Just about every business success story has been the result of an innovative idea. While we tend to think about business as being overly rational and logical in its thinking, it’s virtually impossible for a business to have survived without some degree of creativity and innovation.
Consider this: Where would GE be without the invention of the light bulb? Would Disney have survived without the creation of a mouse to pull it through? Would any car company have succeeded without the original vision of Henry Ford?
In an age where information has virtually exploded into every facet of our lives, imagination may be what separates an average product or service, from a great one. In their book “Return on Imagination”, Tom Wujec and Sandra Muscat define imagination as “the very human capacity to experience, construct, and manipulate mental imagery: the ability to see, hear, and feel things that are not physically present.” They claim that “what you imagine steers what you see, feel, think and experience.”
This is probably good news for marketers. If marketers and businesses could find a way to harness the imagination, they could drive how we feel and think about a brand. They would own our experience. Without the ideas and possibilities that imagination provides, it is difficult to maintain the kind of customer loyalty that is needed to drive and sustain profits.
The truth is that imagination is something deeply personal. We all create a sense of our world through a series of mental images and stories. Without ideas and innovation, there is no progress and without progress, there is no business.
It’s time that more businesses opened the door to innovative thinking. Let’s hire more ideas people – and imaginary thinkers. Mix them in with seasoned executives and let them loose. The result might be a return that goes much further than profits. If you capture ‘Return on Imagination’, you’ll capture more than our hard earned dollars – you’ll capture our hearts.