai book is translated from Picasso : Creator and Destroyer
Translated by Thaya Wichayathian