CREATIVITY is the raw fuel of innovation. It alone does not give the intended end benefit, which is economic benefits.
Like any raw fuel, it needs to be burnt for energy to burst. Creativity needs to be digested into manifestation that makes economic transactions possible.
So, we will need the left part of the brain to work with the right. The former are business people and the latter, artists.
The science of making money has never worked with a chaotic approach. It has been proven by many that when you reduce transactions into set parameters, it produces profits.
This is why humans invented monetary systems, such as the bourse, currency exchange, bookkeeping, valuation, SWOT Analysis and many more.
Now, creativity, on the other hand, will only produce its best when there is freedom. Freedom means no restrictive boundaries. It also means chaos.
In the venture capitalist fraternity, a famous term called “The Valley of Death” is used to describe how ideas meet their fate, i.e. demise or alive.
What it means is that, when there is a good idea, i.e. creativity, it will die a natural death if there is no capital to nurture it.
When a venture capital pumps in money, the ideas materialise, giving rise to economic undertaking. This, again, demonstrates the inability for creativity alone to pay for itself.
In the Malaysian film industry, we have seen many examples of how creatively awesome films win awards for their artistic value, but do not make as much money as initially expected. On the other hand, films that appeal to simple minds will bring in money.
Some of you may know a great film director, the late Yasmin Ahmad, who produced fantastic movies, but did not make mega money out of them. She has won many awards for her life’s work.
But movies on hantu, gangsters and love stories are reaping mega box-office collections.
Back to the venture capitalist theory. Most venture capitalists will rank management competency higher than the strength of idea creativity.
For them, it is better to have a tip-top management with an average product, rather than an awesome idea with an average management team.
If the sources of capital believe in this, it is no wonder why creativity alone cannot pay.
I have experimented with this notion of “creativity does not pay” myself. Apart from managing four linear television stations (TV3, NTV7, TV9 and 8TV), one multi-channel network (Studio 8), one television shopping channel (CJ WOW) and one over-the-top content channel (Tonton), I am also a part-time visual artist.
When I paint on canvas, what my creativity instincts manifest, I will produce what I believe to be a creative work. However, those works take ages to find buyers.
Whereas, when I paint a typical painting that does not have any storytelling to it, and with no uniqueness given the repetitiveness of the style, I can sell it easily.
It is indeed an unfair world — creativity does not pay — accept the reality.
Lastly, I would like to quote a famous Kelantanese Chinese international fashion icon, Datuk Zang Toi, who once said: “To be successful in the fashion business, you only need 10 per cent artistic value. The remaining 90 per cent is all business acumen.”
Now, I don’t think many people will have the credibility to prove Zang Toi wrong because they have not tested the notion like how he had.
JOHAN ISHAK is Media Prima Television Networks CEO