What would happen to creativity and innovation if we could wave a magic wand and make budgetary limitations go away?
How can innovation accelerate in a world without money?
If you work in a creative field, you’ll be acutely aware of how often projects and ideas are limited by budgetary constraints. In fact, the same is true of business in general: we’re always looking for the best price, the cheapest option, the best value for money.
Most often, when you first present the debate for a money-free world, people will argue that the removal of monetary achievement will stall the impetus and momentum that drives people to innovate.
At the general level this is probably true to a large degree… but on the upside you’ll be left with the thinkers, innovators and creative who are truly passionate about creating. Not a single one of these creatives will be driven by money… they will only be driven by passion.
How else will creativity and innovation be accelerated in a world without money?
1. Built to Last
The art of business today is not to be able to sell somebody something, but to be able to sell (or give) him or her something that requires them making an ongoing payment to you - preferably on a monthly basis.
This makes sense because we need regular (monthly) money coming in in order to be able to survive sustainably. For this same reason products are not quite made to last – their natural lifespan ensures that you need to replace your purchase at a point. It’s business sustainability, which in our current market makes sense.
Take away the onus to earn a repeat income and the dynamics around the product development automatically change.
Let’s take mobile and tablet devices as a common example.
At present profit is largely made through the sale of physical devices. More devices sold = more profit. Take away the onus for profit and the need to replace the device ongoing disappears.
Instead, you’d probably find that we’d innovate a simple device that could be mass produced and distributed to every single person; say a simple piece of acrylic or glass that is able to carry an electrical charge and display digital data.
Similar technology already exists for smart glass applications and smartboard devices – you can write on the devices, screen capture what you write and display digital data from a PC through the device.
Changes and upgrades would then happen at the level of software, although the focus would probably shift from upgrading software technologies to refining software technologies so that they are more suited to their purpose and role, and probably more user-friendly.
Our current economy drives people into isolation – they work on their own, doing things alone in order to reap the benefits for themselves.
Much true creative collaboration is eventually ripped apart by money issues. The competition and isolation also deprives us of the greatest benefit of creativity and innovation – ideas grow when they are shared.
When you have a great idea and you share it and discuss it, it expands. You see more detail, develop a wider understanding of the issue, and expand your knowledge about the situation.
Today’s current competitive business environment means that people no longer share their ideas though, because a golden idea is the one you must hoard in order to ensure your future wealth.
Creative types are thinkers and TALKERS…
If you’ve ever been cornered by a passionate artist, creative or innovator with an A-M-A-Z-I-N-G new idea, you’ll know exactly how much we REALLY, REALLY, REALLY want to talk and share our information and hear feedback and drill down into the details.
Take away the money competition and creative thinkers can share all they want. In fact the more they share, the bigger the ideas become and the more rapidly we grow as a society.
3. Creative Centers
Education really can make a massive difference… if you can afford the right one. And right now that’s exactly what it’s about: the people who can AFFORD it get the best education.
The gathering of likeminded individuals in communities and centers of learning is commonly referred to as far back as the classical ages. Philosophers gathered together to share ideas, painters gathered to learn from each other and great masters, and even tradesmen formed guilds to protect their knowledge and pass on their secrets to the chosen few.
Today however, money greases every wheel, and the majority of people who land up in recognized centers of learning do so because they can afford it and have the right connections.
Take away the money and status drive, and the only people that will be WANTED at centers of specialty are people who truly show skill and ability in the arena. Likewise, without the monetary drive, the only people who will be DRAWN to these centers are those who are truly passionate about their calling.
4. The Creative Cycle
True creativity takes time, not least because you need to give the project time to develop inside you when you’re creating it.
The best creative projects are those that you work on over a period of time. In fact, author Stephen King recommends that when you finish writing a book, you should put it away in a drawer for at least six months before you look at it again to edit it.
It’s not only that a great creative idea takes time to develop though; it’s also that the creative cycle takes time and it has its ups and downs.
In his book 5 Love Languages, author Gary Chapman introduces the concept of a love tank. He says your love tank is like a bank account – if you keep withdrawing and withdrawing without making any deposits, you’ll eventually go into overdraft.
The creative cycle is no different.
You have massive surges and periods where the ideas flow easily and freely… and then Mercury retrograde hits, thinking feels like moving through wet concrete and you have writer’s block. You’ve used up all your creative mojo and now it’s time for you to recover before you bounce back full of ideas again.
In today’s business world however, there just isn’t time for the creative thinker to recover. The pressure is on to make money every month, to be on your best every single day. Your employer just can’t afford for you to take a month of downtime to recover your creative mojo and play.
Take away the monetary pressure and you take away the pressure of ongoing performance full stop.
When you don’t have to pay for the extra creative minds you need to employ to think for you, you can rotate them in shifts. You can give them downtime.
Right now you need to milk every second of worth from your creative employees because you have to pay for every second that they are there. Take away the money pressure and the creatives only have to focus on the problem at hand.
5. Bigger Goals
Think Space Elevator, deep space exploration, planetary colonization, time travel, teleportation. So many options… so little budget.
In 2003 an estimate of USD 20-billion was put forward to build the space elevator. Let’s say roughly that that cost has doubled now with all this crazy inflation, so USD 40-billion to build the space elevator, with an additional USD 20-billion contingency.
At 60-billion, the world’s three richest men (http://www.forbes.com/billionaires/list/#version:static) are the only people that can afford to fund the space elevator – and it would nearly bankrupt any one of them. Take away the monetary limitations and it simply becomes about moving the resources around to make it happen - once the parties agree of course.
The project then belongs to the collective, and affordable space travel and exploration become an option - as do garbage disposal and all the many other things we’ve discussed using the elevator for.
Likewise, without the need to recoup costs and make shareholder payments, the service can be made available to many at an affordable rate and won’t be reserved for an elite few who can be charged staggering rates so that the business can show profits more quickly.
Money drives us to compete against each other and isolate ourselves from each other, because people are either only your potential client or your adversary: challenging your access to the money you believe you deserve.
Removing money as a driver changes the face of almost everything we do, and allows us to return to our humanity and a focus on the greater good.